What’s one thing that will produce dramatic results in your life, for good or for ill? Habits. Today, we’ll explore why habits are so powerful and what you can do to take advantage of an amazing source of power within your own life.
Your Stomach Has Habits
For our purposes, we’ll define a habit as something you do consistently, with little or no conscious effort or decision-making. One simple example that illustrates this point is a habit most all of us have: eating breakfast. When you wake up in the morning, how much time do you spend thinking about whether or not you’ll have breakfast? If you’re like me, none. I may spend a minute thinking about what I’ll have for breakfast, but I never deliberate on whether or not to eat it–I’m hungry and breakfast will be eaten!
Other examples of habits may include listening to a certain radio station on the way to work in the morning, visiting the vending machine at 2:30 each afternoon, or taking your spouse our for dinner one Friday each month.
So what does this have to do with finding incredible power and effectiveness on your path to thriving? The secret lies in the cumulative force of months and years of positive habits. One clear example of this power is shown by bodybuilders, strength trainers, runners, and Olympians. Look at an athlete who engages in one of these activities and experiences success. What did they look like last week? Last month? Last year?
The answer is that they made it to where they are currently via steady progress. Like the stream of water that eroded a large rock, these athletes made gains one day at a time. They ate right and hit the gym while everyone else was pigging out and goofing off, and now they sit at the head of the pack as a result.
Winning in Your Life
You don’t have to have the fire of an Olympian to benefit from this concept. Just take this principle and apply it to whatever area of your life where you desire dramatic improvement. If you want to be a great dad, but have thusfar been lacking, decide today to spend 30 minutes every day on improving. This could mean helping your daughter color for 30 minutes, going for a bike ride with your son, or reading a book on parenting. The point is, it’s got to be a habit. 30 minutes, every day [or 5 days a week, at very least].
Perhaps you’re dissatisfied with your financial life–you know you should be doing a budget but you just can’t stick with it. The answer is habit. Block out a set time each week to spend time on your finances. During this time (say Monday nights from 7-8), balance your budget, pay your bills, set and track your goals, or read a good book on personal finance.
The First Step
As in our example, your physical fitness is a great area to test this idea and see real and dramatic results within a relatively short period of time. If you don’t currently have a fitness regimen, try this: put your workout clothes on every day, starting today. I don’t even care if you work out at first–just put your workout clothes on, every day. Once they’re on, how about doing a few jumping jacks? Get your heart moving, even if just for 5 minutes. Then, carry on with your evening as normal, you’re done for the day. Tomorrow, get the workout clothes on again. Try some pushups or squats, or maybe one of the workouts posted in the ThriveFit section of the site. But do something, and keep it up, every day.
If you’ll do this, committing to doing something every single day, you’ll look up a month from now and notice huge gains in your fitness level. You’re getting there one day at a time, just like Olympians do.
Habits for Eternity
Finally, consider your spiritual life. Do you have any habits that will feed your soul? Do you attend a church with gospel-centered preaching where the Word is shared each week? Do you seek the Lord in prayer, or read the Bible to commune with Him? If not, you are missing profound wisdom, comfort, love and hope from the Father who loves you more than anyone else. Will you begin today by seeking Him in prayer?
By adopting these habitual practices–spending time working on an area of your life where you desire improvement–you will gradually begin thriving, with success building on success. The next thing you know, you’ll be standing on the mountain heralding to others that they can get there too. All they’ll is a little encouragement and a few good habits!