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Lightening the Load

In January each year, I clean the slate for a new beginning. It involves getting a new calendar, setting goals for the year and thinking about what was learned from the year before.

Now that the slate is clean, the next step is to lighten the load. This was a term used by sailors when they had to get rid of ballast. Ballast is weight used to provide stability for boats. Sometimes they had to “lighten the load” for what was ahead, other times they had to take on more ballast.

The early American pioneers going west in their Conestoga wagons had a similar situation. They would get to places where some of the supplies once considered essential were no longer needed. Less weight was necessary in order to forge a river or climb a mountain. The once important sewing machine was now dead weight holding back the journey!

For 2014 it is necessary for me to have clarity on what I say "yes" to, what I say "no" to, and what I say "maybe" to. Each type of response provides definition for what is next. Saying no is a deliberate action, and for me, saying no is often not a choice between good and bad. Usually it's a choice between great and greater, a choice between good options and amazing options.

The yes answer tends to be the easiest, but it's the one that creates ballast that may need to be lightened later. What is yes in 2014, may not be yes in 2020.

For me, the "maybe" option is the hardest because maybe may actually be a "not yet." Maybe is disguised as an important yes still in the future or a present no that I am not ready to deal with this.

Maybe is the source of clutter in our lives. It lacks definition. It seems to be important, but we are not sure and so it is held onto. What do you do with maybe?

It is the clothes that once fit and you hope they fit again. It is the book that you are going to read someday. It is the project in your business that never gets done.

I find myself asking "why?" when I come to the maybes in my life. Why is this still here? Why is this important? Why do I not know how to respond? For me the holding pattern is waiting for clarity.

It is difficult to lighten the load on good ideas. As an explorer I want to ponder them and figure out a way forward. But sometimes the idea is not for me to carry further. By lightening the load, I release the idea so that it may have a new beginning elsewhere. Or if it is really viable it will reappear again for me and I will know what to do because of new experiences on my own life journey.

Considerations in Lightening the Load

1. What are my long-term hopes? 2. What goals do I have? 3. What are the priorities in the short term? 4. What is urgent that is taking me away from what is important? 5. What has changed in my world?

Lightening the load is not just a phrase from yesterday, it's a viable and necessary concept today. Over the course of our lives we accumulate much, both material and conceptual. Some is necessary for a lifetime, some for only a season.

When we lighten ourselves of yesterday's load it allows us to embrace tomorrow. In so doing, it is what makes today a better day.

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