Making Sticky Change
Part of being a biblical man is making decisions about who you want to be. Exerting self-control over your thoughts, actions and lifestyle are the fruit that is brought about by the Holy Spirit. Every day, we should be examining ourselves to find things that we want to change or mold in a different way to reflect Christ.
Self-control comes down to discipline. Our lives are the sum of the small decisions that we make. We do not get wealthy, in shape or learn a language by accident. These things are accomplished by faithfully investing, choosing the right foods consistently and practicing the language daily. When we understand this, it breaks down large goals that seem insurmountable into bite-sized chunks.
Why is it that we can go from being so fired up about change, to settling for the mediocre so quickly?
I argue that it is because we try to make changes in our lives too quickly.
- 41% of all Americans make a New Years resolution
- 72% of those Americans make it one week
- 44% of those Americans make it 6 months
This means that withing the first week of deciding to make a change, ~30% of Americans have already given up! and another ~30% wash out in half a year!
Life is Like a Train
I have found it helpful to view my life like a train. Not a speedy train in Asia, but one of those long freight trains that you get stuck waiting on at the RR crossing.
When starting from a standstill, it requires a large amount of force over a long period to get it going. Once the train is up to speed, the engines do not have to work as hard because they are just maintaining the momentum. When they decide to stop, it can take 18 football fields for the average freight train to stop.
The path we are currently on is the sum of a lot of decisions and effort over a long period of time.
–Your Career: You invested massive amounts of time on schooling, licensing, job-hunting, interviewing, continued education, and worked 40 hours a week to get where you are.
–Your Body: Most of us make decisions daily that affect our bodies. If you work out, you cannot count the number of times that you walked into a gym. Three times a day you decide what to eat. You brush your teeth twice a day every day. We spend $10,345 per person annually on health care.
–Your Spouse: If you are like me, you spend money of dates and gifts and a ring all before your marriage day. Every time you talk to your spouse, you either build up or tear down your relationship. Our relationships are the cumulative effect of how we interact with our wives dozens of times a day.
How to Make it Stick
In order to make lasting change in your life, make small, meaningful change that you can keep up over time.
Make a plan
Decide what it is you want to change about your life. The first step towards making positive change is realizing that there is something you are unhappy with. Use the SMART acronym.
- Specific- narrow your focus on one small aspect. If it is too broad, it can lead to indecisiveness.
- Measurable- make sure that you have a way of quantifying the change that you want to see.
- Attainable- is this something I can achieve? If not, how can I tailor it to something that is?
- Relevant- will this goal affect the change that I want in my life?
- Time-Bound- Set a timeline to force yourself to get to work.
One goal of mine was to find a job in Charlotte when I decided to leave the military. I achieved this goal because I made it very specific, wrote it down and kept it in front of me every day at my desk. I used the SMART format to assist me.
“I want to find a job for after the Army” – No time frame. What kind of job? How long after you leave the Army? Where do you want it? How much will it pay?
“I want to find a job in Charlotte, NC that pays at least $60,000, and I want to start by the end of April 2017”
The wheels come off goal setting because we get fired up and then the going gets hard. We lose focus, and our goals seem less achievable.
It is easy when we have an HD picture of our dream to set lofty goals. But, these lofty goals can actually discourage us from action down the road. Instead, make your goals easily achievable. This will get you moving in the right direction and give you an early win to keep you motivated. You can always set another goal after you achieve the first one.
Let me know if you have any tips on goal setting or a story of how you achieved a goal.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.