There are some pursuits in life that are both/and.
For example, “I want to be successful at work AND invest in my family.”
This is a both/and type of proposition. I know lots of men and women who are both successful in their careers and find time to intentionally invest in their families. In fact, I hope I am one of them.
But not every pursuit in life is a both/and proposition. Some pursuits are either/or.
And we face grave consequences when we incorrectly discern between them.
As an easy example, consider someone who thinks to themselves, “I want to be healthy AND never exercise or change my diet.”
It’s a rudimentary example, but the proposition above cannot come true. We can’t both be healthy and not exercise. Eventually, one will win out over the other. And in the example here, health is the positive outcome that will be sacrificed if we continue to assume both can be true.
This is, of course, a foolish example. Most people know that you can’t both be healthy and never exercise. Right?
But what about harder to discern scenarios?
I would like financial calm in my life AND continue my spending habits.
I would like a more peaceful home AND keep all my stuff.
I would like a more spiritual existence AND value the things of this world.
I would like more time with my family AND my calendar full of events with friends.
I would like to write that book AND watch television every night.
Incorrect assumptions about what pursuits are both/and vs. either/or can keep us stuck in a rut.
Even worse, too often when we don’t realize which options stand in opposition to one another, we slide toward the less desired outcome: we get unhealthier, our finances stay in the red, our homes remain cluttered, our family gets neglected, or the book never gets written.
Those are the grave consequences of not discerning correctly.
Steven Wright, the comedian, once quipped, “You can’t have it all. Where would you put it?”
And he was right. You can’t have it all. Sometimes you must choose.
As we consider the lives we are living, we would be wise to evaluate the direction of them.
Is there something we desire more of in our lives? Healthier habits, a calmer home, more intentional parenting, a more loving marriage, more generosity or gratitude, reaching a greater potential?
If so, what is the either/or proposition that might be getting in the way of that pursuit? What needs to be removed so the greater good can flourish?