Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to Fail to Develop Your New Habit

If there is something I'm really great at it's failure.

Aren't we all?

It's only after repeated efforts that we learn what works better than other things, what matches our personality and learning style, what seems to be the right path to success. And while I'm still navigating I thought I'd share a few things that I know just don't work when you're trying to make changes.

1. Take on too much.

Isn't it easy to let that resolution list grow into 20 things you *should* do this year? I have been guilty of it in the past- I divide it all up over 12 months, take a deep breath and pronounce it "do-able". Is it really though?


Not at all. And why set myself up for failure like that?

One of the changes for me this year is to continue a few goals that I was successful in last year (continuing to document the reading I do, and some knitting progress for example) and to focus my time and energy in developing just three habits over the year. Do-able? Much more, I think.

2. Wing it.

Who needs a plan?

Well, we all do- at least a small one. It usually takes a few steps to get where we're going with a new habit, but stepping closer to establish that habit without knowing where the actual steps are is, well . . . difficult at best. A great habit to develop is memorizing Scripture, but then it begs more questions. Which passage(s)? How are you going to go about it? What do you need to do each day and when are you going to do it?

Remember- the habit isn't in what you do, it's in the way you do it.

3. Center the habit in your desires instead of God.

A sure way to fail is to focus your habit on how much it will help you, how healthy it will make you, how happy it will make your children . . .

While those might be great side benefits, the real focus must be God. Is this something that God would have you pursue? Have you prayed? Have you asked Him?

4. Keep your new habit to yourself.

If you want to fail mightily, keep your new habit to yourself. Don't ask a sister, your husband or a friend to help you be accountable. Don't ask for help in any way as you take a step forward.

I know there is fear there, or at least there is for me. Failure is hard enough to deal with, but to fail in front of someone you care for? Sometimes it seems like there could be nothing more mortifying than that thought. But remember, two are better than one, three together better still. Is there someone who can keep you honestly accountable as you work to establish a new habit? Someone to pray with on the days you stumble, someone to praise God with you on the days you succeed?


Ann Voskamp invites us to write about habit building this week. You can visit her at A Holy Experience.

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