Quit Doing Good–Unleash Your Best

By Doug Armey

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”  Henry David Thoreau

Most of us desire to achieve our absolute best.

Our lives fill with lots of good activities.  Our career, volunteer time, church, family, hobbies.  Fun things.  Important things.  Yet, when new opportunities open up we often don’t have any extra capacity.  So we either ignore it or we paste it into our over committed schedule.  Neither alternative works.  One we miss it.  The other we half heartedly pursue it.

Molly Cantrell-Kraig writes, “Once you reconcile the fact that every choice you make costs energy (time, money, effort), you start to view your commitments and investments with an entirely new set of eyes. “How much of my life am I willing to pay for this choice?” If I say ‘yes,’ to the PTA meeting, I’m saying ‘no’ to playing catch with my daughter. If I say ‘yes,’ to buying this $50K car, I’m saying ‘no’ to a good chunk of my retirement planning.”

Every activity costs time.

The one finite resource each of us has.  And we can only spend it once.  We may multitask with the best but we still spend our allotment moment by moment.  The key is to make sure we’re spending our time on what matters most.

I face those challenges too.  Deciding where to devote my time is one of the most difficult choices I make.  The activities are good.  They’re productive.  Worthwhile.  Enjoyable.  But to add in one more puts me into overload.  Then none gets accomplished well.  So the pruning is painful but essential.

How do we sort this out?  How do we know what and when to prune to allow new growth in our lives?

Proverbs gives a sobering thought, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15 NIV)

The struggle is all of the good activities are just that—good.  Yet, we need to go deeper.  Understand what’s best.

Some ideas that help me.

First, for me to figure out what’s best I need a clear idea of what I want. It’s worth the time to get apart for a few hours periodically and think about what you desire your life to look like.


  • What would I like to accomplish?
  • What does it mean to have true success?
  • What career could I have that leads to that?
  • What would I like my relationships to look like?
  • What do I consider financial success?
  • What do I want my spiritual life to be like?
  • What level of health and physical condition do I want?
  • What would I like to be remembered for?

Several years ago I spent time and wrote out strategic goals in all of those areas.  Through the years I’ve tweaked them but surprisingly they haven’t changed much.  I reread them every week.  It causes me to reflect and ask, “Am I on track?”  If not, “What do I need to change?”

That leads to the second point.I need to do something about those strategic goals.

I make course adjustments constantly.  Sometimes it means pruning activities that in a season were good but now are an obstruction to further growth.  The downside is when you cut out some of those activities you risk giving up things you like for something else that may not work.  But you won’t know until you try.

When I accepted the position of president of my Rotary club, one of the largest in the world, I took on a huge responsibility and time commitment.  Life was already full with my career, family, and other volunteer positions.  I soon realized I needed to prune some of my other commitments.  The phone calls and meetings, explaining to friends, that I needed to cut back with their organizations were painful.  Yet, absolutely essential.

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13, NET)

I know he was talking about eternal life.  But I think he was also talking about our everyday lives.  The ones who discover the best have narrowed their focus.  They home in on the essentials.  They prune everything that hinders them.  There simply is no other way.

What helps me walk this path is trusting ultimately that God is there and leading me. And if I will risk walking in the ways I feel led he will bring me into the best he’s designed for me.

Proverbs encourages me when it says, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT)

God knows my heart.  He knows my desire to use the gifts given to me to make my life count.  So I simply rest in his promise and trust he will guide me into the best.  In the midst of launching out into again a new venture I trust he will bring it to success and lead me into what is great.  The pruning is painful.  Yet, I believe I will look back and rejoice in the blessing.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with good things?  Is it time to prune?

Let me know what you find.

I hope this post has helped you.  If so please let me know and share it with others.  And if you aren’t already please sign up for regular updates.  I appreciate it.

Categories : Success


  1. [...] This caught my eye and made me think: "Once you reconcile the fact that every choice you make costs energy (time, money, effort), you start to view your commitments and investments with an entirely new set of eyes". From Quit Doing Good’s "The New Wealth Paradigm". [...]