During my years as a teacher, I was 100% passionate about my students. I wanted every child to succeed, and I would not accept anything but their best. Despite that, I was a horrible teacher. Now I realize that it was because I did not know how to choose my battles. I fought every single one. Consequently, I burned out after three years.
I was always stressed. I remember looking at the calendar and realizing that over an 18 month period, I had not gone more than three weeks without some huge dramatic event happening – and I hated living that way.
Why couldn’t I just let things go?
Flash-forward a few years. I like to think I’m a little wiser than I was at 25. I have aggressively sought to grow in inner peace. Part of that was learning that:
Choosing your battles can be very freeing.
A woman in another department wanted me to follow a new procedure. In my opinion, it was a dumb procedure. I thought it through, the consequences of following this dumb procedure were low. One extra email per month for me. I decided that it was not worth the time investment, and I would not stress over it. I shut my mouth.
However, once when my boss was considering doing something that could have gotten us to legal problems down the road, you better believe I stomped my feet and refused to back down. The consequences of not backing down in that case could potentially have been a million dollar lawsuit. That was a battle worth fighting.
Choosing my battles does not come naturally to me. So here are the questions I have to consciously stop and ask myself:
1. Is this a battle worth the investment of my time? If not, just “smile and move on”.
2. Is this a battle I can win? For example, when the boss wants you to hire a relative. Don’t even waste your energy, that is a battle you are not going to win.
3. Is this MY battle to fight? Much stress can be avoided by just minding your own business!
If after asking yourself those questions you determine that it is your battle to fight, then by all means, be passionate about what you do! But if you answered no, consider that you could save yourself some stress just by learning to choose your battles.
Sometimes losing the battle is necessary to win the war.
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“Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14b