There is one sure fire first step in making a change in your life.
It is the most important step but the one that most people overlook or ignore.
In this season of resolutions and renewed commitments, you must choose this step before you do anything else. What step is it?
You have to cut out and eliminate something in your life before you can try to add something else.
In 2011, I wrote this in a post called Eliminate to Illuminate:
“The truth is, the only effective way to change is by first eliminating all that is a distraction, a burden, or time waster. No one followed Jesus without sacrificing something, maybe even something that was good. Even if we have many Godly things in our lives or Church activities that fill our schedule, we may need to cut some of these things out of our lives so that we can make room for God in an intentional way.”
You did not suddenly become superhuman on January 1 and capable of adding multiple things to your schedule and bandwidth. New Year’s Resolutions are largely unsuccessful not because you are an undisciplined sloth but because they are not sustainable if they are just added on to your already packed and important schedule.
So, what do you do? If you want to read more scripture then you need to replace something you are already doing with the scripture reading. You can’t have your exact same media consumption, morning routine, and social schedule and expect to make an addition work.
If you want to pray more you may have to turn off the radio or audiobook on your commute to make this happen. You may have to put your phone in another room just before bed so you can end the day and begin the day with prayer instead of scrolling your feeds.
If you want to go to church more you are not going to squeeze it in among kid’s sports schedules, lake time, and football watching. Something has to go.
This isn’t easy and I am the world’s worst at trying to manipulate my schedule to try one more thing but addition by subtraction is the only way.
I would suggest you take an inventory of your daily schedule and patterns and be completely honest with yourself. Then pinpoint those activities and times that are not bringing you life or joy to see if you can eliminate those first.
Then I would start really small. Five minutes of prayer here, 10 minutes of scripture reading there and don’t try to do too much. After you have completed a month with this small amount consider adding a few minutes. Or, instead of time, you might just add some enhancement to it. Try writing out your prayers or rewriting a favorite verse in your own words. This will help you go deeper and get the most out of the time you are already taking.
The bottom line is that your life is not a bottomless well that never fills up. You have limits. You can make positive and helpful changes to your life but not until you do the hard work of cutting out anything that is a hindrance or a distraction to what is most important.