Take Inventory of Your Life

Have you decided to take an inventory of your life lately? An interesting thing has happened as I have gotten older, I have started to revisit some of the dreams I had when I was first married.  It is a fascinating deep-dive, especially with all the baby-raising and homeschooling I have been focused on for so long now.  It is almost like it comes in cycles.  Every five years or so I feel the pull to simplify, to slow down.

This year, my word of the year is simplify.  In the past simplify has meant back to basics, back to the land, self-sufficiency.  And honestly, it still does mean that to me, to an extent.  But, it also means to really consider my time, to consider my relationships, the things that I say yes and no to.

How do you decide what the most important things are?

Every year I do a pretty large reflection.  A reflection on my year as a whole, the goals I set for myself, as well as what I hope to accomplish in the year ahead.  But, sometimes, that can be really challenging, especially if I am trying to slow down, to simplify.

You look at all the things, and it can be overwhelming.  There is so much to get done, and so many things you want to do, how do you even prioritize which you should start with?

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This year I am using the book Rhythms of Renewal to help me focus on what is most important.  It isn’t a manual, but gives great ideas to center yourself on your most important thing.  For me, that is faith and family.  Those two, above all else, are what matter.

Taking an inventory is where her process begins.  You are looking at your life as a whole and figuring out what your priorities are.  This is so incredibly important, and something that I do constantly, but, the part that really helped me was to theme my inventory.

I have talked at length over the years how I use a word of the year to guide my goal setting process.  It helps me to see exactly what I am focusing on in the year ahead.  This year it is simplify.  I want to make sure that I am only doing the things that are most important.  That I am pouring life into the relationships that I value.  And that I am not focusing on the places that do not matter in the grand scheme of my life – where I say yes when I should say no.

I have felt this shift in myself.  A shift to how life used to be.  For me, for my family.  

Now, obviously a lot has changed over the years, and not everything can be exactly the same.  But, when I look at those times that I felt such peace about my life, where I knew I was doing exactly what I should be doing, when I was taking the time to focus on my most important tasks, and letting the noise go.  That is what I want to get back to.

Rebecca Lyons gives four questions to consider when taking inventory in your own life. 

            “What’s Right? What’s Wrong? What’s Confused? What’s Missing?”

She advocates for taking time every day to consider these questions, with a bit of a longer evaluation quarterly.  I think that this is a great way to constantly put yourself on the right path for you.  It doesn’t mean that every day will be easy – far from it.  Instead, you are evaluating and re-evaluating regularly, which allows you to make small adjustments along the way.  This means that instead of huge change that seems monumental to overcome, you are making smaller changes every day to set you on the right path.

I have talked before about my monthly reset days, days that I set aside specifically for “thinking” tasks.  I know that I have this time available to me to course-correct.  Making a list of items to consider at a later time allows me to not focus on them every day and know that I will have time to deal with it at a specific time in the future.  This allows my brain to let go of some of that stress because I have already decided to deal with it at a particular point in the future.

This may be why planning is so cathartic for me.  It allows me to process without a huge amount of stress involved.

Now, that does not mean that my life is perfect – not at all.  I have struggles just like everyone else, but I have come up with systems and strategies to eliminate a lot of the decision fatigue that comes with life, and that is the secret sauce to feeling productive and happy (for me) most days.

Take Inventory: Next Steps

So, what are the next steps for you?  I would encourage you to put a date on the calendar where you can focus on these thinking tasks. Take inventory of your life.  Also, look at your commitments.  Why are you saying yes to certain things?  Is it out of obligation?  Because you have always said yes to that thing?  Do you feel guilty if you say no?  What would happen if you said no instead?  Do you think the world would crash around you?  Or even if you said no for a time?  Consider that!

Then, think about your word of the year, or your theme, and see if you can answer the four questions with that word or theme in mind.

I will leave you with a quote from chapter 1:

“It’s easy to get caught up in the endless, anxiety-inducing cycles of producing or parenting or networking or serving.  It’s easy to believe we can’t rest from our work, that we have to push, push, push into the next obligation or we’ll fall behind.  But we have to rest from those cycles long enough to take inventory.  If we don’t, we might miss God’s best for us, the plan that will bring us ultimate rest from a very demanding world.”

I hope you are able to start considering rest as part of your renewal process.  Taking inventory is a great way to start that process!

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