Oh, sure…I struggle with other vices. This one, though is probably at the root of most of my failures and is a huge obstacle to the life of abundance that Jesus promised us.
Let me explain.
Everywhere we look, there are HUGE opportunities waiting for us. Self-improvement opportunities, career opportunities, family opportunities and KINGDOM opportunities. The hard thing about most opportunities is just that. They’re hard. They require hard work, goal setting, motivation, initiative, and a whole bunch of other cool words that would look great on a motivational poster.
I have a tendency to approach these opportunities with an absolute, all-or-nothing approach that feels really good at the jump, but sabotages my long range success and motivation.
- When I try to eat better, I go hard-core on the diet plan (you pick it, I’ve tried it). 24/7…all in.
- When I start exercising, I set a plan. No less than 6 days a week. 30 minutes – an hour a day. 24/7…all in.
- When I try to lose weight (usually the ultimate goal of #1 and #2), I set a weekly weight loss goal of X LBS per week. 24/7…all in.
- When I try to grow my knowledge of scripture, I sign up for an online plan for daily reading and/or establish a routine of daily quiet time. 24/7…all in.
When we set up such regimented structures in our lives, we replace the freedom that God has given us with a legalistic approach. History has proven we aren’t capable of living up to such rules/laws…that’s why we need Jesus and the freedom he gives us.
Please understand that I think a daily quiet time in the Word is crucial to our spiritual growth…but, if we’re doing it for the sake of staying on track with a plan or to avoid the guilt of missing a day, we’re doing it for the wrong reason.
Eventually, the inevitable unknown of life creeps in and robs us of an opportunity to work out because we have a cold. We eventually oversleep and miss our morning quiet time. We land in an all-day business meeting with lunch catered and NOTHING fits the diet plan.
That pretty little checkmark that we love to see show up every day on our planner calls in sick. Because of our regimented approach, that blank spot where the checkmark SHOULD be is a HUGE hit to our motivation. We resign to failure and abandon our mission.
Does it really have to be failure? Absolutely, not.
Goals are good place markers to check the pulse on our progress. They shouldn’t be used as a pass/fail metric.
I’m working to change my perspective. I’ve just begun my latest attempt to get healthy. This time, I’m not keeping a planner. I’m not setting rigid goals.
I’m not making check marks.
Instead, I’m going to live freely, knowing that every decision I face is an opportunity. Sometimes I’ll make the right one, sometimes I won’t. As long as I’m making more good decisions than bad, I should be trending in the right direction and can feel victorious.
God has a plan for us…there’s no need to tie ourselves down with our own.
Live a life free of check marks.