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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Matthew Kelly

Fail on Purpose


“A place where everyone is striving for what isn’t worth having.” This is how Thackeray describes Vanity Fair in his novel of 1848. It aptly defines so much of our culture. “A place where everyone is striving for what isn’t worth having.” It aptly describes how many people approach Christmas each year. “A place where everyone is striving for what isn’t worth having.”


Welcome to Best Christmas Ever! In the next 28 days we are going to explore 28 Ways to Make this Your Best Christmas Ever! & 28 Things That Will Prevent You from Having Your Best Christmas Ever!


In the process we will cease striving for everything that isn’t worth having and focus our efforts on the very few things that matter most, the things we should strive for with our whole hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.


#1 is… Decide to fail on purpose. I know it sounds crazy. It is completely counter intuitive. It is the opposite of what our success-focused, over-productive, achievement obsessed culture tells us ten million times throughout our lives.


What am I talking about? You cannot do everything. You cannot succeed at everything. You cannot be the best at everything. And despite what the culture would like you to believe, you cannot have it all.


You have to choose. You cannot play golf and tennis on Saturday afternoon. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to miss out. We miss out on almost everything if you really stop to think about it. Every time you decide to do one thing, you are deciding not to do everything else. When you choose a career you choose not to do every other profession. When I chose to marry my wife, I didn’t think, “Oh, I am missing out on the other four billion women on the planet.”


Our lives are forged with tough choices or wasted in indecision.


It’s time to start intentionally neglecting things that don’t matter. It’s okay to fail at things that aren’t important. It’s necessary. It’s wise. It’s the only sane thing to do in a world full of unlimited options.


You fail every day. You are going to fail every day for the rest of your life. The key is to fail at the right things, to fail at the things that don’t matter.


So, as we begin this journey toward Christmas, take a few minutes and identify what really matters. Don’t make a long list. This will just set you up to fail at what matters most and lead you to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and defeated.


Choose three things. What really matters this Christmas? Your three things might be:


1. Host a wonderful family gathering.


2. Have a powerful encounter with God on Christmas Day at Church.


3. Make this an amazing Christmas for someone else.


This kind of clarity is liberating. By getting clear about the most important things, you begin to realize that there are a great many things that it is okay to fail at because they don’t matter that much. You can then decide what to intentionally neglect. You can decide what to intentionally fail at.


Whatever three you decide upon, keep them at the top of your to-do list as you journey toward Christmas this Advent.


You probably won’t get it right the first time, and you can change it as you reflect more in the coming days, but resist the temptation to add to this list. Keep the list at three. There will be other important things, but these are the three most important things. If you want to put something else on the list, you have to take something off the list.


This simple three item list will help you remain clear about what matters most this Christmas.


Keep another list with the dozens of things you need to do to prepare for Christmas, but at every point between now and Christmas, be clear about the three things that matter most.


Every time you feel obliged, compelled, or guilted into doing something for Christmas, reflect on your top three priorities and ask yourself, “Am I giving these enough time and attention?”


“Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least,” was Goethe’s observation, but we let it happen all the time. Decide, here and now, that this Christmas you will not let things that matter least rule over things that matter most.


If you want to have your best Christmas ever, begin by deciding what matters most, and then honor, celebrate, prioritize, and bask in those few things.


Release yourself from the tyranny of the trivial many and adopt the wisdom of the vital few.


Matthew Kelly


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