Developing Godly Habits

Habits have an amazing impact on us. When we wake up to start our day, we are not at a loss of what to do first. Running on autopilot, we pour coffee, brush teeth, and every other thing we do during our morning routine. Even when deciding what to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner we generally reach for our same favorite foods and drinks from week to week.

"Habits form about 45 percent of your total behavior, according to a Duke University study. Not only that, but they are behaviors that you repeat frequently, which compounds their significance in your life. The reason people fail to change their lives, and fail to instill new habits, is because they try to do too much at once. In simplest terms, if your new habit requires more willpower than you can muster, you will fail. If your new habit requires less willpower than you can muster, you will succeed. The key is to miniaturize what you want to accomplish. You can change nearly any area of your life, and at one mini habit at a time, it’s easier than you think." Stephen Guise

The Life Transforming Power of Habits

Like a strong river current, habits pull us along. If our habits are pleasing to the Lord, then that strong pull of habits is a good thing. If not, something needs to change. But the beauty of habits is if a habit is pulling us in a direction we don't want to go, we can gently replace that habit with a new better habit. And if we'd like to do something that seems out of reach now like running a marathon, writing a book, teaching a class, or beginning a ministry, habits can help, once established, to pull you along to the finish line.

By being intentional about how we use our time and go about each week, with little tweaks in the ways we go about our day we could: * Memorize favorite Bible passages, and even books of the Bible and even full books of the bible * Experience a more effective prayer life * Replace unhealthy habits with healthy habits that don't leave you feeling deprived. * Drop unwanted pounds and get in the best shape of your life * Have a plan and an answer to the inevitable question, "What's for Dinner?" * Read those great books you've been meaning to read.

Mini Habits and The Compound Effect Two books that have been instrumental in my life to help me make small changes that lead to big results are Mini Habits and The Compound Effect. Both books have helped me chunk down my goals and dreams into bite sized pieces that are totally doable and not overwhelming. Before I would of been overwhelmed by the magnitude of memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible or daily walking five miles. At the time I was only memorizing a verse or two or taking one mile walks. However, since I began implementing Mini Habits and reaping the blessings of their compound effect, I can relate to the lyrics of a song my daughter sings at school, "Little by Little". Little by little, inch by inch, by the yard it’s hard… by the inch it’s a cinch!

When you miniaturize a goal, forming a habit is much easier. While it is admirable to say, "I'm going to read ten pages of this book every day.' if you're not reading even one page a day, diving in with a commitment of ten pages a day may get old fast. You may read your ten pages the first three days. But on day four, you may find yourself on the sixth page thinking, I still have four more pages left! This is taking so long. Ugh!" With mini habits, the idea is to shrink a habit into something so ridiculously small that you would laugh at the idea of not doing it every day because it shrinks the daily target to something so doable.

So instead of a target of reading ten pages a day, make your target to read one page a day. While that may take you longer to reach your goal of reading that book, like the tortoise and the hare, you'll read more at one page of day, refusing to miss a day, than reading several pages, getting discouraged, and shelving the book out of frustration that the daily reading target is too much. 

What I've found is my trouble is often just getting started, Once I get going, I often want to exceed my target, because reading one page a day is no major time commitment. It ridiculously easy. But once I start reading my one page and i get to the bottom, I often want to know what comes next. Next thing I know, I've finished the chapter, and it didn't feel burdensome because my goal was just to read one page. The pages after that is a bonus!

This brilliant concept of Mini Habits can be applied to the improvement of so many areas of our life. If you want to memorize a passage, chapter, or book of the Bible your mini habit could simply be to read the passage aloud once through each day. If you wanted to memorize Philippians, for example, by day 50 you'll have become so familiar with the book, that when you do start trying to memorize the verses, you'll simply be filling in the blanks, and all because you simply read it aloud once a day for 50 days without fail.

If the concept of mini habits intrigues you, but you'd rather watch how to do something, than read about it, I highly recommend the online Udemy course, Mini Habit Mastery. I've gone though it and got a lot out of it. Sometimes the concepts in the video can be presented in a corny way, but they always have a point and actually make a concept easier to remember because was presented in a silly, and sometimes funny, way. I love this course because all you have to do is watch the videos at your own pace and apply the practical steps outlined throughout the course. Easy peasy!

