We Must Make Trade-Offs

Currently Reading (and being influenced by): Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (affiliate link)


One of the biggest obstacles to living simply in the suburbs (or anywhere else) is our misguided and misinformed attempt to fit everything into our schedules.

When we make all things our priorities, we make nothing our priority and the things we are truly jazzed about and that are most important do not get the attention they deserve.

Therefore, we must become skilled at making trade-offs.

Trade-offs are painful. Just this upcoming weekend, I have one of my children’s basketball games at the same time as a teachers’ meeting for a volunteer role I have at church.

Do I go to the game or the teachers’ meeting?  Which scheduled event is more in keeping with my true priorities?

I could convince myself that the teachers’ meeting only happens once while there will be a few games this season. Or I could look at my goals and see that strengthening and deepening my relationships with my children is a key growth area this year and make sure to be at the game with the whole family.

The fact is, I must make a trade-off and nearly all trade-offs have a bit of pain associated with them. There’s fear of missing out. There’s fear of disappointing people.

But in the end, we cannot do it all. It’s impossible.

We must learn to make the hard choices that are in keeping with our highest priorities.

Here’s a formula that might work:

  1. Admit you have to choose and can’t do everything
  2. Weigh the choices – never be too quick to give a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.
  3. Realize the best thing for you is to stick to YOUR priorities, not be a tool to help accomplish someone else’s priorities.
  4. Make an intentional choice that is consistent with your goals and desired outcomes.
  5. Watch your life begin to unfold like a more consistent set of choices.

Start practicing this in the little things (Essentialism author Greg McKeown’s suggestion).

Making trade-offs is a skill not many of us possess. It has to be learned, practiced, and strengthened.

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