The “I don’t” list
At the Scorre conference last week, I was in a conversation about saying no and simplifying. One of my new friends said he made a list of things he no longer did–an “I don’t” list. Something about that struck me. It compelled me to look at my life and list the things I needed to say no to so that my yes could be more strategic and effective.
As I list my “don’ts,” I want you to take out a piece of scrap paper, or a journal, and write a list too. Would you be so kind to share some in the comments section of this post? And pass this post on to others who may need to make their own “I don’t” lists. I’d love to spark a revolution of No.
(Aside: In writing this, I’m not saying I can’t be prompted or interrupted by the Holy Spirit to do things. Sometimes we are called to clean toilets, to help others through problems that take much of our time, to be responsive. God’s leading trumps any list we make.)
Mary’s “I don’t” list:
- I haven’t been a room mom for my kids.
- I don’t do the kind of community where strangers live with us. (I used to think that was so cool, but then we lived in France and experienced that. I’m simply not the kind of person that can do that.)
- I don’t do tax accounting. (I could, but it’s time consuming, and I prefer someone else to bear the weight…paying of course).
- I don’t answer every email. (I used to. I can’t now. I have some replies I tailor to those who ask similar questions about how to get published.)
- I don’t cut my own hair (thank goodness). I do cut (and sometimes color) everyone’s hair in the family, which saves enough money for me to afford my own cut. I’ve cut some pretty awkward bangs on myself.
- I don’t speak for everyone who asks. I’ve come to a place where, if I’m going to leave my family for a period of a few days, there has to be compensation. I love them too much to leave, so if I do leave, I need to have it be worth my while.
- I don’t forward “please forward this” emails.
- I don’t shower. (Just checking if you’re reading this. Of course I do.)
- I don’t do harsh exercises that bear weight on my forearms. Because of so much typing, my right arm hurts, and doing push ups just makes things worse. Byproduct: I have lame biceps.
- I don’t eradicate every weed in my garden. I used to. But in the Texas heat, I almost feel like I should congratulate the weeds that thrive, plus I don’t want heat stroke.
- I don’t do triathlons from May to September for the same reason. One trip to the ambulance after my last one convinced me that Mary + swim-bike-running + 105 heat = Emergency services.
- I don’t clip coupons. (Boy did I used to. I also ran from store to store doing loss leaders sales. I wish I had time to do this, but I don’t. So I swallow my thrifty pride and made do with the closest store to my house.)
- I don’t work on Sundays. Of course, life careens into that sacred space, particularly on travel days. But on the whole, I try to rest. I’m a mess if I don’t.
- I don’t nag. (ha ha ha. This is aspirational, not operational. Again, checking to see if you’re reading this.)
- I typically don’t do layovers. Since I live in the DFW (Texas) area, I typically never have to have a layover. I truly don’t like changing planes.
- I don’t let my closet or drawers fill up. Instead, I donate.
- I don’t eat fast food or junk food. It makes me sick, and I can feel my tummy reject it. Honestly, I just don’t like it.
- I don’t mop my floors. (In my defense, I do have cleaning ladies come twice a month to help with this. Otherwise, we’d all stick to the tile floor.)
- I don’t respond to guilt. I used to. All the time. This is an area of growth for me.
How about you? What’s on your “I don’t list?” I can’t wait to hear from you!
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Have you heard the story of the man that got himself in trouble with the law? His wife set her life aside and gave all her attention to helping her husband get out of his legal troubles. However, as the wheels of justice slowly turned, he found himself still in jail after many weeks. He exhausted every avenue of help that he could pursue from within the jail, there was nothing left to do but hope his wife would not give up. Fortunately, his wife focused even more, sacrificed more, and gave all she had until finally she secured his release. He was delighted, they celebrated his freedom, and his joy was unspeakable. However, soon his attention began to wander to another woman and it was not long before he left his wife for another woman.
Most of us would not give two cents for a man that would accept such generous sacrifice from his wife and then abandon her. However, many people treat God that way and then expect an enthusiastic welcome home into heaven. I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed.
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