5 Steps to developing good habits

good habits

Happy New Year! It’s a greeting we exchange every year at the beginning of January. None of us know what 2014 will bring us. Many people try making resolutions only to have them fall by the wayside. Some people even refuse to set goals, explaining that only sets them up for disappointment and failure. Many of us want to make changes in our lives, but how do we set ourselves up for success rather than failure?

“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”   -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. Choose your thoughts – UCLA claims that we have approximately 48 thoughts per minute, 3,000 thoughts per hour, and 70,000 thoughts per day. Those thoughts affect what we do or don’t do and how we feel about ourselves and others. What kind of food are we giving our thoughts? Are we feeding on the truths of God’s Word? Philippians 4:8 instructs us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (NIV)
  2. Choose your actions – Just because we think about something doesn’t mean that we need to do it. We need to carefully choose our actions, sorting out our thoughts and picking out what should take precedence. As the quote above says, it’s easier to give up good habits than bad ones. Will I choose to be thankful today or complain when something doesn’t go my way? Will I choose to react when someone is mean or will I choose to love them anyway? These are little choices, but they all lead to results.
  3. Choose your habits – I find that my morning routines set the tone for my day and make it easier (or harder) to accomplish what I want to get done. I’m a morning person, so getting up at 5:30 works for me. If you are a night owl, perhaps what you do just before bed sets the tone for your next day. Find out what works for you. In my routine I include time to read the Bible and pray, time to sort through priorities for the day, time to catch up on e-mail, and time to share something inspiring on Facebook. This year, I’m also including 20-30 minutes of exercise because I want to do more than think about becoming more fit. Although some people say that a new habit is formed in 21 days, some researchers from UCL say it is probably closer to 66 days before something becomes “automatic”.
  4. Choose your character – When was the last time we stopped to think about what kind of person we want to be? What character qualities do we want to develop in life? (Check out Character that Counts if you need some ideas.) Some of the character traits that are important to me are: godliness, dependability, empathy, and joy.
  5. Choose your destiny – Where do we want to end up? What do we want to accomplish before we die? These are questions we often avoid. However, if we don’t tackle them, we will probably be disappointed. Those who do set goals start with a destination in mind. We have to dream before we can get down to work. Some people think it’s morbid, but what epitaph do you want on your grave? Martin Luther put it this way: “If you’ve got nothing worth dying for, you’ve got nothing worth living for.”

Lately I found myself thinking I should lose some weight and become more fit. These thoughts would flit in and out of my mind on a fairly regular basis, but that’s where it would end. In her book, 100 Pound Loser, Jessica Heights gives some helpful tips, including breaking goals down into small, attainable steps, like losing 1 pound a week. Last night I chose to take some steps towards healthy weight loss and fitness. This morning I shared my decision with my husband, so that he can keep me accountable. He also made my treadmill accessible so that I can use it again. I know that there will be ups and downs, but I plan to keep my destination in mind.

What about you? Did you make any resolutions or set any goals for yourself?

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