Simplifying Your Life

Stop the car and get your obligations under control.

In order to simplify your life, it’s time to stop the car and get those obligations under control. You may have invited them along for the ride, but you’re still the driver of the car. You can tell some of them to take a hike or, at least, get in the back and stop trying to take the wheel away from you.

Did you notice I said to stop the car? Some people are terrified to stop moving. To stop moving means to risk the collective weight of all of their obligations piling up from behind and crushing them. They are convinced that to remain safe, they must stay one step ahead of their obligations. Outrunning is safe; stopping spells disaster.

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Stop and take stock of your priorities and your obligations. Stop and take stock of where and how you spend your time. Stop and determine what is actually necessary. Stop and carve out time for thought and reflection. Go-getters rarely give themselves permission to stop and reevaluate their activity, resenting anything that retards forward motion. Stay-puttings rarely give themselves permission to stop and reevaluate their distractions, resenting anything that smacks of commitment or change or risk.

What are your life goals? What are the purposes and priorities that give your life meaning? Bouncing from thing to thing may produce a great deal of activity, but it rarely promotes a path of purpose. Staying hidden from life, huddling in a safe corner, never taking a risk rarely promotes a path of purpose. Without purpose, life is just a series of random activities, whether you’re a go-getter or a stay-putter. What do you want your life to count for?

Actions, as they say, speak louder than words. People act either to create something they desire or to avoid something they fear. What do your actions say about what you desire and what you fear? These are your true priorities.

What happens to gears that are out of alignment? They grind and grate and scrape against each other; gears out of alignment create damage. Too much alignment, and gears won’t operate at all. Compare and contrast what you want your priorities to be and what your priorities actually are. The more out of alignment these are, the more you live at odds with yourself. The more you live at odds with yourself, the more stress you’ll have in your life.

Simplifying your life may seems like an exercise in reducing the amount of things you do and, thus, only applicable to go-getters. Simplifying your life, however, is about making sure the things you do have meaning and positive purpose in your life.

Stress is created not merely by doing too many things; stress is created by doing too many of the wrong things and not enough of the right things. Looking at your life through that filter can help you determine what things you need to keep and what things you need to jettison.

I encourage you to examine your life. When you decide that you don’t have time to take stock of your life, you have lost control of that life.

Life is about choices. Each yes and each no reveal something about who you are as a person. You can’t start to change who you are until you understand who that is. Once you understand who you are, you are better able to bring yourself into alignment with who God wants you to be and how he wants you to live your life. God does not want you to live so burdened down by life that you miss out on life.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. If you are struggling with emotional exhaustion, The Center is here to help.

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