We all have those “projects” that have sat too long in the back of our lives, but we just can’t bring ourselves to let go of. We dream of the day we’ll finish that quilt made out of baby clothes, scrapbook those paper mementos from college, or learn to knit. Today as I’m packing up my house, I realize there are dozens of projects that I haven’t gotten around to finishing much less starting. So I’m challenging myself and you to find creative ways to let go of old dreams so we can focus on the 2-3 that we do want to invest our time in. So here are 10 ways I’ve come up with to let go.
10. Donate to a Cause
I wish there were more hours in the day so I could learn skills liking knitting/crocheting. But if I get honest with myself, all my learning energy is going into becoming a better writer. So every project I come to that requires me to learn a new skill, I’m looking for a charity to donate the supplies to. My friends at Homeless in Dallas make beanies for the homeless, so when I come across another bag of stashed yarn that’s where it is going. Get creative. Art supplies are in high demand for after-school programs. Cooking supplies and cookbooks can go to a women’s shelter. Even if you have a quirky interest and say collected a 1000 soda tabs in hopes of making something awesome, if you google “charity” or “non-profit” looking for “soda tabs”, you’ll get a dozen groups you can send them to.
9. Make Someone Else’s Dream Come True
Likely you are not the only one who dreamed of learning how to tap-dance, study the stars or taking up gardening. Those unused tap shoes and gardening tools are just taking up space. With a little networking, it isn’t hard to equip someone else to pursue their dreams. Ask around. Call a local dance studio and ask if they know someone in need of size 9 tap shoes. Find a boy scout troop to give your telescope to. Maybe you can even live a bit vicariously and watch them achieve their dreams.
8. Make Room and Time for Future Dreams
If you have children, somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve thought, ‘Maybe one day my kids will want to learn to….’ It’s that twenty year old car that you took apart in the garage that you have dreams of putting together with your kids. The problem is that it will be another 10 years before that dream is even a possibility. If you aren’t going to do it on your own, don’t save it for your children. Why? Because children come with their own purpose and dreams. If you clutter your life with “future projects”, then you won’t make room or time for the “now”. You’ll miss getting to help your kids make their dreams come to fruition.
7. Memorialize the Dream
Sometimes a dream is something we’ve done for a season of our life. Sports, dance, art, music. We hold on to the idea that we’ll get to do it again someday. But our bodies age, our lives fill up and we realize we’re never going to be a basketball champion. But we have these trophies, awards, and fond memories. So create a small display and take a photograph or two. Make a simple two page spread in a scrapbook for that dream with pictures of those trophies and handwritten memories. Maybe throw in the ticket stubs and ribbons. They’ll be great for your children and grandchildren to get to know you better and much more valuable than the trophies will ever be.
6. Make a Shadow Box or Memory Jar
This one requires a bit of a visual, but many of us bought into the idea we’d have time to scrapbook all those bits and pieces of our childhood. Better and quicker than scrapbooks is creating a memory jar or shadow box. Pinterest is full of them. Take all those tiny broken toys and put them in a jar to display. If you are a movie lover put all the ticket stubs in a shadow box in your TV room. I love the vacation ones and I bet they’d inspire me to take more vacations and not get caught up in the tourism industry sales pitch.
5. Let it Burn
I know it seems drastic, but sometimes drastic is what is necessary. This is useful not for sentimental projects but those projects that accumulate more stuff than we’ll ever use. Sometimes the only way to walk away is to completely destroy something. It cements it in your mind that this is the end. So put the card collection through the shredder, take all the metal projects to the scrapyard, or find another way to annihilate any ability to resurrect that project.
4. Upcycle the Idea
A few years back I had this idea for a calendar. It would be filled with black and white pictures of idioms like “At the drop of a hat”. It’s a great idea. I’d love to see it someday, but I’m not going to be the one to take the pictures or make the calendar and market it. HOWEVER, I have characters who can. I’ve found a way to incorporate that idea into another project. All that yarn you bought to learn to knit, might create really awesome little dolls for your daughter’s playgroup. This doesn’t mean you can hold onto everything. It means you can take an afternoon to use it differently. I have baby food jars that I had saved to make into something became great containers for emergency candles. Ask yourself if I had one afternoon to live and use X up what could I do with it/them?
3. Start a Co-op
This is great for those projects that we do on a rare occasion that require lots of tools-woodworking, gardening, tinkering. Find or start a makers group for that project. Meetup.com is a great place to start. Then as a group pass around the items needed. Often you can pass along tools for a season and let someone else enjoy using them. Because everyone contributes it is easy enough to lend and let go if you find you truly don’t have time to commit to the project.
2. Give the Dream Away
Sometimes a dream is too good to let die or throw in the garbage. Sometimes it is simply not meant for you to finish. Just as God gave David a heart to build a permanent place for Him to dwell, but gave the work to David’s son, Solomon, sometimes the passion we have is to lay the groundwork for something another person is to finish. Let someone else finish that quilt you started twenty years ago. Give that novel idea to a writer who shares a passion for the subject. This doesn’t mean go dump it on a relative, but let someone else pick up the baton and continue the legacy. Help them by providing the means and supporting their efforts to finish it.
1. Let the Dream Go And Wait
It happened in 2009 that my computer hard drive failed. I’d lost all the work on the novel that became Surviving the Stillness. I mourned it for a few months and then I surrendered the loss to the Lord. If He wanted me to write it, He would inspire me anew. In 2012, while cleaning out a box of old computer parts we found a hard drive from the laptop I’d had prior to the one that crashed. On it was 13,000 words of the original book. Three years had given me time to mature and when I set my hand to the work again it flowed. What I didn’t mention is that on that failed hard drive were lots of other projects. The entire 12 year plan for my daughter’s homeschool education, worship songs I had written, all the emails back and forth between my husband and I while he was underway. I had to let them all go. But the one God wanted me to have, He returned to me when the time was right.