Instead of pressuring yourself to do more, what if you intentionally did less?



T he beginning of a new year stirs our imaginations with possibilities of growth and goals and ways to be bigger and better than last year. Assessing your life and setting goals for the upcoming year can play a vital part of the Christian life. But as the Prophet said, there’s a season for everything, and it could be that 2018 is more about rest than resolve. Maybe 2018 is a less-is-more kind of year. And, no, this is not some kind of Costanzian call to a “year about nothing.” Saying no to certain things frees us to say yes to other things that are usually higher up on our priority list—things we often don't get to because of all the other things vying for our attention. Below, a few All Things New contributors detail what they’re saying no to in 2018 and how they hope to enjoy God and serve others within these limitations.


Tina Wilson: Saying No to “Thudding”
Confession no. 1: I love to-do lists way more than I should. There is something incredibly satisfying about crossing items off a list.

Confession no. 2: I love Fridays. I’m a homeschooling mom and an introvert. On Fridays my kids go to a homeschool program in Greeley. And I get to enjoy the beauty of being absolutely alone in my own home for several hours.

Confession no. 3: The confluence of to-do lists and Fridays on my own seems like perfection. But it often ends up in defeat.

On Thursday afternoons I pull out my notepad and start writing down all the things I could do with my alone hours the next day. The optimist in me loves dreaming about all the possibilities and the page quickly fills up.

Then Friday comes. I enjoy an extended devotional time or work on lesson-planning without interruption. I play the piano, go for a walk and sometimes just revel in the silence.

But at the end of the day when I head out to pick up the kids, I always feel rather...defeated. Because, while I have crossed off many things, there are still many I just didn’t get to.

Anne of Green Gables sums it up nicely for me with these words: “When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation . . .”

This is me on Thursday night and first thing Friday morning.

“. . . and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really...the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts...it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.”

And the thud is where I land on Friday afternoon when I look at all the to-do items still on my list.

I want to find a way to keep the anticipation and lose the thud.

Recently, I was listening to an episode of The Next Right Thing, a podcast by Emily Freeman. (This podcast is thoughtful, calming and practical. I’ve listened to most episodes multiple times. Give her a listen!) In this particular episode, Emily talks about times in her life when she has a big to-do list for something specific, such as planning a writing conference.

But instead of having one list, she has two. The first is her master list with everything on it that has to be done. The second is her list for today. And it starts out perfectly blank.

As Emily begins her day, she looks at the master list and chooses one thing to start with. She writes it on her new list, works until it is completed and crosses it off. Then she goes back to the master list, picks her next thing and writes it on today’s list. And so it goes.

When the day is done, or her allotted time for working on the conference is over, Emily’s master list has some items crossed off with many still left for her to work on. But on today’s list, every item is crossed off. A thing of beauty to the soul of type-A list maker.

I know this might seem a small thing to some, an over-the-top sort of thing to others. But God has given me these Fridays as a gift. I want to use them well.

I want to be able to fly on the wings of anticipation on Thursday night.

I want to work diligently on Friday.

And I want to sit down to a Friday night with my family without feeling defeated.

Flying. Without the thud. Here’s hoping…

Trisha Swift: Saying No to Plans
I'm saying no to overcommitting, but I say that every year, and nothing has changed yet. So I really want to say no to my plans more often. I tend to get my knickers in a twist every time something comes along that wrecks my plans, but often it's because God has something more precious in mind. For instance, on Christmas Day, most of my plans didn't come to fruition, but I was able to be there for a couple of friends who desperately needed encouragement. By saying no to my plans, I was able to say yes to some sweet time with friends that I would have missed.

Nathan Hrouda: Saying No to Food
One thing that I'm going to be saying no to in 2018 is food. I'm trying to stop eating altogether. Just kidding. Kind of.

I'd like to develop a more regular practice of fasting in my life, so I'll be saying no to food one day every two weeks. I haven't practiced or experienced fasting much in my life except for making “big” life decisions. Lately I've been struck how often fasting is talked about in Scripture as a means of God's grace to us—to humble us and show us our need and dependency on God. I've also been reading about the biological benefits to fasting, which has left me wondering: has God designed the human body that we benefit from extended times without food? Has God made us for fasting? I want to learn and experience more about this in 2018.

We live in a city with many amazing restaurants and a bit of a foodie culture. The beautiful limits that God has put into my stomach and body are often transgressed by my insatiable appetite for Cafe Mexicali sweet pork smothered burritos or Chick-fil-A spicy deluxe combo meals (with a strawberry shake to boot). Regularly fasting will fly in the face of those desires and require me to not base my days around restaurants but on the promises and satisfaction of God's goodness.

Here's to not eating in 2018! (Raises glass of water)