None of us want to waste one minute, much less one year! But it’s so easy to do if we aren’t careful, isn’t it? At least that’s what I’m finally figuring out.
It’s like I blinked, and I was 30! I blinked again, and I was 40! So, only a few more flutters of the eyelashes and I’ll be a card-carrying AARPer drinking discount coffee!
And I’m not the only one! That’s your story too, my friend.
So how can you and I avoid wasting this coming year?
In this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, I give you five time-wasting habits to avoid. Plus, you’ll get five Scriptures to help you live every day to the fullest no matter what the calendar holds.
Your life, my life—all our lives—are way too important and valuable to waste them. Let’s get intentional as we ask God to help us understand what this coming year can look like!
5 Ways to Waste This Coming Year
If, for some odd reason, you feel the need to waste your next year, here are five ways to do it!
- Look back—live in the past. If you want to endure a long year of regret, focus on how things used to be. Look back to how much better you felt, how much thinner you were, and how much better it was when the kids were home, or you had that job, or you lived in that house. You get the idea!
If you focus on only what was, you won’t live in what is. And, there’s no better way to waste a good day than to pine away for long-gone days. If you only focus on the past, always looking back, you’ll miss the growth, blessing, and beauty of today. You do this for the next 365 days, and by the time the year comes to a close, you’ll have glorified the past, missed the present, and have no excitement for the future.
There is a healthy remembering, though, which is what the Israelites did. They put up monuments using stones of remembrance. But the point was to remember what God did and His faithfulness. That’s the only kind of constant looking back that you should do. You don’t need to overlook good memories, but just don’t live as if the way it was is the only way it can be.
- Look down—be negative. If you choose to focus on what’s wrong, all you’ll experience is what could be better or should be different. A negative spirit makes every day worse than it has to be and every burden heavier than it really is.
Negativity is also a time-waster because it never adds joy or vitality to your life. It only depletes you and drains your peace and wellness. If you really want to just wander through the next year with nothing to show for it, be a no-thinking, gloom-gazing, glass-half-empty (with a hole in it) kind of person, and you’ll surely arrive at 2022 with nothing but complaints to show for it!
The good news is that negativity’s a habit, and you can break that habit because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! If you need some practical tips on how to do this, check out episode 8 on how to see the good even on a bad day by creating goodness grabbers and episode 26 on how you can be happy when you don’t feel it.
- Look in—be consumed with yourself. Nothing will help you waste the next year better than being totally self-absorbed! If everything is all about you all the time, you’ll find that you’ll spend lots of time attending to your insatiable need to make yourself happy. And, since being on your mind all the time is so demanding, you’ll have no time to think about anyone or anything else!
The thing about this time-wasting habit is that by the time the year is up, you won’t just feel like you wasted time. You’ll also feel completely isolated and victimized because nothing and no one ever satisfied you. Selfishness is a bait and switch. On the surface, it offers promises of satisfaction and gratification. But, once you indulge, you end up lacking everything you longed for. Selfish people aren’t happy people.
Selfishness is also sneaky because self-care does matter. Self-awareness is important, but it’s easy to cross that line and be the only and biggest thing on your mind all the time. So, it helps to think of Galatians 2:20, where Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” That’s the only way to live well and not fall into the trap of everything always being about you.
- Look ahead—worry about the future. Looking ahead to ponder what we want the future to be like is a good thing. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it! So, looking ahead and setting goals isn’t a bad thing. But you waste time if you look ahead so much that you don’t live today well.
If your look ahead becomes a worried stare into the future unknowns, then you will miss out on today because you’re speculating about tomorrow: “Will we have enough money?” “What if I get sick?” “What if…” If you focus on the “what if,” then you’ll completely waste what’s right in front of you—today! And then when the calendar turns the page marking next year, you’ll find that all that worry has to start all over again. So, if you really want to waste time, worry your time away!
It’s been said that only about 10% of what you worry about actually happens. One study even showed that, on average, 91.39% of participants’ worries did not come true (in other words, only 8.61% of their worries did come true). So, statistically, it’s worthless to worry! No need to bother with it since it’s a waste of time! Like Jesus said, worry won’t add one day to your life (Matthew 6:27).
- Look away—stay distracted. Just like you can mindlessly spend money—a little here, a little there—until suddenly your wallet is empty and you have no idea where the cash went, you can do the same with your time. You can spend hours and days on little distractions until eventually, years pass, and you wonder, “Where did the time go?” “What did I do?”
Distractions are helpful to give you mental breaks. Distractions can actually spawn creativity and give you needed rest. But they can also lead you to detours and aimlessness if you aren’t careful. If you really want to live out your next year with nothing to show for it, respond to every impulse, never say no to anything anyone ever asks you to do, indulge in distractions, and avoid the discipline of setting any goals and striving to meet them. Then, ah-ha! A whole year will pass in the blink of an eye and you may not even notice since you’ll be so distracted!
You can plan healthy distractions, though. Set a timer on your social media scrolling. Enjoy the distraction but give it a time limit. Choose to daily distract yourself with a walk or a good book. The goal isn’t to eliminate distractions, just to manage them wisely.
5 Scriptures to Help You Avoid Wasting This Coming Year
God gives us truth for every time-wasting tendency we have. He knows our hearts and hopes and gives us what we need to live like we really desire. So, pick your time-waster tendency and grab the Scripture below. Write it out, memorize it, and let it guide you this year.
- Ecclesiastes 7:10. To not waste your time looking back and thinking your best days are behind you, let Ecclesiastes 7:10 guide you: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”
- Philippians 4:8. If you don’t want to waste time looking down, being negative, or Eeyore-ish, let Philippians 4:8 be your go-to: “… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
- Phillippians 2:3-5. If you have a tendency to “look in” a little too often and don’t want to waste time lost in selfishness, then make Philippians 2:3-5 your new standard: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interest, but each of you to the interest of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
- Matthew 6:25-27. The fourth way to waste your year was to look ahead with a worried stare. So, if your time-wasting weakness is to look ahead with a worried stare, focus on Matthew 6:25-27. This is Jesus talking here: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
- Proverbs 4:25-26. If you don’t want to waste time with distraction, you know, the tendency to “look away,” focus on Proverbs 4:25-26: “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”
Friend, you can look back in all the best ways! You can look up to Jesus. You can look inward and search your heart. You can look around to see the goodness of God. And, you can look to His Word every day.
God is with you, my friend! He goes before you, and He walks beside you. May you know the presence of the Lord today and every day.
Books, Bible Studies, & Music by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself audio book
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
- Walking by Faith: The Music Captured Live CD
- Dwell Bible App
- Can I See the Good Even on a Bad Day? [Episode 8]
- Can I Be Happy When I Don’t Feel It? [Episode 26]