One of my strengths according to strengthsfinder is Learner. A Learner “will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you.” This has played out in my life repeatedly. I have never met a topic that I haven’t wanted to learn more about. According to my goodreads profile, I have read 2820 books. That barely scratches the surface because I did not start keeping records until my early twenties.
This strength is both complimented and enabled by another one of my strengths: achiever. “No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied.” I have a sometimes unhealthy obsession with goals and to do lists.
This means that I often find myself stretched in many similar but distinct directions through no one’s fault but my own. Most years I have not written out formal goals although I certainly had them. Recently though, I have written them out courtesy of my blog, any iteration. Sometimes the lists of goals even matched the year. In 2012 the list contained 12 items. The lure of my favorite number overpowered any sanity I may possess. I followed all the right advice, save limiting the number of goals. I made them S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based. I tried to check-in every month. Those final days of each month flew by, full of last minute attempts to be able to check the item off my list.
I look back on those goals and can remember few. Those that I do remember, only vague generalities come to mind. For instance, I know that every year I had some sort of number of books I wanted to read that year. In the end, how effective were those goals?
The goals were accomplished but I sacrificed quality for quantity. I added stress to my life. I wanted to do it all. This led to disappointment over not accomplishing an enormous quantity instead of celebrating what I had achieved.
As evidence to my typical “go big or go home” mentality, I own a 160GB iPod classic which Apple no longer manufactures. That iPod is crammed with podcasts, yet another way I supplement my learning. A couple weeks ago, I started listening to The Minimalists podcast. I wasn’t sure if this podcast would be a keeper or not knowing that I do not agree 100% with their take on minimalism.
As I listened, it grew on me. I have been moving down this path towards minimalism for a while now and the podcast helped me start to understand things I knew already. As I have listened these past couple weeks, I have begun to contemplate what brings me joy? How can I create a life that values quality over quantity?
This also aligns with my belief in Christ, my calling as a child of God. He does not want us to be busy with the myriad distractions of life around us. His sole purpose for us is to find the greatest joy in Him, in making His name great.
After spending a significant portion of the words published on this blog in its short life on goals/intentions for the year, I plan to shift focus. One of the things mentioned on the podcast is that we as a culture have perverted the word priority. That word literally means “first thing.” Even though people talk about their “priorities,” such things cannot exist. By matter of default, if one thing is first, nothing else can share that spot only replace that which used to be the priority. I had too many “priorities.” Even if I had all the time in the world or even as much as a person in a “normal” job has, I cannot strive after reading and writing and running and teaching and photography at the same time. Something has to give.
Even now as I have come to this conclusion and put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, I feel the tug, the alure of all the goals. I want to do it all even though I know that I can’t. Some of the priorities may be able to work together. I wrote that sentence just now without irony. Now, I look back and the absurdity blares forth. I certainly am far from perfect.
I do not know what this will look like as the year progresses although I have an inclination that writing may win out as my passion priority while performing well in my chosen profession will also have a seat at the table.
How does this all connect to the title, “more with less?” My hope is that as I let goal of all the faux priorities, I will reclaim quality, more, with what remains. I also hope to learn to be truly content with what I have. Thus less is more.