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This is the season of fresh starts, new beginnings, and meticulous goal setting, which I am ALL about. (Can I get an “OH YEAH!” from all the Type A’s like me???) Today, I want to talk to you about goal setting and forming new habits.
I’m really good at making plans. I’ve already bought myself a new day planner. I’m figuring out a healthier meal plan that is actually practical. I’m considering starting a new exercise regime. I’m trying to get on top of balancing my budget. And, most importantly, I’m looking for ways to adjust my daily schedule to spend more time with the Lord.
However, I’m not always so good at following through with my plans to the very end. I’ll get some good traction, and it will work for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, and then life throws a curveball at me. I get knocked off my course. And then I’m left floundering, trying to find the will to get started again.
I’m embarrassed to tell you how many planners I’ve bought, started, and never finished. I’ve tried dieting and exercising plans before, but I always fall off the horse around birthdays and holidays. I know how to make a budget, but sticking to it can be a whole different story sometimes. And too many times have I kept myself too busy to spend time listening to the heart of the one who made me. If you’re anything like me, you know that struggle all too well.
My friend, I’m here to say that it’s ok to struggle.
Struggling means that you're still trying, still learning, and still growing. And growth is always better than sitting stagnant.
But there are ways to make the struggle easier, and the key is forming new habits! So today, let me share with you my top three tips about forming healthier habits!
Before you decide to lose weight (or whatever your goal may be), you’ve got to understand WHY you want to do that. Honestly, why is it so important? Because that is what you’ll be asking yourself when your alarm clock goes off an hour earlier to squeeze in that morning jog. When a box of donuts is sitting on the break room table calling your name, your own inner voice will be saying, “Why is it such a big deal? It’s just one donut.”
Every time you face opposition to your goal, you’re going to ask yourself “Why is this so important?” You need to be able to give yourself an answer.
James Clear covers this topic thoroughly in his book, Atomic Habits (Affiliate Link – I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases.). I’ve had the book recommended to me several times, and it is at the top of my “read next” list. Some bad habits do require us to quit cold turkey, but many of our habits are built better a little at a time, giving us time to adjust and grow.
A perfect example of this is the bamboo tree. When it first starts to grow, the bamboo plant spends 5 years seemingly dormant underground. It has to be watered and fertilized with no apparent growth. But after 5 years, the bamboo will suddenly break through the surface of the soil and grow 90 feet in just 5 weeks! You see, during those long 5 years, the bamboo actually was growing a root system that runs deep and wide, absorbing all the nutrients it needs from the earth and preparing for the day when it could finally produce its stalk.
Little changes in your life might not be very apparent at first, but when you keep at it, the big results will follow.
Face it. When you try something new, you are inevitably going to mess up at some point. You will put all your energy and hopes and dreams into your goal, and… you will fail. And that’s ok. The important thing is that you are willing to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward. If you fall down 100 times, you only have to get up 100 times.
So my friend, remember these things: When the going gets tough, focus on the reason you started your journey in the first place. Take baby steps to get there, getting better a little each time. And when you fail, get back up and try it again. If Thomas Edison gave up the second or third or ten thousandth time he tried to make a light bulb, we might have never had the convenience of indoor electric lighting the way we know it today.