This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monthly checkup, and a progress report

It’s been a busy week, so I didn’t get my end of the month checkup on goals written last week. So here it is, a bit late.

We’re far enough into the year that if you haven’t been working consistently on your New Year’s resolutions (if you made any), you’ve probably either given up on them, not made any progress on them, or forgotten them. That’s OK, but if you want things to improve in your life, you need long term goals and some kind of plan to reach them.

For those of you who were reading in December when I wrote up my suggestions for resolutions, this will be familiar ground. For those of you who weren’t, here are three very specific suggestions for dealing with your long term plans.

First, write them down, ideally every day, but at the very least review them daily. More on this at the end of the post

Second, find a small step you can take daily (i.e. a habit you can create) that will help you move toward the fulfillment of each of your goals. It takes three weeks to develop a habit; give yourself a month, then reassess to see if the habit is established, and if so,  if it’s helping you toward your goal and if you want to add a new one this month.

Third, share the goals with someone who can hold you accountable for your progress.

If you’ve been doing this, have you seen any progress? My bet is you have. What additional steps can you take this month to improve?

A personal report: I have been writing down my goals and intermediate steps to reach them daily, pretty consistently since January 1. Some of them have involved breaking habits that have been in place literally for years. Within about two weeks (less than what it normally takes to develop a habit!), the habit was gone, and I haven’t relapsed since.

The only thing I did differently was write my goals out each day, focusing on the positive outcome I wanted and not the negative action I wanted to lose.

I’m a skeptic when it comes to techniques; I’ve tried too many things to believe in magic bullets. And it’s possible that there are other explanations for the change. But this seems to be working well for me, whatever the reason, and I see no good reason to risk stopping.

The takeaway is that if you’re having problems reaching goals or breaking habits, try writing out the positive outcome you are looking for daily. I also included what I saw as a necessary step to achieving the long-term goal. This only takes two or three minutes at most total for all of my four big goals. Try it for a month and see if it doesn’t help you move forward.