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I was chatting with my sister about the previous blog post I wrote on permission slips, when she made an astute observation.
She pointed out that, for her, sometimes ‘permission’ isn’t something she needs to do something, but rather, not to do something.
As she said,
“Sometimes for me it’s been permission to not do something, to not finish a project – to move in a different direction than I previously thought I would. And that’s been really freeing to do the other things I wanted to do.”
That’s so true.
A lot of times we invest time or money or energy into our plans and then stubbornly, don’t want that to ‘go to waste’ and think that if we just had more time, money, or energy, we could make everything work out after all – even if the signs are pointing us in another direction.
After all, people change. That means your dreams and goals can change too. Maybe they even should change.
Are you willing to let go of the goals that don’t serve you anymore for the ones that will?
I heard some advice once – from where, I unfortunately don’t recall – that any goal or dream older than a year that hasn’t been acted on yet should be discarded.
While I’m not that ruthless in my own life, there is some value in periodically taking stock of your plans and seeing if you still need or want to pursue them. And ask yourself why you started in the first place. Maybe you find that the dream or goal you were seeking isn’t actually yours at all, but someone else’s for you.
Now be aware that for some personality types, quitting something can be habit-forming. It’s a way to escape, to get out of uncomfortable situations, to control your environment. I’m not advocating running away from your problems, because as someone else wisely said once, ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’ If you are causing the issues – even if you blame them on others – you will find they will still follow you around. So be cautious about this; if you find you quit more things than you follow through on, you either need to be more selective in your goals in the first place or take another look at your motives for not finishing them.
But having said that, yes, having permission to quit can be even more freeing sometimes than having permission to go after your goals.
Either way, it’s two sides of the same coin. It’s called opportunity cost.
Every time you make a choice for something, you are making a choice against something else. This is true of every decision we make in life.
Choosing, then, to quit a goal in order to seek another, is just this concept in reverse. By making a choice against something, you then have freedom to put that choice towards something else. For example, if you make a choice to stop eating junk food, you can then choose to eat more healthy options. Or if you chose to quit an expensive vice, you would then have ‘extra’ money to put towards a more wholesome habit or hobby.
Sometimes these things we quit are actually good things – but we give them up to pursue something better.
Again, my sister had some valuable insights from her own life, and spoke candidly about her choices and opportunities:
“I gave up continuing college and finally getting a degree, in order to homeschool. I gave up having a job outside the home with people I enjoyed and work I enjoyed, in order to try my hand at being a professional artist and do ministry that way.”
We make these kinds of trade-offs all the time. Maybe not as life-changing as giving up a career to become a stay-at-home mom, like my sister chose, but every day we have choices to make about how we spend our time, money, energy, etc.
We are faced with these sorts of opportunities thousands of times a day, yet so much of our decision-making is automatic. We fall into routines or habits and no longer think about why we do what we do. My sister’s comments are a good reminder to be intentional about our choices in life.
What do you need permission to STOP doing, so that you can START doing what you really want to do?
I leave you with that same question that I ended the post with: What do you need permission to stop doing? And what would you rather be doing instead? Let me know in the comments below or Contact me.
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