The outcome of your life is determined by your habits. Not your genetics, not your parents (so you can stop blaming them now), not your job. It’s your habits: the small daily behaviors that have made you into who you are today.
Success is the result of repeating a few simple daily disciplines, whereas failure is the result of a few errors in judgment, repeated day after day. Think of it this way: We are going to fly from Los Angeles to New York City. If we boarded the plane and it’s nose is just 1% off course, we would end up in either Albany, 150 miles to the north, or Dover, Delaware, 150 miles to the south. One percent is an unnoticeable change. We would never feel it, especially in an aircraft. We probably wouldn’t even notice a difference in course until we were well past Colorado. Flying over the Midwest we may notice a change, but when we expect to land in NYC and we are 150 miles off course, we will definitely notice the problem then.
We have gotten to where we are in our lives because of our simple daily disciplines, or our errors in judgment. If you woke up and found yourself 50 pounds overweight, it didn’t start this morning when you stepped on the scale. You developed those habits 20+ years ago. If your marriage lost its fire, it did not happen this morning when you woke up complete strangers. This started silently, almost undetectably, many, many years ago. On the opposite hand, if you are in the shape of your life, you also know that this didn’t happen overnight. There is NO MIRACLE PILL, WRAP, OR SHAKE that made that happen. You know this was not a quick fix. If you have the marriage of your dreams, you know it took work and some solid guardrails to protect that fire.
Uprooting bad habits can be difficult, but if you put a plan in place to start replacing those bad habits with good ones you will see your life start to take a new course. You may start making almond power bars to keep in the freezer for dessert instead of your Ben&Jerry’s. You may give up television after work to get in some quality time with your spouse. Nothing ignites a spark like a good (and weekly) date night. There is an exercise I learned in the Compound Effect called “tracking.” Decide for the next 30 days to be diligent about just one habit. You get out your notebook and start a log of the behavior you want to see change in your life. You need to SEE where your habits are taking control of your life. Conscious awareness is key! If you want a thinner waistline, you log every single bit of food (or drink) you put in your mouth. If you want more money in the bank, you log every penny you spend. If you want a better relationship with your spouse or kids, you log every minute you spend with them (and the minutes that are spent away from them). Soon you will find where your habits are in control of you.
At this point in my life I am very busy. I work long hours, many are slightly stressful, I have your lives in my hands, and a big burden for those who are still sick in my community, who I have not reached yet. Needless to say, at the end of the day, I’m tired. Some of you may resonate. You get home, turn on the TV with something mindless playing, and then tune out. You scroll through Facebook or the news, stress yourself out over things you have no control over and affect you in no way whatsoever, and then you go to bed too late. You sleep later than you’d like and you’re not ready to start the next day. All because of a habit that isn’t necessarily bad. You’re not hurting anyone, but can you see how this in no way helps you reach my goals in life. So start tracking! Every day track the time you spend reading your Bible, the next book you want to read, and how much time is spent on TV or social media. A small daily change, and tracking that new habit diligently, can dramatically change the trajectory of your life!
So I challenge you to think this week, “What is the area of my life that I want to see change? What are the small daily behaviors that I need to start changing that will land me in a completely different location next year (or many more down the road)? What behavior can I start tracking TODAY?”
– Dr Liz