One of the most interesting phases of life is what Jon Acuff calls the Editing phase.
Editing is the phase of your journey where Michelangelo stands in front of the meticulously selected block of marble. Out of an entire quarry, this is the one he has chosen. And now, with a chisel and a hammer he will remove the pieces that do not belong so that David is finally revealed.
Jon Acuff, Start
At this point, you’re not just winging life any more. You have a vision for how you want your reality to look and you’re willing to work to get it there.
But maybe you’ve made one or two commitments you wish you hadn’t. They take more time than you thought or they don’t add as much value as you thought they would. But you made a commitment, so you stick with it.
If we’re going to live life on our terms, these are the kinds of commitments that we need to take a look at from time to time. How would things be different if you had that time back? What would it make possible?
What could you create if you could remove all the pieces of marble that don’t look like David?
This isn’t about being selfish. One of our basic human needs is to think past ourselves and help others. But we need to do this in a way that’s sustainable—what you might call win-win and not lose-win.
Consider what’s happening now. Across the world, we’ve had to scale back. Commitment after commitment has been cancelled, postponed, suspended, or redefined. I’m working from home. Church services are suspended. Schools have closed for the semester. Ballet class is cancelled. Piano lessons and play dates are over Zoom.
But this, too, shall pass. Some day, hopefully sooner rather than later, things will start getting un-cancelled. The kids will go to school again. We’ll have to physically commute to work again. We can go golfing again.
Until then, our week is a pretty blank canvas. We have more time to read. More time to play with our kids. More time to reconnect with people with whom we never should have lost touch.
This gives us an unusual opportunity. If you have breathed a sigh of relief at anything that has been cancelled, I think you need to ask yourself whether it deserves a place in your life.
You’ve emptied the junk drawer onto the floor. Don’t just put everything back in and go back to your old schedule. If you could add just one thing back, what would it be? Two things? How about three?
At some point, you’ll start to put back an activity and realize that you don’t want to. You’d rather spend that time the way you have been spending it.
So keep that change!
Some commitments will persist, like work, school, and church. Most, you’ll have the opportunity to renegotiate. Others will give way to make room for your David.
The highest of our basic needs is self-transcendency, making the world a better place. We work to make the world a better place for everyone, not just ourselves, and not just others. It’s okay to ask “what gives me joy?” and make sure that’s part of the world we’re building.
Question: How do you decide whether something belongs in your schedule? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
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