How do you spend your time during any given day? And then, how do you feel at the end of the day?
People who spend time doing things that they don’t want to, feel exhausted at the end of the day. Our energy and attitude is closely tied to the choices we make, and what motivates our choices. What do I mean? Let’s get clear on choices and obligations.
First, what exactly is an obligation? It can be three things: an act to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment; or a debt of gratitude for a service or favor.
“When we do things out of obligation, we are not living from our hearts. If others expect us to do things that we are not comfortable doing, we may find that our inner state of being is less than peaceful or loving. Obligation can be a breeding ground for resentment.” (The Alchemy of the Desert – Second Edition, page 123).
Making it Personal:
I’ve been studying my choices a lot lately, and the reasons why I do things really surprised me.
I do a lot of things out of obligation or because I feel it’s the right thing to do. I haven’t had much energy the last few years, and I chalked it up to many things - tough job, long commute, life changes, stress from relationships, you name it. It wasn’t until I recently started paying attention to how I spend my time (and why!) that I really figured out what was going on.
My inner peace and joy was seriously impacted because I was spending so much time on things that didn’t fuel my soul. I rarely had a full love tank.
Things that restore me:
a good yoga class (once a month is not enough)
church on Sundays (haven’t seen my peeps in 7 weeks, but who’s counting)
kayaking (only going once a summer is a crime)
QT or a deep, vulnerable conversation with a friend (this is a struggle, Zoom just ain’t cuttin' it)
hiking somewhere new (haven’t been in years).
You can see, the things that I really love are not happening, because I haven’t made the choice to do them often.
In the last week, I have caught myself several times a day making a decision to do something, and then stopping to see if it really something worth doing, and why. By doing this, I gave myself the power to choose not to do it, and to do something else instead, OR choosing to do the same thing but with a better attitude about it. Serving Jesus and sharing His love is very important to me, and so a lot of things that I was doing out of “obligation” was actually sharing His love with people through my actions. That change in perspective fueled my soul.
What can you do about it?
To revisit the end of the quote above, “obligations can be the breeding ground for resentment.” This is a relationship killer. Whether its your friend that only calls when she wants something, or a family member who calls you because you’ll always say yes. Your energy and mindset shift when you do things out of obligation.
Keep in mind though, not all obligations are bad. Some are honoring. The Bible tell us to honor our mothers and fathers - if being a caregiver for one or both of your parents is on your plate, that might be an obligation that sticks with you. Maybe you can enlist some help of family or friends to give yourself a break. But, if you are clear that the obligation is something you really need to do yourself, you should see if you can change your attitude or mindset towards it so that your actions can come from a heart-felt love and not from resentment.
While we are under “stay at home” orders for this coronavirus, I think a lot of people are thinking about how they spend their time. Amber Rae is an amazing woman who has become best friends with her feelings and emotions, so you know I just love her (learn more here: https://www.amberrae.com/about). She came up with the Energy Matrix below, and I had to share it with you. It shows us the ways we spend our time, and I think that just by understanding how these are categorized, you can welcome a lot more joy into your life. We may not live in the “Joy” quadrant every single day, but as long as there is balance in how we spend our time, we’ll have more peace and joy in our lives.
And stay tuned, there is a lot more coming on my blog about how to manage our time, prioritize the important things, and matching those up to when we have the most energy during the day. There’s so much good stuff coming your way!