Working hard doesn’t wear you out: working hard and accomplishing nothing wears you out.

If you spend your time and energy trying to do something you can’t do, you’ll only experience frustration, fatigue, and failure.

How much better to understand where you can make a difference, and where your efforts are useless. Then you can spend your valuable time and energy in the right place.

Here are six things you might as well stop doing. All your time and effort will just be wasted:

1. Trying to fix someone else. Has it ever worked? The more you try to force someone else to change, the more they are determined NOT to change. And you seriously stress or damage the relationship in the process.

Instead, believe in them. Encourage them. Help them where they ask for it. (See How I Got My Husband To Change.) If you are in a position to do so, sometimes an intervention may be necessary, but only for truly self-destructive behavior.

2. Trying to change the past. “So you have a past. Who doesn’t?” (fiancé to Melanie Carmichael in Sweet Home Alabama). Your family of origin, your past mistakes, your previous life experiences – good, bad, or ugly, they are what they are.

Instead, frame your past experiences in a life-building way. You get to choose how your past affects your future. God has a great way of turning bad things into meaning, whereby you can then bless others.

3. Trying to be someone other than who you are. “It must be exhausting, trying to be two people.” (“ex”-husband to Melanie Carmichael, Sweet Home Alabama again). Trying to be someone else won’t work in the long run. It’s possible to waste much of your life trying.

Instead, relish the way God made you. Your personality, your gifts and talents, your skills, your wants and needs are unique. God needs you that way!

4. Trying to hide the truth. You might fool some people for a while, but eventually the truth will come out anyway. So you can stop trying to make excuses for your spouse’s or your children’s bad behavior, your financial circumstances, or anything else about your life.

Instead, honesty is refreshing. Give other people the dignity of their own choices. And when you must say something, try the truth for a change.

5. Trying to get someone to like you. You can’t make someone else feel a certain way about you, even if you try. If someone is determined to dislike you, dismiss you, or distance from you, it’s not worth the trouble to fight it.

Instead, focus on being the most inviting, interesting, and safe person you can be. Who knows: perhaps they will change their mind someday.

6. Trying to make God like you. Nothing you do can make God love you any more, or any less. He’s crazy about you already! All your trying doesn’t change His opinion of you at all. You couldn’t be good enough to win His favor on that basis anyway. But He’s pulled out all the stops for you, and is ready to give you every good thing.

Instead, rest in His love. If you don’t already know, take some time to read His letter to you (the Bible), to find out how He feels about you. Then respond out of gratitude, and love Him in return.

Don’t wear yourself out trying to do something you just can’t do. Life is too short.

Your turn: What have you spent time trying to do, that you couldn’t do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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