Embrace Your Almost

Find Clarity and Contentment in the In-Betweens, Not-Quites, and Unknowns

About the Book

Not quite where you expected to be? You’re in good company. Now the bestselling author of Own Your Everyday helps you navigate unmet expectations, waiting, and uncertainty with confidence and clarity.

“If you are like me and need practical steps, hard-won wisdom, and a friend to help lead the way into a new season of promise, this redirection resource is what you need.”—Lysa TerKeurst, #1 New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

Jordan Lee Dooley knows firsthand how frustrating it can be when you almost achieve a goal, almost reach a dream, and almost get to where you want to be, only to land just short of the finish line or watch it all fall apart at the last minute.

Unmet expectations have a way of making us rethink everything. But perhaps rethinking dreams is not always the worst thing. Why? Because it’s in those moments, when you’re not where you expected to be, that you have a chance to pause and consider what matters most to you as well as redefine what success looks like for you in a world that’s constantly telling you what you should want or should do.

Believe it or not, it is possible to cultivate a life you really like—and one where you can succeed—in the tension of the middle, between where you started and where you hoped to be. Discover:

• practical steps to move forward when your plans don’t go according to plan
• how to clarify which goals are right for you to pursue
• what to do when dreams seem to come true for everyone but you
• the unexpected gains that can arise from unwanted pain
• how to know when it’s time to let go of a dream—and what to do with the space left behind

Life is filled with unmet expectations, disrupted dreams, uncertainty, and in-between seasons. As hard as those experiences may be, they also offer a unique invitation to align your dreams and goals with what matters most. Learn how you can gain greater clarity about what you truly want, why you want it, and how to begin pursuing it.
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Praise for Embrace Your Almost

“We all know what it feels like to have an expectation of what we hoped our life would look like, only to have it veer off onto a different path. In times like these, we need some help keeping our eyes up as we move forward. That’s exactly what Jordan Lee Dooley does for us in Embrace Your Almost. If you are like me and need practical steps, hard-won wisdom, and a friend to help lead the way into a new season of promise, this redirection resource is what you need.”—Lysa TerKeurst, #1 New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

“Rather than reinforcing the pervasive shoot-for-the-moon rhetoric that our boss babe culture pushes, Jordan is a part of the resistance. Her book Embrace Your Almost tactically guides us on how to redefine success so that we can faithfully steward the good that God sends our way. This book heralds the message that this generation desperately needs.”—Amanda Pittman, founder of Confident Woman Co.

“Whether we’ve had the wind knocked out of us when a dream fails or we are finally breathing deeply after we release a dream that wasn’t right, Jordan guides us with compassion and clarity to liking—or at least making peace with—our lives long before we reach the celebratory finish lines. Embrace Your Almost champions a life that is always under construction instead of one only satisfied at a completion that never truly comes. Jordan intimately invites us to join her in the space between disappointment and possibility, heartbreak and hope—whether in our home, motherhood, career, or faith. She reminds us that a life of almosts is one in which we’re endlessly striving and never celebrating the fact that where we are today may in fact be beautiful enough, if only we see it through her lens.”—Hilary Rushford Collyer, host of the You’re Welcome podcast

“Jordan Lee Dooley is a perfect mix of wisdom and work-hard, and this book brings both. For when you don’t understand and when you need a guide, Embrace Your Almost will walk with you, teach you, and lead you to the confident life you want.”—Annie F. Downs, New York Times bestselling author of That Sounds Fun

Embrace Your Almost is for anyone who finds themself in the awkward season of in-between. Jordan has gifted us with an insightful guide filled with biblical and practical steps that lend future clarity, even as they help us experience contentment when we are not yet quite there.”—Lisa Bevere, New York Times bestselling author

“I’m grateful for the way Jordan shares her honest journey and helps anyone who’s had to wait or adjust their expectations in the season they’re in to redefine success and contentment right where they are.”—Ruth Chou Simons, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, artist, and founder of gracelaced online
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Embrace Your Almost


Redefine Success

I felt sick to my stomach, like I was going to puke. As I blinked hard at the results of a project displayed on the computer screen in front of me, my heart sank to my toes. I had invested tens of thousands of dollars into this venture, willing to take the risk because conservative predictions had indicated that I’d make it back three to four times over.

However, the actual data was showing that I might not even break even.

How is this happening? I wondered as I tried to make sense of it. Did I miss something? I had done my research, planned, and made calculated moves. Everything was set up for success, and I was so sure the investment would yield a generous reward.

I looked over everything again and again, only to come to the same conclusion: this was not going well. I felt so stupid! How could I have been so off in my predictions? Why am I always so overly ambitious?

Realizing how big of a flop this project could turn out to be, I called my husband and expressed how worried I was. He offered some encouragement and suggested we go out to our favorite little Italian restaurant later that night to discuss possible plans of action. Still in disbelief that we were having this conversation, I reluctantly agreed, and he made a reservation.

As he twirled his linguine onto his fork and I bit into my gluten-­free risotto that evening, he said something I didn’t expect. “J, I know this feels like a big loss, and your frustration with it is valid. But I also want to remind you that you didn’t have to do this project. It was something you wanted to go for, but it’s extra. It’s not essential to doing what you’re best at. And maybe this is a lesson in contentment in a season when you’ve been saying you want to slow down. Maybe it’s an opportunity to focus on what is working instead of constantly trying to make something new work.”

