Usually about this time I’m sharing my goals for the year. But this year, I’m taking a different turn.
Since December 26th, I’ve been in prayer seeking God’s will for me in 2015, specifically asking:
- What areas do I need to work on?
- Where am I falling short?
- In what areas do I need to continue to grow?
- Where am I focusing too much attention?
- Where should I be focusing instead?
A lot has become clear to me in the past few weeks. God has been so good and has very gently shown me where He wants me to grow in the upcoming year, specifically that:
- I need to grow in love for my family
- I need to strengthen my relationships with my husband and children
- I have given way too much time and attention to distractions like social media and blogs
- I need to be digging deeper into His Word and meditating on it more, and that
- I need to start reaching out and being a light to others.
I’ve felt convicted to act. But this year, setting goals doesn’t seem to be the best way to do it. For me, once I achieve a goal I usually stop pursuing it and start over on something else. But I will never reach perfection in these areas, so instead, I want to create new habits in which the things that matter most are at the forefront of my mind. I don’t just want to pray more, I want prayer to be a regular part of my daily life. While running a 5K is a great goal, my aim this year is to strengthen my body and increase my endurance by exercising on a regular basis, not just when I can.
Habits only become habits when we do them over and over again. Repetition, discipline, and accountability are essential to forming new habits. Some people believe that an exercise or activity becomes a new habit after 21 days, but I’d venture to guess that it depends on the person and the task. I’m sure it took me longer than 21 days to get in the habit of brewing a cup of coffee first thing every morning. For something to become habitual, it’s got to be automatic, something you do without even thinking about it.
So, this month, I’m beginning with Spiritual habits. These are disciplines that I already practice, but none are as habitual as I would like them to be.
I’ve discovered that setting specific times during the day or week to do my tasks really helps me stay on track. So, I plan to write my cards on Sundays; read my Bible in the mornings when I will do my study and at bedtime when I’ll do my read-through-the-Bible assignment; pray “continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17); and recite memory work with the kids at breakfast.
You, my beloved readers, are my accountability partners. Each week I will share how I’m doing in each of these areas. My hope is that by February, they will have become rote. If not, I will just press on and keep doing them until they are. Next month, depending on how this month goes, I plan to set up some new habits in the physical health domain.
Note: This idea to cultivate new habits rather than setting goals was inspired by Leo Babauta’s post. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to do something different this year, and Babauta’s idea just clicked for me. Babauta offers some helpful suggestions for making new habits. I highly recommend you read his article if you’re interested in cultivating new habits.
Do you have some new habits you’d like to cultivate in 2015?
In what areas do you want to grow this year?