It is part of the misguided and whimsical condition of humankind that we so devoutly believe in the power of effort-at-the-moment-of-action alone to accomplish what we want and completely ignore the need for character change in our lives as a whole. The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it a reality.
Last year I developed a running habit. After years of not being a runner, my feeble attempts at running turned into a real running habit. I’ve realized that what worked to finally help build the habit of running could be used to help build other habits as well. So, I’ve reverse engineered my running habit to find these 8 keys to unlock new habits. This post serves as an outline of these keys. Perhaps one day I’ll fill this out in more detail.
1. Think Long
• Mark Batterson writes: “We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in two years. But we underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years. Who knows what God could do in you and through you by 2020!”
• Who do you want to be in 10 years? Take steps now!
2. Get Motivated
• Why are you going to do this?
• You need a reason to keep doing it when it’s hard/boring/you just don’t want to today.
• Why are people often transformed at the lowest point of their lives? That’s when they are finally desperate enough to get motivated.
3. Act Small. Repeat.
• Choose small, repeatable, manageable actions and do them repeatedly.
• Goal is to form a habit
• 5 minutes a day of prayer forms a habit. An hour of prayer once in a while will not.
4. Get Buy In
• Important people in your life need to support you.
5. Just Start
• Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. Figure it out as you go.
• You don’t even know what you really need to figure out until you’ve tried it.
• It’s easier to steer a moving rocket.
6. Track it
• Keep a log of your new habit.
• Great encouragement to see the time added up.
7. Resist Resistance
• Don’t wait until you feel like it.
• I hated running for 9 months. Now I love it.
8. Keep Showing Up
• Don’t let failure yesterday keep you from success today.
Have any of these keys helped you to unlock a new habit?
Have you found something else helpful?
2009 was the year that, for the first time in my life, running became a habit for me. Running 2 or 3 miles at a time (and never more than 6), I managed to run 250 miles in one year.
That’s the power of habits.
What habit do you need to start in 2010?