Introducing: The Basics
What’s the most important thing in your life? If you were allowed to have only three goals each morning when you woke up, what would they be?
How can we determine if we’re taking care of the basics? And if we realize that our lives are not simple, what can we do to get back to the basics?
I’m a recovering perfectionist. Wanting everything to be perfect may be a worthy goal, but you can’t ever reach it, and so most of your best efforts end in futility. Life is actually much more abundant when you focus on the basics, because when you’re content with the simple, it doesn’t become necessary to make it more complicated.
I have a mental checklist of four items in my head when I wake up every morning: God, exercise, water, bedroom. This is a list that has developed over time without a whole lot of intentionality on my part. Those are simply the things that I consider basic to everyday life. And I’ve found that if those four things are taken care of, my life is much more abundant.
Here’s what those four items signify for me:
- God: Reading my Bible, prayer, reading God-centered books
- Exercise: Running, going to the gym, walking the dog, group exercise, and – for the next 6 weeks – boot camp at 5:30 a.m. three times a week
- Water: Make water the primary liquid I drink
- Bedroom: Is my desk clear? Is my bed made? Are all my dresser drawers closed? (You laugh – but it’s an issue)
How Do I Decide On My Basics?
Having a list of four items isn’t necessary. Your list may have eight or twenty or one hundred items. My list works for me because it’s short and easy to remember.
If you’re married and have kids, they’re probably included in your ‘basics’ (If they’re not, I’d suggest some prayer and re-evaluation). If you have a job (unlike me), probably some of those responsibilities are on your list.
The point is not to make this complicated, but instead to force you to pare down everything in your life into the simplest terms possible.
Think about the things that mean the most to you. Think about the things that bring you joy. And sometimes it even helps to think about the things you least feel like doing when you’re not motivated at all. It sounds counterintuitive, but honestly, when I feel down, all I want to do is drink a bunch of coke, watch TV and totally ignore reading my Bible. There you have three out of my four basics (and who ever really feels like tidying up?).
Help! My Life Isn’t Basic At All!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry about trying to find your basics. It took me a couple of days to narrow mine down to the bare minimum, and I’m sure as things change in my life in years to come, my list will change as well. The important thing is making sure the basics are taking care of, so you can be better equipped to handle the nonbasics.
For the rest of the week, I’ll be focusing on each one of my basics in order to help you think about the things that are most important to you. Tomorrow: spending time with God.