Have you ever wanted to develop a habit? A good habit? A habit that would finally help you reach that goal or that dream? Have you ever tried to form a new habit?
I’m in the process of establishing a new habit for running. And there’s a reason and goal for it this year. I’ve been running on and off since the mid 90s. It’s not my favorite sport, and I don’t always enjoy it, but that’s what has worked for me all these years. I don’t need any complicated or too expensive gear. Although you could spend a lot of money on it, too, if you wanted to go all out and get the latest gadgets and the latest scientifically developed clothing and shoes…
There have been a few reasons why I picked running in the first place. When I first started with running, it was to get some time to myself early in the morning, before the kids were up and the rush of the day would consume me. Those 30-40 minutes became very precious to me. And since I’m not a morning person, it was a good way to wake up and prepare myself for the loud voices of my kids!
Then I realized that I was losing weight. What a great benefit to add to it! But mostly I ran for the great feeling afterwards, after I was done. I pushed myself pretty hard during the run so that I was already spent before the day even began. I found that I was a lot calmer during the crazy morning routine of getting three kids ready for school and daycare and getting us all out the door so that I would not be late for work.
Even the 45 minute drive to work on those German autobahns at 120-160 km/h would not faze me. My whole day went better on days I did run.
Why am I bringing all this up? It’s one thing to run for leisure and whole other thing to have a purpose or to have a goal in mind. The latter requires discipline, it requires me to develop a habit and see it through to the finish line.
Now, how do I do that? There are many theories out there about how long it takes to develop a habit or to break a bad habit for good. One that I found very interesting was called:
Don’t break the chain!
The way it works is you mark on a calendar each day you completed the task that you’re forming your habit in. Make sure the calendar is visible to you throughout the day. Each mark on the calendar represents a chain-link. You go day by day establishing this chain, and you tell yourself everyday: Don’t break the chain! Don’t break the chain!
What happens if you do break the chain? You pick yourself up again and start a new chain. Some days might be easier than others, but I found this way of establishing a habit rather encouraging.
I do have to tell you though, that I don’t always succeed. Some days I am only able to put that mark on the calendar because I prayed myself through that run. Those marks mean a lot more to me because they were fought for.
Yesterday morning, in my time with God, I read these words from Hebrews 12:
“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down,
especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” (emphasis mine)
Of course, these words refer to our life being a race that is so much more important than just the early morning run. Let’s run with purpose, keeping our eyes on Jesus!
Are you trying to establish new habits in your life? Remember: Don’t break the chain!