The Compound Effect in Action Darren Hardy asks in his book, The Compound Effect, "If you were given a choice between taking $3 million in cash this very instant and a single penny that doubles in value every day for 31 days, which would you choose? If you’ve heard this before, you know the penny gambit is the choice you should make—you know it’s the course that will lead to greater wealth. Yet why is it so hard to believe choosing the penny will result in more money in the end? Because it takes so much longer to see the payoff. Let’s take a closer look.

Find out more about The Compound Effect

Let’s say you take the cold, hard cash and your friend goes the penny route. On Day Five, your friend has 16 cents. You, however, have $3 million. On Day 10, it’s $5.12 versus your big bucks. How do you think your friend is feeling about her decision? You’re spending your millions, enjoying the heck out of it, and loving your choice. After 20 full days, with only 11 days left, Penny Lane has only $5,243. How is she feeling about herself at this point? For all her sacrifice and positive behavior, she has barely more than $5,000. You, however, have $3 million.

Then the invisible magic of the Compound Effect starts to become visible. The same small mathematical growth improvement each day makes the compounded penny worth $10,737,418.24 on Day 31, more than three times your $3 million. In this example we see why consistency over time is so important. On Day 29, you’ve got your $3 million; Penny Lane has around $2.7 million. It isn’t until Day 30 of this 31-day race that she pulls ahead, with $5.3 million. And it isn’t until the very last day of this month long ultra-marathon that your friend blows you out of the water; she ends up with $10,737,418.24 to your $3 million"

The Compound Effect of Memorizing Scripture

Janet Pope, whose book, His Word in My Heart, inspired me to begin memorizing entire Psalms and other chapters of the Bible, is reaping the blessings of the compound effect. By committing to focus on memorizing just one verse a day, reading and reflecting on her verse of the day many times throughout her day, she has memorized 14 books of the Bible and 121 chapters! Just some of what she's memorized includes: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, Revelation, Esther, and Ruth!

In her radio interview with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Janet shares how you can memorize more than you think! (Click on the link to listen) Here is a little snippet of what she shares in the interview. "Many people are intimidated by the thought of memorizing a long passage because they do think that it’s going to be more time consuming or more difficult than memorizing scattered verses—a verse here and a verse there.

But I love to tell the story about this man in my church. One day he came up to me and said, “I just want you to know that I’m going to memorize the book of Philippians this year.” He said, “I’ve counted it. There are 104 verses, and there are 52 weeks in a year; that’s only two verses a week, and I think I can do that.” I thought, wow—I’d never counted it up. I never really did the math. So I thought, wow, how awesome! Now, if this man accomplished his goal, and I hope he did, he would be so motivated that the next year he’d say, “Well, I could do another book.”

And there are many books that are approximately the same number of verses. James has 105. 1 Peter has 105. Second Timothy has fewer. First Thessalonians has fewer. So at the same pace of two verses a week, you could have one book the first year, two books in two years. Five years, five books; ten years, ten books. Now, I’ve done 14 books in 17 years. So, see, some people might even say, “She’s a slacker.”

Two verses a week. It doesn’t seem possible, but you can get out your calculator and figure it out. So I like to share that illustration, because that’s not my method, but that was his. And if you break it down to two verses a week, anyone could do that. So it’s not more difficult."

Making Forming Good Habits and Breaking Bad Habits 
So Much Easier!

Atomic Habits, by James Clear has become a fast favorite of mine because of the way he simplifies the process of forming good habits and breaking bad habits. However you'd like to improve your life, this book has a wealth of wonderfully practical information that anyone can easily apply to reach one's dreams and goals. This book has a been a game-changer for me, giving me wonderful hacks to improve my habits, and as a result, improve my life. In addition to your daily time reading the Bible,  if you only have time to read one other book, Atomic Habits will prove itself well worth the read. 

What would reaching your goals and dreams through Mini Habits make possible for you?

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