Chatting with my mom, I mentioned we had put our hot tub up for sale. She was shocked. “But you love your hot tub. Like, really love it.” It’s true. I do love that hot tub. It was a gift from a friend, and I had it for over 9 years. But in December I sold it. Along with our ducks. Which I also adore.

My mom thought I was losing it. Selling off things I love. But it has less to do with my affinity for those things and more to do with our goals for 2017.

You have to take away before you can add.

We sat down in early December and said, “What are we going to cut from 2017, and what are we going to pause or streamline?”

Because sometimes things don’t need to go away forever.

Just for now.

Just so we can gain some serious ground in other areas.

If I am going to make a few huge leaps in 2017 on my goals, something has to give. I can’t maintain everything I already have going AND add a bunch of new things.

Streamline. Pause. Or cut.

I think this is why a lot of New Year’s resolutions fail. We can’t just add, add, add to our lives. Something has to be taken away first. Some things need to be simplified so they require less of our time and energy. Some things need to be paused for a time.

We have a finite amount of time, energy and focus.

With 5 little kids at home, a large percentage of my time, energy and focus has been spoken for. So I have to be very careful how I use the very limited amount left.

Before we started planning 2017, we looked at what we could cut, pause or streamline.

Here was the list:

Hot tub: cut/pause (sold)

Ducks: cut/pause (gave away)

Hunting: pause (we will still accept donation deer)

Buying real estate: pause

Clothes: streamline

Housekeeping: streamlined via purging, minimalism, and no toys in common areas or bedrooms

Laundry: streamlined via teaching 9 and 8 year old to do 1 load a day

Our home improvements: paused; only if it can be handled in 1 day (we might have to do work on the rentals)

Relationships: streamline; I am focusing mostly on relationships that have a strong mutual benefit.

This was a hard list to write.

It’s fun to write down all the amazing things I want to see happen for next year.

But this is where we have to start.

What am I going to cut? What can I pause for a year? What can I streamline?

Honestly, every single one of these things was a little difficult to write down (and harder to do!). You will notice from the list, none of these are bad things. They are all actually really good things. Buying rental properties has been a huge benefit to our passive income. But it also takes a large amount of time and focus. From checking the new listings each day, piles of paperwork for financing, touring properties, running numbers, to the actual closing, initial renovations, and finding tenants. If I am serious about my 2017 goals, this would be a huge distraction. Perhaps a profitable distraction, but distraction none the less. 2017 just isn’t the year. Maybe in 2018 we will buy 2. But I can either buy and renovate a new property in 2017 or I can hit my 3 big goals. I can’t do both.

I’m either fully committed to my 2017 goals or I’m not. And if I’m fully committed to these new goals, they have to get first dibs on my time, energy and focus. At the cost of something else.

At the end of the day, something had to be set aside to create space in 2017.

I think we love to hear that we can do it all, and nothing will suffer. Abundance theory might be true in a hundred other areas, but our time, energy, focus and willpower are extremely finite resources. For every new goal or dream we want to see significant progress in, we have to steal these resources away from something else.

Maybe we can maintain it all.

But we won’t make significant progress in any area.

If you want to see some significant progress in some areas in 2017, have you taken a bit of time to consider what you are going to cut out, pause or streamline to make that happen? This is step 1. It’s a test of your commitment to your new dreams and goals. What are you willing to give up to make them happen?

Other Reading:

One Thing

Cait Flanders on letting go of toxic relationships

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Bruce Van Horn: When you say “yes” you are also saying “no”

Let’s Chat:

Are there any things you are letting go of from last year?

How do you create space for new goals?

Have you ever “paused” something? TV, Social media, relationships, hobbies?