How to Decide What to Pursue in Life?
The world is full of opportunities, pursuits, and interesting ways to spend our time. As human beings, we can be incredibly ambitious, creative, and motivated -- the world is our oyster! I know there are times when I really just want what I want-I can actually be pretty selfish; just ask my husband! After all, I have my own interests, my own ambitions, my own needs, wants, desires, plans, and so on. But, while those things are important and I have every right to pursue them, it doesn't mean they are the most beneficial things for my life, marriage, or family (1 Cor. 10:23-24).
So how do you decide what to pursue? It depends on several components: Are you married? Do you have children? What life stage are you in? What other commitments do you have already?
If you're not married, keep reading! While the first one won't be relevant right now, it could be someday. And the other points most likely apply to your life now.
I've given a few ideas about how to decide which things to pursue or not.
Get the Support of Your Spouse
There have been many times throughout my marriage of 25 years, when I have pursued many of my own interests without a second thought as to how it would affect my husband or kids. Fortunately, it usually didn't take too long to realize that when I didn't have the support of my spouse, whatever I was doing turned into something that felt like pushing a boulder up a mountain. I would end up exhausted, frustrated, and in conflict with my husband. After all, I hadn't asked for his support, so why did I expect to get it? I had gone rogue without him! When I have his support, things definitely go more smoothly and are more satisfying for both of us, but it takes buy in for both partners.
Evaluate the Why?
Communication is key to getting buy-in, but make sure you do this before you commit! Talk with your spouse or family about what you want to do and why. Come prepared to explain how your involvement will impact the family, him/her, and you. What will it fulfill in you? How much will it take you away from the home/family? Is there a benefit to the family financially? Will others in the family need to step up to help out? Will it take too much out of you physically, mentally, emotionally to the point that you won't have anything left for them? How will you make sure that it doesn't? How long is the commitment? What other things are you or your spouse committed to? Where are there conflicts? Sometimes just going through this exercise has helped me to see that the thing I want to pursue is just not worth the sacrifice and time - at least for now. Eventually, there will be a time that is right to pursue that thing if it means that much to me (Ecc. 3:1).
Choose What to Pursue through the Lens of Your Family
As a young mom, I had so many things I wanted to pursue. I wanted to do it all! To help me figure out what was good to pursue and what wasn't, my husband and I made an agreement that we would only take on new commitments or projects if they benefited our family in some way. For example, should I work in the classroom or committee at my kids' school? Yes, that benefits the kids. Should one of us take a job that pays well but would take us out of town too often or too far? No, probably not (unless that's the only option). Should I take on a leadership role for a fundraising committee that will impact something my family supports? Maybe - it depends on how much my family will benefit from the funds being raised. Should he serve on the School Board for our kids' school district? Yes, direct benefit to the family. Do we join a Small Group or not? Go to church or not? Yes. We're doing it together and it benefits all of us. If you're single and don't have children, I'm sure there are other friends or family members, a dating relationship, etc. that needs to be considered.
Consider Your Life Stage
Special consideration should be given to your life stage and the ages of your children. When you have younger kids, involvement in things like sports teams, play groups, and school functions are a no-brainer (unless there is too much involvement that it exhausts everyone). Moms who stay home with the kids start to get impatient as the kids get older and tend to want to go back to the job market or get super involved in committees. Moms and dads who work outside the home are tempted to take on more responsibility at work. The questions I listed above are good to talk about with each other when making those decisions. As you both get older and the kids head off to college, there's more time and energy to take on more. But it's easy for him to have his interests and her to have hers, and what you get is a strained marriage and two ships that pass in the night. You want to avoid that!
Too many people forget that their pursuits impact the people in their lives. Hopefully, these tips will help you decide what to pursue and what maybe should be left to another time.
I would love to hear from you about ways you decide what to pursue or not. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, a great life is only as great as your relationships!
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Breakfast with Solomon is a daily training in godly wisdom. This popular daily devotion, written by Gil Stieglitz, teaches about the two paths to take in life -- wisdom and foolishness. Each one yields completely different results for life, as explained through the mouth of Solomon in the book of Proverbs, as God explains, motivates, and directs us to take the path of wisdom. It is the better path that leads to a healthy and vibrant life, but we have to know the difference.
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