Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Trina Cress of Beginner Beans.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” —John D. Rockefeller
Over the last few years, I’ve grown in my desire for a simple, intentional, contented life. Sometimes, however, I lose focus.
Like when my daughter almost drowned on a little excursion to the pool a couple summers ago. As I finished changing my then six-month-old into his swim diaper, my then three-year-old escaped my peripheral vision and confidently rushed down the steps into the water. Water that happened to be level with the top of her head.
When I glanced up, it took only a second to see her frantically kicking—her feet down, arms frozen by her sides, head tilted toward the sky, and a thin layer of water just covering her face. Her eyes open and panicked, she tried and failed to reach fresh air.
I managed to quickly pull her to safety, calming her and reassuring her as she caught her breath. Thankfully, she hadn’t taken in much water or had to hold her breath long in the seconds from her stepping off that last step and me noticing her in a panic.
That is the image that comes to mind as I think about my own venture into life. I bound joyfully down each item on my To Do list easing my way into what I think to be manageable and joy-filled waters.
Before long, I look around and realize I’ve filled my life to overflowing with good things. Good goals and projects—creative work, healthy living, hobbies; good daily tasks—errands, e-mails, chores; and all the specifics of my life happenings—my current pregnancy, staying home with the two kids we already have, and everything that comes with this current season of life.
A life full of good things.
So full, it sometimes threatens to drown me. My never-ending list of good things just covers the top of my face as I try and fail to catch my breath through them all.
It’s these moments—when I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, spent—that I know it’s time to simplify and refocus. I need clarity of purpose so I can let go of some of those good things, opening room to breathe and move forward into the deeper waters of great living.
I got this clarity recently by going through five checkpoints on my journey to simple, intentional, contented living. I’ll share them with you here, in case you are also finding yourself overwhelmed in the shallow waters of good:
1. Identify where you are.
I started by listing all the specifics that were taking my resources. All of those good things—the projects, tasks and life happenings—that filled my days to overflowing. I had an “Oh, now I get it” moment as I realized all the directions I was sending my time and energy.
2. Discover where you really want to be.
I then dreamed about where I really wanted to be—drowning in the shallow end of good, or confidently swimming in the deep end of great? In order to get deep into great, I had to be honest about those projects, tasks and life seasons where I really wanted to focus. Which did I care about and want to pursue above the others?
3. Consider what’s holding you back.
Then, came the tough questions. What good things were drowning me? What was holding me back? What good things were getting in my way of doing something great, or doing anything at all?
4. Let go of good for better.
Next, came the hard part of letting go. I had to confront my hang-ups to letting go of those good projects, tasks and happenings. I couldn’t let guilt control me anymore—if I wanted to swim in great, I needed to go through the challenging process of letting go of the excess good.
5. Live simply with purpose where you are.
Finally, it was time to pursue my new focus on purpose and with appreciation. What would I do today to implement my new simple, intentional, contented focus?
Focus and direction for my life, work, and family came as I dove into these checkpoints. I found a refreshing clarity like pulling my head above the water’s surface and taking in a healing breath of air. A renewed focus of where to point my limited resources to swim in great.
What good things in your life are keeping you from great?
Trina Cress blogs at Beginner Beans where she encourages others to live simply with purpose where they are. The five checkpoints shared in this post can be explored further in her free e-guide A Simple Road Map for Your Journey.