Creating Daily Habits Over Making Yearly Resolutions

By Jack Raymond

It is a new year, and for many of us, that means it is time to make resolutions. Eat better. Read more. Lose weight. Start a new hobby. All of these are great things, but there is one giant problem. It is hard to stay motivated 365 days for the same goal. That is why so many resolutions die by the end of January. In fact, most researchers state that less than 10 percent of resolutions are achieved during the year (some say as low as eight percent).

So, the question is how do we fix that problem? I believe that the answer to our question is to start building healthy habits every day, instead of trying to achieve resolutions potentially a year away.

Just a brief confession: I always set New Year’s resolutions, and I often fit the stereotype of “fired up and driven” in January, and then “back to normal” by February. However, I recently discovered the power of habits when meeting with one of my ministry mentors. He encouraged me to set five daily habits to grow spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, physically and relationally.

What I have learned about habits has been immensely valuable to me, and I want to share a few insights that I hope and pray will be helpful for you.

  1. Habits Make Your Goals Realistic and Achievable

Now, I am not saying that you should throw your resolutions in the trash. After all, you may be among the 10 percent of the population who achieve their resolutions. But if you are like me, then you need help keeping your goals in front of you every single day.

Let’s use an example. Let’s say that you wanted to read 20 books in a year. What often happens is that you read two books in the first two weeks, and then life gets busy. The goal is forgotten. And ultimately it dies.

But if you make a habit of reading just 15 pages a day, you will read 105 pages a week, and around 450 pages a month—nearly 5,500 pages a year. Unless you are reading an encyclopedia, that habit will make you crush your goal of 20 books in a year. And 15 pages a day sounds doable and manageable.

The same formula can be used for just about any goal. Having a daily quiet time. Doing acts of service for your spouse. Running a marathon. Memorizing a passage of Scripture. Learning a new skill. Take your goals and break them down into daily and achievable habits. Before long, you will be crushing your goals!

  1. Habits Give You Momentum

It’s always the first step that is most difficult, especially when change is involved. That’s why we all know the popular proverb, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Once you have taken that first step, though, each one gets slightly easier. When it comes to habits, the first couple of days with the new habit can be difficult. Yet, as each day passes, the momentum builds. That habit begins to grow stronger as the action becomes second nature, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

When talking with my wife about habits, she reminded me of the story of Daniel. The enemies of Daniel knew that he prayed to God three times a day, so they tricked the king into making prayer illegal (Daniel 6:6–9). But Daniel’s habit for prayer was too strong to be broken.Read what happens next in Daniel 6:10:

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

“… as he had done previously.” Daniel had made a habit of prayer that could not be broken by anything that happened to him or around him.

We all need momentum in our daily habits because consistency and momentum give our habits power.

  1. New Habits Can Help Break Old Habits

In some cases, we need to create new habits because we need to break bad habits. Habits can be powerful forces for good, but they can also be powerful forces for the opposite.

Let’s be honest; there are some sinful habits that we need to break in 2020. Maybe it’s the habit of self-promotion on social media or in person. Or it’s the habit of scrolling through our phone instead of spending time with our families. Or perhaps the habit is even darker and has grown into a dangerous addiction. If that is the case, then seek help first from God and then also from others (read point #4).

John writes about the danger of sinful habits in 1 John 3. In verses 4–6, John writes:

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

Only Jesus can empower us to break old sinful habits and to build new holy habits.

That is why we must obey God’s Word, and abide daily in Jesus, for “no one who abides in him keeps on sinning.”

  1. Let Your Good Habits Lead to Greater Accountability

My final encouragement to you is to share your new habits with close brothers and sisters in Christ. We were never meant to do life alone. Share your habits with others and spur them to create habits that will make them more like Christ.

Habits are the strongest when they are made and practiced in Christian community.

Let us create habits in 2020 that will help us grow closer to Jesus and make a greater impact for His kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

Jack Raymond serves as Pastoral Ministry Associate at Prestonwood Baptist Church. Follow Jack on Twitter @jackdraymond1.

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