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The Power to Say No: When Quitting is a Good Thing

The New Year is right around the corner. This is when we begin reflection and self-evaluation, which is really a nice way of saying we may look back at 2017 with frustration and disappointment. Too often as we recount 12 months of working toward meeting the resolutions we made last January, we realize we did not accomplish the goals we hoped we would. We focus on all the things we said yes to and forget that eventually, we have to say no.

There is merit in making resolutions, but there is power in writing them down. When we record our intentions, we create accountability. When we create a plan to meet those goals, we greatly increase the likelihood of actually accomplish them. Still so many times those goals remain simply intentions rather than a goal met.

Perhaps a reason we struggle to meet our goals is because we are trying to simply accomplish too much at once. Have you ever considered that when we choose to say yes to a new goal we also need to say no to something else?

Bob Goff, a lawyer, best-selling author, and interestingly enough, honorary consul for the Republic of Uganda, makes it a habit of quitting something every Thursday. He says, “We can’t change much if we don’t quit much.” It is common and ordinary to start things, especially in the New Year. We start diets, begin exercise programs, declutter, and learn a new skill all while trying to maintain everything we struggled to do last year.

There is a strong aversion culturally to quitting. Yet we won’t be able to do all things well if we try to do everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” When we evaluate the fullness of our schedules, calendars, and lives and take the time to stop doing something, we create margin in our lives and space to begin something new. It makes sense and is a healthy way to hopefully create balance in our lives, but does anyone actually do it? I have heard very few sermons, podcasts, or leaders teaching on this.

So what does this practically look like?
It may mean quitting something that takes space on your calendar:
  • Quit a volunteer position that occupies a weekly time slot
  • Quit spending time on social media during certain times of the day
  • Quit eating after 8 pm
  • Quit a social activity that may take away from family time
Or it might look more like:
  • Quit holding onto unforgiveness
  • Quit believing the negative self-talk you hear in your head
  • Quit allowing other people to decide your schedule
  • Quit focusing on the negative

We forget how much power we have over our own lives. We hold the key to our own success, but we have to choose how we fill our time and heads. So as you set goals and resolutions for 2018, make sure you create space for them. Look a little deeper and decide what needs to go before you take anything else on. And don’t forget to celebrate 2017’s victories because there certainly were some.

What can you say no to as you enter 2018 so you can say a resounding yes to your new goals for the year ahead?

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