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The day starts at 3 a.m. with a cup of coffee, a bible, and no interruptions. From there it progresses to a couple of hours of writing, an hour or so in the gym, then back home for a bit more writing or a few other freelance projects until about 2 p.m.
The rest of the day is reserved for errands, making dinner or maybe even some family time at the beach before winding down around 8:30 p.m. with my evening routine and then off to bed by 9:30 p.m. the latest.
That’s my ideal day. My ideal life. When I started blogging more than a year ago, I imagined this life for myself. A life where I had transitioned to doing something I truly loved, sharing my thoughts with the world and making a difference.
So far, I’ve made the first part of this routine a reality (the rest will have to wait as I’m still working full time) but it didn’t come without sacrifices. If I wanted to get up at 3 a.m. it meant that I needed to get to bed by 9:30 p.m. the latest and after years of going to bed around eleven or twelve o’clock I really needed to discipline myself to do this.
Discipline for me looked much less like watching less television (I gave it up years ago) and more like cutting back on all of the things that I felt I was obligated to do as a mom, caregiver, employee, and even ministry leader.
If I was going to
find make the time to write, I had to let go of a few things. I was going to have to make some sacrifices. If I was going to actively try to fulfill the mandate that God placed on me to share what He has given me, then I would have to make an active decision to say “Yes” to the things that brought me closer to that place where He wanted me to be, and “No” to the things that didn’t, even if they looked good on the surface.
Since making that decision, I’ve reduced the number of things that demand my time so that I have more time to focus on the things I want to make happen.
It’s still not a perfect system and sometimes I find myself tempted to get involved in things that look good but might not necessarily be good for me at the moment. That’s when I take a moment refocus and remind myself of what God has called me to do and why I let go of certain things in the first place.
If you know that God has a specific plan for you but you’re struggling to find the time to dedicate to making it a reality, then take a look at your life and see if there are some things that you might need to give up, even if it is only for a season. Here are a few things you need to give up to find your purpose.
As I mentioned before, late nights was the major thing that I decided to give up. Switching from going to bed later at night to going to bed around 9/9:30 was more than a bit of a struggle at first, but I forced myself to do it.
I set an alarm for 8:30 p.m so that I can stop what I’m doing and start to prepare for bed, including taking a few minutes to plan the next day. I personally need to give myself a full hour to prepare to get to bed because I realized early on that things tend to crop up (like that thing my son forgot he needed help with for school the next day).
To help you get in the rhythm of earlier nights and mornings, it’s a good idea to establish some sort of evening and morning routine. Of course, there will be days that your routine will go completely out the door but do your best to stick with it long enough to make it a habit and you’ll find that even when you fall off the wagon, you can easily restart your routine.
TELEVISION AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Yes, you may have to give up that favorite show. Think about the number of hours a week you spend watching television or on social media. According to wikipedia.com, the average person spends about four hours daily watching television and this article on digitalinformationworld.com indicates average social media consumption at about two and a half hours in 2017.
How much television are you watching? How much time are you spending on social media? Think about it. Maybe that time could be better spent learning a new skill or to strengthening an existing one.
Believe me, I know it’s easier said than done (Facebook is my nemesis), but maybe you could start small by giving up half an hour of your television time. That’s one sitcom. Read a book instead or work on a course. Or do some research online and teach yourself something new.
SOCIALIZING AND BUSYNESS
To make room for your purpose you might have to forego those nights out on the town with the girls or take a step back from volunteer work or even ministry duties. Remember that saying yes to one thing means that you’re saying no to something else.
Even though what you’re doing might be good, it doesn’t mean that it’s what you should be focusing on at the moment. Hanging out with friends is a great way to unwind but make sure that you use it as a way to reward yourself AFTER you’ve done the work you need to do.
Volunteering and ministry work is always good, but make sure that it’s what God wants you to be doing in that season. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing that we’re doing all of these great things for God when in we’re actually just being very busy.
Wouldn’t it be better, when we stand before Him, to be able to tell Him that we accomplished what He sent us to do (even if that was “just” raising the children He gave us to know Him and love Him) rather than only be able to tell Him about all of the things we were busy doing.
Take a step back and examine the reasons why you’re doing all that you do. Are they in line with what God has called you to do? Is there anything that you need to give up, even if it’s only for a season?
What’s the point in believing in God for something that you are capable of achieving in your own strength? When our dreams are too small we place limits on what God is capable of doing in and through our lives.
He has created each and every one of us for greatness and the world waits in anticipation for what we have to give. There are many promises of God in the Bible, general promises for His people but we all also have specific promises that He has given to us personally.
Don’t leave this earth with these promises unfulfilled. All of the things that you dream of doing if you had the time or money, He’s placed them in your heart. If He’s put them there, you are guaranteed that He knows how to make them a reality. Trust Him.
FEAR AND UNBELIEF
One of the biggest things I had to let go of to pursue my dreams was fear. Fear comes in so many forms – fear of man, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough. Fear for me mainly looks like perfectionism and procrastination.
I want things to be perfect and if I can’t figure out how to do them or figure out how to do them “right”, I procrastinate. Recently, I had to give myself permission to “do things badly”.
This was my key takeaway from the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast – Episode How to Stop Your Perfectionism.
Wherever we look around we’re taught that it’s the worst thing in the world to fail. Our entire school life is based on getting the best grade, being at the top of the class so that you can get a good higher education and get a good job. So that you can win. Those of us who don’t make the grade, feel like losers. We weren’t capable of following the plan.
Cathy Heller gives great advice for overcoming perfectionism in the podcast. She points out that “successful people are always making the next best iteration of something.” So try her Fast Forward Formula for fighting fear and perfectionism. Go ahead and make it messy.
Imagine your ideal life. The life where you know exactly what God has planned for you and you are actually living it. Wouldn’t the world be an awesome place if we could all walk in our purpose and help others while doing it? But do you know that there is a cost to living that life? Things you’re going to have to give up to get to that point? Decisions you’re going to have to make?
Is there something you can give up this week to make room to pursue your purpose? Something that you need to say “No” to so that you can say “Yes” to the things that count? Will it be television, social media, fear?
Leave a comment and let me know.