Taking charge of your time
We’re more than a month into 2017, and that means more than a month into New Year’s resolutions. Have you stuck with yours?
If you’re killing yourself to squeeze in your new workout routine or scrambling to follow through on your volunteer commitments at church, we’d like to ask you a serious question:
Have you considered resolving to let some things go?
That’s right; we’re asking you to consider quitting.
Pretty countercultural, right? Especially when everyone around you is trying desperately not to quit whatever new thing they just started. But there’s value in recognizing when we’re overcommitted, overscheduled, and just plain over it.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) reminds us that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” That includes a time to tear down, to give up, and to throw away. Now, we’re not encouraging laziness or giving up when you should really keep on keepin’ on, but there’s value in knowing when something has run its course.
New York Times best-selling author and speaker Bob Goff quits something every Thursday. One time it was a board position at a nonprofit, and another time he quit working out of an office. “We can’t change much if we don’t quit much,” he says. Bob quits things that hold him back, that don’t matter, or that are crowding out more important things.
That’s good to keep in mind year-round, but especially at the start of a new year, when you might feel pressured to add instead of eliminate. Remember, there’s nothing honorable about resolving to take on more if it more actually takes away from your life!
So reevaluate your priorities and edit your commitments. What’s truly important, what’s just filler, and what’s overflow? Does one thing pop into your mind? You know the one. Good. Now ask yourself these four questions to decide whether that something in your life is worth quitting. Then give yourself permission to make 2017 a year that’s filled only with what truly matters.
1. Are you thinking about the past more than the present?
If your commitment has you stuck in the past, that might be a clue to cut the cord. Sure, you’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into coaching your kids’ soccer team, for example, but that’s not enough reason to keep going if you’re miserable now. You need to do things that fulfill you today. If you’re continuing just because you’ve already invested so much into it, it’s time to let it go. Quitting doesn’t make you a failure.
2. Is your commitment causing more stress than excitement?
Do you dread waking up at 5 a.m. every Saturday to bake treats for your small group because that’s the only time you’re able to do it? Every time you get up to bake, you’re giving up the opportunity to use that time in other, better ways—like to sleep, read a devotional, or go for a morning run around the neighborhood. So decide whether that thing you want to quit is keeping you from doing what you really love. If you’re feeling enslaved, break the chains today.
3. Are you still expecting something stale to get better?
Have you been plugging away at something for a while hoping it would improve over time—but it hasn’t? Do you catch yourself complaining about it or having to justify to yourself or others why you’re still doing it? Give yourself a deadline. If it hasn’t gotten better by then, consider this the permission to stop.
4. Are you compromising your core values to continue?
This is a no-brainer. If you hear that little voice inside that kind of sounds like God questioning your choices, that’s a pretty clear sign He wants you to stop. The same is true if you feel like those choices are causing you to rely on yourself more—and on God less.
Our time is precious, and we need to make sure we’re using it well. As we continue 2017, let’s make a resolution to spend it in a way that’s productive, helpful and life-giving—even if it means letting some things go. And remember, quitting doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but it might make you a better one.