The Necessity of Self Editing

While driving home from Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, I listened to Pete Holmes’ interview of Liz Gilbert on his podcast You Made it Weird. I’m a huge fan of both Pete and Liz, so I was super interested to hear them interact for two hours. And while I loved it, it was mostly a rehash of things I’d heard each of them say in other settings. Except this one thing.

Liz was talking about the time it takes to hone one’s craft, the determination, the focus, and she told of how one time a mentor asked her, “What’s your favorite television show?” I can’t remember what Liz answered, let’s pretend it was Game of Thrones, but the interesting part was when her mentor replied, “Not anymore.”

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Late last week, I ruthlessly deleted a bunch of games from my iPad. I just didn’t need the distraction anymore. Right now, in this season of my life, I’m a little obsessed, intense even, about becoming. I’m deeply curious about myself, about the world, and I want to give as much time as I can to that pursuit. At 41, I’m not ready to settle into my easy chair and turn on the cruise control. I don’t believe I’ve yet discovered the best version of myself, nor have I yet found all that I’m really good at. Playing games on my iPad isn’t going to get me where I want to go, just like watching Game of Thrones wasn’t going to develop Liz into the writer she wanted to be.

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Listen, there are big things you are being called to do. There is so much life to be lived. If we want a particular kind of marriage, for example, it may be time to put away the bottle of wine every night after dinner so we can give ourselves to making our marriages better, rather than slipping into a quiet lethargy every evening. We may have fitness goals, spiritual hopes, career dreams, and the only way we will get there is by choosing to edit ourselves, so we have the time and energy to go after what we really want.

Let’s take me as an example: I know when I get serious about fitness, there are some foods we simply can’t keep in the house, and there are some situations I just can’t put myself in. I just know that the better version of myself, the one I’m really striving for, won’t emerge until I free myself of all the things that divert me from my goals.

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But it’s not just potential vices that we need to edit. Over the last couple of months, I’ve had to make choices about the voices I let in my head. I’ve ‘unfollowed’ a lot of people on Facebook. I’ve had to re-examine my internal narratives and discount voices that I’ve allowed to have a space in my head. I’m choosing to read some types of things, ignoring others.

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I don’t know what your thing is. I don’t know what you want that you currently don’t have. Maybe it’s something in your marriage, or in your level of fitness, your spirituality, a career goal, or even just a sense of inner peace. But what I do know is this: you won’t get the things you desire until you sacrifice for them. The things in life that are most worth having nearly always come at a cost.

So how about it? What do you really want? What do you need to edit?

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  • Paige Staes Whitney

    Thank you for this insightful message. I’ve been on a journey for what seems like years…searching for what I’m not always certain. Right now, at this moment, I know that I not want but need to come to peace with where I’m at, the person I’ve become, and how I choose to proceed in raising my kiddos. Ironically, I never looked at it in terms of “editing” my life…but that’s exactly what I need to do. Inventory what I have or have been holding onto that is hindering me from reaching my goals, and eliminate them…even if that includes people.

    • It’s hardest to eliminate people… and even the language sounds harsh… but there are definitely people in our lives that we need to stop giving head space to, and probably calendar space as well!

  • Seth K

    I’m terrible about it, but life is better when I’m on a low-information diet. Only 5 shows on the DVR subscribe list…5 too many

    • Yes! I can be such an information collector! It’s hard to keep myself balanced.