Sometimes there are things we know we should do, so we do them. Eating falls into this category (normally), as do any of the routine rituals of personal hygiene (hopefully). Neglecting those things have immediate and obvious consequences. (There’s a reason the word “hangry” no longer triggers the spell-check on my phone. It’s a thing. Believe me.)
Sometimes, though…well, the things we should do aren’t so compelling. We know we should exercise, for example…but because we don’t immediately feel the pounds accumulating or see the damage done to our hearts, it stops being a need. We shrug it off and take it out of the “should” category and secure it a place in the optional “could” category.
And things in that category? Well, judging by the perennially sad state of my yard that I “could” learn to landscape and the thousands of pictures on a thumb drive that I “could” compile into a photo book and the healthy recipes I’ve saved on Pinterest that I “could” start making myself…but that have never even clicked on to see anything more than the picture? It seems like the “could” category should be relabeled as “meh.” And the “meh” category doesn’t usually register on the radar. The “meh” category is the dark void where good intentions go to die.
And that would be okay, except for one thing: changing the position something holds on our list of priorities doesn’t actually affect how important it is.
Did you feel your world lurch a little when you read that? I felt it, too.
You can’t ignore the need for food…water…sleep…hygiene indefinitely. You’ll see the consequences pretty quickly. The consequences of neglecting exercise, eating poorly, and sleeping in instead of getting up for quiet time with Jesus (yeah, I went there) don’t show up right away, but they are no less severe.
And that last one? About the quiet time? That one has always been a struggle for me. A.l.w.a.y.s.
About six months ago, though, I started a challenge with a group of friends from church. We all knew we needed to get up earlier; many of us wanted to have time for unhurried prayer time before the kids woke up, but some just wanted an earlier start on the to-do list. Regardless, we all knew this was a change we needed to make, but that we had until that point relegated to the “meh” category.
We all reached that “enough is enough” point around the same time, so we came up with a solution that has worked incredibly well. It’s revolutionary. Are you ready?
One girl, who has no problem getting up early, volunteered to text the rest of us at whatever time we needed to be up. For me it was 6:00. For others, 6:30. Faithfully, at whatever time we told her, we could expect our phones to go off.
And the thing is, getting up at 6:00 wasn’t automatically more appealing, but it motivated me to know that I had others who were dragging themselves out of bed, too. The awareness that we aren’t the only ones is powerful in any situation; in this situation, though, it has literally changed the way I live my life. Six o’clock comes just as early as it used to, but now it’s time to get up – not snort, roll over, and go back to sleep.
My point is this: there are things we all know we “should” do. Pretending they aren’t important doesn’t change the fact that we should do them, so we ought to be open to the idea of trying different things to make them become priorities. Maybe you need accountability. Maybe you need to organize your kitchen or laundry room or office a different way. Maybe you need to get off your phone and go to bed earlier. Whatever it is that you need to do, do it. Chip away at the “meh” category until the only things left really don’t matter all that much. (And if you find you have extra time on your hands, feel free to come take care of my yard. I’m kidding. Partly.)