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I am all about taking advantage of the positives of a situation! Hidden somewhere in every situation there is a silver lining. In this particular situation, I am really starting to see that it’s a wonderful chance to reassess your commitments. As we are all striving to make it back to “normal” it’s a good idea to take a look at what parts of our “normal” we want back when all is said and done.

Let’s start by taking a look at your commitments prior to this pandemic. Ask yourself:

– Did you feel over committed?

– Were you doing a lot of things that you weren’t passionate about?

– Were you never home?

– Were tired all the time?

– Did you ever double book yourself?

– Was it extremely difficult to schedule time with friends?

– Did responsibilities slip through the cracks because you were overwhelmed?

Before the “stay at home” order, it had become the norm to have lives that were over-scheduled, where we ran from place to place. We could never seem to catch up and there were rarely moments of rest. It is often that in the haze of overcommitments, we lose sight of our priorities and goals. This is precisely why I think that there is a silver lining in the forced slow down. We have been given the gift to unabashedly take a look at the commitments that maybe we were too afraid to say “no” to before and clean up our lives.

As we eventually come to an end of this pandemic and start to emerge back into “normal”, take a look at what sort of re-prioritization needs to happen before that.

To declutter your commitments:

– re-examine your why

– re-establish your priorities

– ask good questions

– impose boundaries

– plan for margin

– be committed to your commitments

– stay in your lane

Re-examine your why

Before you start looking over your commitments, first go back to your why. Why did you say yes to the commitment in the first place? Ask yourself hard questions and take a look at your mission and life goals. If you aren’t sure what your why is for a particular commitment, I suggest getting rid of it immediately.

Re-establish your priorities

Once you have a clear vision of your why, re-establish your priorities and commitments based on your values and goals. If your priority is family time, check to see if your schedule reflects that. We can say our priorities are whatever we want, but the choices we make will more clearly convey what we value. If nothing changes once we return to normal, what does your schedule indicate that you value?

Ask good questions

It is so easy for our commitments to take over our lives without us even consciously realizing it is happening. Taking time to be intentional and examining our schedules is the first step in creating change. Ask yourself why you committed in the first place. Was it because you genuinely felt fulfilled by it or was it because you were too afraid to say “no” to someone else. Remember, when we say “yes” to one thing, we also say “no” to another. The word “no” is a full sentence and it’s one you should use a lot more often.

Impose boundaries

Having a clear plan for your schedule and your time makes it so much easier when you are asked to do something new. For any opportunity, ask yourself if it lines up with your values and goals and whether or not you have the time available in your schedule. Just because you technically have the time does not mean you need to say yes. Be thoughtful as you consider new opportunities. It’s a lot easier to wait to give an answer than to try and (awkwardly) take back your yes later.

Plan for margin

As you emerge from this quieter time, resist the temptation to fill up your schedule. In order to not end up continually overscheduling you need to actually schedule nothing. Yep, that is how we have margin, my friends. We don’t allow invites to fill up all of the gaps. We say no to events because we are going to stay home and do nothing. You may feel like you are missing out, but you can’t be everywhere all the time so inevitably you will be missing out on something. Just don’t let it always be rest.

Commit to your commitments

Once you are clear on the limited things you will say yes to, be committed to them. Our culture was trending towards people being less likely to show up when they said they would be there. That’s likely not going to be the case for a while after all this. Keep your commitments simple and enjoyable so you will always feel like showing up.  While I don’t think we should say yes to everything, saying no to everything isn’t ideal either. Serve where you feel led to in order to help out your friends and community :).

Stay in your lane

This part isn’t easy, but it’s important. Stay in your own lane. Don’t compare yourself with others. Just because someone is doing a zillion things and appears to be handling it all well, does not mean that is the direction you should go (appearances are often deceitful anyway). Honor your. own needs, values, and priorities. Don’t try to make your life match up with anyone else’s or you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. We were each created uniquely with different talents, desires, and capacities.

Find your own dream and chase it. Don’t chase someone else’s.

The lesson we can all learn

There are rhythms to life. We were designed to need rest. In fact, our bodies rebel against us when we don’t get the proper amount of sleep. Our culture glorifies busy, but that doesn’t make it healthy or smart. We’re the example to our kids for what balance looks like, whether we like it or not. Allow time for rest and play. Self-care can be as simple as taking a few quiet moments to pray, read, rest, or relax. Whatever it takes to fill up your own cup. As a wise friend once told me, you can’t pour out of an empty cup.

It’s important to slow down and not continue going going going at full speed all the time. We need to slow down to be present and appreciate the people and things around us. It is a gift that we have been forced to by a crazy, unseen virus.

When we emerge

Challenge your own assumptions and ideas about what commitments you NEED or HAVE to have. Start conversations with your family about values and scheduling.

Feel like you need to cut back on your kids’ activities? Do it.

Need to take a year (or longer) off some commitments you’ve had for a long time? Do it.  Don’t continue hanging on to commitments when you are feeling called out of them. You’re taking someone else’s place who may actually have the drive and desire for that role.