“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.” —Henry David Thoreau
We only get one life. And with it, we are wise to choose mission over maintenance.
We end our lives most fulfilled when we seek to discover our purpose and then focus our energy on it.
Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
And I have begun to recognize the third most important day is the day we throw off everything that keeps us from fulfilling that purpose—the moment we choose mission over maintenance.
One effective way to remove distraction and aim attention at our mission is to reduce the physical possessions in our lives. Our possessions, you see, steal our energy. They require maintenance.
When we own more than we need, we begin wasting our finite resources maintaining our stuff:
- We clean them.
- We categorize them.
- We organize them.
- We rearrange them.
- We lose them.
- We spend hours trying to find them.
- We move them in and out of storage.
- We work extra hours to make the payments on them.
This is time we can never get back. This is life wasted. This is sacrificing mission for maintenance.
But the distraction of possessions is bigger than merely cleaning them.
Physical possessions can take a toll on our lives before we even own them! We obsess over buying them, we spend hours researching and comparison shopping, and we go out of our way to find the best deal on them. (The average American spends almost 10 hours per month shopping, yet many of us complain we don’t have time for important activities.)
On the other end of the consumerism cycle, we spend time trying to sell our unneeded possessions, posting them on Facebook Marketplace, or driving them to local donation centers. Again, the more we own, the more of our lives we waste maintaining our stuff.
Beyond the physical demands of extra possessions, they also draw up emotional reserves. Cluttered spaces distract our minds and weigh heavily on us.
These items take energy from us and our greater pursuits. Consumerism causes burdens in many areas of our lives: financial, relational, spiritual, and can also impact our health because of undue pressure.
And I haven’t begun to mention how much wasted energy goes into comparing our possessions to the possessions of those around us.
But there is a better way to live. An intentional, minimalist approach to life provides the mind with the ability to support our mission.
Minimalism paves the way to less stress, more time, more focus, and more fulfillment and happiness.
A minimalist home and life is significantly less stressful. There are less items demanding our care and attention—less time maintaining our stuff and more time pursuing our mission.
Owning and caring for fewer possessions provides opportunity for clarity. When we align ourselves with the counter-cultural approach of minimalism, we free ourselves from the constant tugging of the pursuit of more.
Living with less offers more time and energy to spend on your chosen mission. Suddenly, we can pursue the careers we most desire. We can create solutions to our most heartfelt problems in life. We have more time to spend on meaningful priorities.
Personally, my greatest priorities are faith, family, friends, and impact. My chosen mission is to pursue the promotion of minimalism. Collecting things I don’t need takes me away from those greater pursuits by requiring my attention.
By choosing to own less, I reduce the amount of time spent maintaining possessions and utilize that energy to fuel my mission. You can too.
Too many of us waste our lives maintaining possessions rather than pursuing mission and passion. Choose the wiser route: Mission over Maintenance.