Select the best, toss the rest

IMG_20160610_091241My head and heart are full — full of ideas cushioned with a sincere desire to see them come to life, all of them. So many different thoughts coupled with scores of angles to develop each one.

The excitement builds as my mind chases the possibilities and dot after dot connects as if I’m in a virtual game of Frogger leaping from one log to the next, systematically making my way to the prize.

But in a flash my cute little froggy misses one of those logs and lands in the water.

Game over.

With a fresh game and a few more lives I try again and this time the screen changes to a highway with cars whipping past me. I dodge them for a while but my concentration drops for a millisecond and splat, I’m dead.

Too many ideas

The same is true with the constantly multiplying basket of ideas spilling out of my brain. Many of them are actually pretty good thoughts with lots of potential.

I work hard to make sense of each one, organize it a bit and actually start developing a plan of action. But then splat.

I’m blindsided by life, possibly something unexpected that throws everything off course or maybe nothing unexpected at all, merely a reminder of all that is already on my plate.

Applying the 5 Ws

Who, what, when, where, why and how — these are not only questions a good reporter always asks but they also are front and center in my mind as I so desperately attempt to implement a new idea.

Focusing on prioritizing projects and goals while learning to be super selective in what new assignments and activities I add to my responsibility list is a daily battle for me.

‘Worth doing well’

Anything I choose to do — as well as anything that is imposed on me — will be given lots of attention. I tend to agree with the principle of “anything worth doing is worth doing well” (Hunter S. Thompson).

And while I don’t always achieve the highest ranking for the goals I set, I do always start out intending for that mark.

Of course I consistently complicate things even more with all the fresh ideas. It is so tempting to spend my energy each day dreaming about and orchestrating what could be as I filter through the latest list of applicants in the new ideas department.

Managing the excess

A new discipline I’m attempting is to not start anything new until I can complete some of my existing projects. I’m trying it in all parts of life.

At work

At work I’m putting all new ideas on a wish list rather than working on them as soon as they pop in my head. Each time I complete a project I can go to the wish list and select one item to put in motion, but only one.

At church

At church I’m resisting the urge to volunteer for every need that surfaces and focus solely on the roles I have committed to play at the moment. I try to remind myself that if I try to do too many things, then I won’t do any of the roles well.

I also try to remember what a former minister of education taught me — that just because someone wants a certain ministry or activity doesn’t mean it is supposed to be offered.

He believed in letting the person with the vision for the proposed idea work to bring it to life rather than allow people to order it up and expect others to do it. His philosophy was that if church leaders had to beg people to participate in or volunteer for a certain ministry or activity, then it probably wasn’t something the church needed to do anyway.

At home

At home I’m constantly scanning my closet for items to donate or discard. And if I acquire a new piece of clothing, then I have to find at least one item to remove.

A friend told me recently how she turns all the hangers in her closet the same way on Jan. 1 and each time she wears a piece of clothing she turns the hanger the opposite direction. Then on Dec. 31 she goes through and pulls out all hangers that were not turned.

She doesn’t give herself a chance to look at nor debate whether to keep those pieces of clothing. She pulls them out right away and donates them. She says that if she didn’t wear the piece of clothing even once in a year, then it can’t be that vital.

Practice of purging

My friend’s annual practice of purging her closet made me wonder if we could expand that to all of life.

I think about all the stacks of undone projects sitting around my office and in my drawers at home. I wonder what would happen if I forced a true, hard deadline of one year on all those projects.

Would I have more energy and motivation to complete them and thus experience the victorious feeling of accomplishment while also making more room for new ideas to flourish?

Would the feeling of achievement and satisfaction of knowing I finally completed the projects provide a new level of rest and rejuvenation for my mind?

Courage and perspective

Would I have the courage to admit that some of the projects need to be tossed and feel the freedom from removing the guilt and heaviness connected to those particular projects?

Would all of this provide a new perspective and ability for me going forward? A perspective still filled with fresh concepts and dreams but this time under an approach to better filter, manage and distribute the best of the best and discard the rest.

And in the midst of drawing boundaries and living with margin in our lives, what if we slowed down to assess what already exists in the various areas of ideas rumbling around in our minds?

Should we always start something new? Is it possible a resource already exists and we shouldn’t recreate the wheel, so to speak?

The hard questions

Could we trust someone else to be in charge and purposefully choose to be a follower rather than the leader?

If we happen to be the leader, are we willing to listen to others who are interested and have ideas to share?

Are we willing to compromise on the nonessential parts of the plan, activity, project, ministry, etc., and pool our resources rather than work as individuals and actually end up competing against each other unnecessarily?

Lots of questions to ponder and not many answers, but thanks for hanging with me until the end. I would love to hear from you and learn how you are creating balance and margin in your life.

I’m also interested in knowing what you think about spending more energy pooling our resources to streamline and improve existing ministries and/or services instead of constantly starting something new. Comment here, email me at jrash@thealabamabaptist.org or message me @RashionalThts.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

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