Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?
Many of my friends have made all kinds of resolutions! Some have bucket lists for 2021, others have hopes for their future, I have some personal development goals I am hoping to accomplish, and a few brave souls have set out to read the entire Bible in a year!
Well, we are nearly three weeks into the new year and by now the average person has either forgotten their resolution or is still going strong. What about you? If you have been crushing your goals and are on the path to making 2021 the best ever, awesome job! But if sticking to habits has always been a struggle, allow me to share some tips in this very short piece on creating habits.
Our habits show our priorities
We spend our time on what is important to us. If we think spending time with God is important, then we make it a priority. Think of priorities like a stack—the highest priority is the most important, while the ones toward the bottom are lower priorities.
Most of us are in a habit of doing our homework because our parents have told us to make school a priority. Right now, our parents help us figure out our priorities stack, but as we get older, we get to make our own choices about our priorities.
What do priorities have to do with habits? Habits come from our priorities. Pretend you are a tree, your branches are your priorities and your fruit are your habits. You can’t tape fruit to a tree and expect it to stick, can you?
So, before you try to make a habit, you need to make it a priority. If you want to spend more time reading your Bible, making that a priority is more likely to set yourself up for success than adding a new task to your to-do list.
Specific, yet flexible habits
Now that you have made your new habit a priority, let’s work on creating a goal that is a good balance of specific and flexible.
Habits should be specific, because otherwise we won’t know whether we have achieved them or not. They should also be flexible so they can be adapted into our schedules when life gets hectic, rather than being brushed aside.
For example, one of my new habits to read a Psalm every morning. This is what my habit looks like:
- Read a Psalm every morning
But here is what I might do instead:
- Read a commentary on the Psalm
- Listen to it using an audiobook Bible
- Read it aloud or sing it
- Copy the Psalm in my journal
As you can see, I have multiple ways of interacting with the habit depending on the amount of time I have. This is a specific habit because I am accomplishing the same thing (reading a Psalm), but it is also a flexible habit so I have multiple ways of achieving the same goal.
Be creative and think outside the box! First, think about what you specifically set out to accomplish with your goal and then brainstorm some other ways you could do the same thing. Let’s say that you want to spend more time with your grandparents. Some ideas could be video calling them or sending them a letter in the mail.
Remember what I said at the beginning? Habits take about three weeks before they become part of your routine. Don’t get upset if you don’t see progress right away. Little by little, you will start to see them grow.
Even though we may try really, really hard sometimes, our plans don’t always work out. But that’s ok! God’s grace will cover our shortcomings. The most important thing to Him is our priorities and He wants spending time with Him to be the first priority.
Our priorities turn into habits, like praying or reading the Bible or brushing our teeth. These habits take time to learn, but we can make them part of our routine by being flexible.
What do you think? Have you ever started a new habit or quit an old one? How did you do it?