By contributing writer, Amy
If you spend much time in a grocery store checkout line this month, you’re sure to see some rather uninventive headlines about reinventing yourself. They’re all promising the secret to a better, healthier, more organized you.
The funny thing is that they read very much like the headlines from last year…and the year before that…and the year before that one, too. I almost wonder if the major magazine editors get together each year and play a rousing game of Rock-Paper-Scissor to decide what magazine gets which subject this time around.
Of course, it would be a bit more comical if my own New Year’s goals didn’t look pretty much the same each year, too. Every year I seem to want the same self-improvement, and every year I fall short. Same goals, same struggles, same headlines.
I have a strange feeling that I’m not alone in this.
But what if, instead of working so hard to do everything better and be everything better (and failing miserably), we just…stopped.
What if we stopped trying to do it all?
What if we stopped trying to be perfect?
What if we stopped trying to juggle a million things in a million ways?
What if we stopped trying to fix everything about our lives and took a step back to simply focus on the few things that are really important to us?
A couple months ago, I decided to do just that. There were two things I desperately wanted: I wanted to grow spiritually, and I wanted to have a deeper commitment to homemaking.
As God began to convict my heart and impress these desires upon me, I knew there was something standing in my way. There was something taking up the time and energy I needed to spend tending to my heart and home.
So, I took a deep breath and announced that I would be taking a break from blogging. It wasn’t that blogging was bad or in some way evil; it was just something that needed set aside for a season to make room for moving forward.
While I called it a “blogging break,” it was actually more of a refocusing. It was a time to focus on the things that mattered to me and my family so I could make the kinds of changes and improvements that will last and will enable me to more effectively do other things I enjoy, too (like blogging).
How to Know if You Need to Take a Break to Refocus
– Do you feel like you just can’t get caught up?
– Do you always seem busy, but never have anything to show for it?
– Do you feel anxious and unsettled?
– Do you regularly tell yourself (and others) you’ll do important things “tomorrow”?
If you answered “yes” to some of those questions, then you might need to see if there is something – even something good – standing in the way of God’s plan for your life.
You may not have something like blogging that you need to step away from, but there are a variety of things that might be holding you back:
- Excessive housecleaning
- Social media
- Internet surfing
- Church ministry
While none of these things are bad in and of themselves, they still may be things you need to set aside for a short time to open up yourself to personal growth and development.
Tips for Refocusing
Have a purpose.
Decide exactly why you want to take a break from the norm and keep that purpose in front of you. Whether your purpose is to get healthy, organize your home, grow in your spiritual walk, nurture your marriage, enjoy your kids, or any number of other things, having a clear purpose will help protect against spending this time spinning your wheels.
Having a purpose also can free you from feeling guilty when you don’t accomplish what you hoped. When I started my refocusing break, I knew my main goal was to grow spiritually and my secondary goal was to get my house in order. This meant that if I felt the need to stop organizing a closet to spend time in God’s Word, then that’s what I did. Since I had a clear purpose, I didn’t need to feel bad about abandoning something good to do something better.
Talk about it.
If you’re married, talk to your husband about your need and desire to refocus. Since focusing on one thing will necessitate not focusing on something else, you need to be honest with your husband about the things you might let slide during this time. Especially discuss things that could directly affect him or your finances, such as not cooking gourmet meals every night or hiring a babysitter to free up your time.
It also may be helpful to talk to a friend about your goals. A little accountability can go a long way in helping us follow through with our good intentions.
Make a plan.
Figure out how you will go about following your purpose. If you have measurable goals (such as losing a certain amount of weight, reading a specific number of books, or cleaning and organizing the spaces in your home), you can break down your goals into bite-size pieces or make lists to keep you on track.
For example, to work toward my goal of spending time on homemaking, I follow my Daily To Do List and check off the items on my various cleaning and organizing lists. I can always see what needs done and how my progress is coming along.
But some goals, like “grow spiritually,” can’t be measured. For this goal, I decided I would keep up with my quiet times, listen to biblical teaching while I work around the house, and read from a gospel-centered book every day.
Pray, pray, and pray some more.
In all this talk about focusing on our goals, let’s not forget that our human efforts are nothing without God’s grace. Regardless of our hopes and dreams for this season, our ultimate purpose should always be to glorify God! Open your heart to where God may be leading you and the means He may use.
Ask God what areas of your life are important. Ask Him to reveal the obstacles that are keeping you from fully following Him. Ask Him how you can manage to take a break when there are so many plates to keep spinning.
And then, once you decide what a break looks like in your situation, ask God to help you achieve your purpose. Ask Him to grow you and keep you focused on what matters. Go to Him with your fears and shortcomings. Thank Him for the trials He uses to draw you deeper into Himself and His plan for your life.
Are you ready to hop off the hamster wheel and focus on lasting growth and change? Let’s truly make this the “best year ever” by refocusing on the best way to glorify God in our lives right now!
What important area of your life do you need to refocus on? Do you have something that needs cut out of your schedule, at least for a season?
By the way, if you want help setting goals while keeping your focus on God, check out Leigh Ann’s eBook, Live for Him: A Grace-Filled Look at Planning.
“In Live For Him, Leigh Ann walks you through figuring out your various roles in life and helps you develop a mission statement that reflects your God-given purpose. Then, using your mission statement and roles, you’re able to develop goals that are both intentional and attainable. No more wish-lists full of resolutions that will be forgotten by next week! Live For Him will give you the tools and tips to live the life God has called you to live.” ~Amy, Gospel Homemaking
Click here to learn more.