I swallowed hard as I processed what he’d just said.

He was right. Perhaps I’d let my ambition for more, more, and more run away with me . . . again. In an unexpected way, it was as if on that day, at a tiny table over pasta, he gave me permission to reconsider all that I was chasing after and whether I would allow what was working to be enough.

After we paid our tab, we headed home, changed into comfortable clothes, and read books under the bistro lights on our patio. The sound of crickets filled the cool evening air, and I took a deep breath as I thought, Wow, even with this project not panning out, I really like my life right now.

Sure, I had a lost investment to make up, but strangely enough, I was reminded to be thankful for all that was going well. I paused, looked around, and breathed it all in, noticing that I felt gratitude on a deeper level than I had in a while. Perhaps that’s because when disappointment or loss strikes, it reminds us just how good the very normal things of everyday life really are.


The Garden

A couple of days after our Italian dinner, I walked out my back door to see my husband preparing the garden boxes for planting, just as the sun was going down over the lake behind him. It was a late spring evening, and the golden light reflected off the water onto his athletic frame. I squinted as I walked toward him to offer a hand.

With my hands in the dirt, my mind jumped back to the previous August, the first time we had tried to start a garden, which I would later learn was well past planting season for most vegetables in the Midwest. The motivation to start one late in the season came after a hard summer for our family. I needed a hobby. Plus, I knew fresh, homegrown organic produce was so much healthier than days-­ or weeks-­old store-­bought food, so I decided to give gardening a try. Never mind that I’d never been able to keep even a simple houseplant alive for more than a week. (My poor succulents, one of the lowest-­maintenance plants a person can own, always withered away because I was constantly on the go.)

But I felt empowered and determined to make that late-­summer garden work. Dreaming about the bushels of spinach, kale, and carrots I was going to harvest, I looked through cookbooks to find delicious new recipes to try with my eventual vegetables. And for added luck—­or at least to complete the farming look—­I wore my overalls on planting day.

Week after week, I faithfully watered and weeded my first little garden. I eagerly anticipated those little sprouts breaking through the ground. I even found myself pausing in the produce section at my grocery store, certain that I was going to harvest better produce than what I saw.

Except that’s not exactly what happened. That first year, despite my hard work, my garden bounty amounted to four measly kale leaves. No, not four plants. Leaves. As in, one plant survived, and I got a few leaves from it. The rest of my crop was either eaten by grubs or killed by an early frost. I could barely even make a salad with my “harvest.”

As I picked the four leaves off the plant, I looked at the ground where my carrots were supposed to have grown but sadly had barely even sprouted. Clearly I’d failed miserably.

Or had I?

If we’re evaluating success by the physical harvest, then, yes, I failed. However, if we’re talking about my own growth as I learned about timing, slowing down, sowing, and tending consistently, then my efforts could be deemed a massive success.

Maybe those few kale leaves didn’t represent a failure. Maybe they illustrated what’s possible. Instead of viewing the one plant that survived as a disappointment, I began to look at it as proof that I could grow something. With a few changes, such as planting earlier in the season and developing a better strategy for fending off hungry rabbits and grubs, I knew I could get a better outcome. That one kale plant showed me that I can experience disappointment and see possibility simultaneously.

As my husband and I worked to plant our garden the following spring—­ironically the same week my work project flopped and I felt like a total failure—­reflecting on my first garden experience got me thinking about how we define success.

Many of us look at success as what we achieve: snagging a great job, getting a promotion, crushing a big launch, finding love and getting married, buying our dream house, and more. We achieve those things, and—­voilà—­we’ve succeeded, right?

That ideology suggests that if we don’t reach our expectations, then we aren’t successful at all. But what I discovered through my attempts at gardening—­as well as through more significant pursuits that I’ll discuss later—­is that success actually goes deeper than attaining a specific outcome.

That’s what I want us to consider as we walk together through the following pages—­that we can be successful and create beautiful lives even when a specific goal or dream takes longer to achieve or doesn’t work out exactly how we planned. We just have to look at success differently. We must dig below the surface to find what’s most important and make sure that we grow more of it.

In other words, even if on the surface we seem to have failed, if we allow the experience to grow us into the women we were made to be, then we will have succeeded far beyond any superficial achievements.

We can experience great rewards even amid the hopes, plans, and goals that almost work out but don’t and even in the most difficult situations. In fact, I would argue that our most painful setbacks can set us up for the calling we were born to step into. That is, if we allow them to.

Please understand, I’m not trying to gloss over the very real grief and disappointment that accompany setbacks and letdowns. Trust me—­I’ve had my fair share of the heartache that comes with them. But as you will see in the chapters to come, your biggest setbacks can become setups for success in the things that matter most to you. Success is possible—­even if it looks different from what you initially envisioned.

About the Author

Jordan Lee Dooley
Jordan Lee Dooley is the national bestselling author of Own Your Everyday and the host of the top-rated podcast SHE. She is also the founder of the Own It Academy, a digital education company, and SoulScripts, a words company known for its phrase Your Brokenness Is Welcome Here. More by Jordan Lee Dooley
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