The start of a new year brings with it the excitement of starting fresh. Churches, ministries and non-profits often do a push for involvement as people are reevaluating the things that they want to be involved in. Many have made resolutions to volunteer more or to help others. It can be easy to sign up or commit to things when the requests come one at a time. We often forget about the other commitments we might already have and how a new one will be more of a time commitment. While these new ventures are all great in and of themselves, sometimes if we aren’t careful, we can end up even more run down then when we started.
From school and work to activities, there is always something to do. Even in our relationships, whether it is family or friends, we can go from not having anything on the calendar, to running around from one appointment to the next. As we start the new year, we thought it would be great to share some ways that we have found helpful to slow down and reflect. When we have time to slow down and get perspective, it often helps us to not overcommit to activities or appointments. While there is no sure-fire way, we have found these things helpful over the years.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
Create a space. In a world filled with media and the constant “need” to update our status, it can be hard to find a space that doesn’t have a TV, computer or device that can distract us. Whether you live in a studio or a mansion, create a space that is distraction free. It can be something simple like arranging the furniture in a room so that there is a reading nook. Try to eliminate or move away from anything that could be a distraction. Organize papers or items and move them to a different area. It can be helpful to have a pad of paper nearby that way if you need to jot down a note or to-do item, you can do that and then not have to get up and be distracted. We like making it comfortable by adding pillows or cushions on the floor, that give us the option to get cozy. Grab your favorite book, copy of Risen Magazine, journal, cup of coffee and take some time to reflect. It might be writing down your goals for the year, praying for your loved ones, or thinking about a decision.
Declutter. We love the principle of when you bring in one box or one bag full of stuff to try and give away or get rid of the same amount. While it doesn’t always work, it sets a great precedence of being mindful of decluttering throughout the year. It also helps keep that space clear that you created to be distraction-free. Having a designated basket or bin where you can put items that you want to donate or give away can also be a fun way for family members or friends to participate. You can challenge your family or small group to fill the bin or basket with gently-used clothing for a ministry at your church or local non-profit. It might be going through your children’s books and donating them to the school library or a family in need. Often when we declutter and give stuff away, it also makes us more appreciative of the things that we have. It is great when we do it with family and friends too because it gives everyone an opportunity to have a conversation about being thankful and helping others.
Take time to think. This can be one of the hardest things to do. Whether it is a seemingly great opportunity or an activity that you have done forever, it can be hard to step back and think about a decision. Our boss, teacher, coach and friends often want an immediate response. But by saying “Let me think about it,” or “Not yet,” we can take time to think about the decision and how it might impact us, our family, co-workers, or team that we lead. Ask a trusted friend or mentor for wisdom on the decision that you have to make. Pray about it and ask God for guidance. If the decision affects other people, ask them for their input as well.