So by now, about 35% of us have given up on the goals or resolutions we made at the start of the New Year. Maybe you’re one of them. Or, maybe you haven’t set any goals yet. But if you’re reading this, I bet you’re the kind of person who wants to make, and follow through on, plans that make a difference for the Kingdom, people you love, and… yes, you. In this post, I’m going to share two super-simple ways to make it happen.
Strategy #1: Forget The Master Plan; Just Identify The Next Step
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by one of your dreams? You know where you want to go, but the million steps to get there make starting seem worthless. So you don’t.
That’s how I felt about renovating our bathroom. My wife had been pointing out that our shower was beyond all hope of repair. Knowing that one thing could lead to another, I feared the endless list of other things that would crop up if I tackled it. Things I had never done before and would consume my time. So, I adopted the role of ostrich and… [drum roll, please] did nothing, hoping for the best.
Truth is, so many times things beyond our control change and we need to revise our plans anyway. This constant change, I believe, is one of the ways God invites us to actually ‘trust in the Lord with all our heart, and… not lean on our own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5).
So instead of mapping out your entire goal, just identify the next small thing. And maybe a step or two further. If your goal is to lose 25 pounds in the next 6 months, start by finding 2 gyms in your area. If you want to spend 15 minutes in prayer and bible reading each day, just begin by choosing the best time. Then build from there.
Let’s apply this… right now. Before you keep reading. Choose (or create) one goal and identify the next, small step. That’s it. Success!
Strategy #2: Mini-Habits
Think of this second strategy as an incredibly small, almost microscopic, ‘next step’ you take every day. In Strategy #1, you identify a goal and then take small steps toward it. But, the steps are different from each other; you’re not repeating the same step each day. And, you may not be taking a next step each day.
Mini-habits are different. (Credit to Stephen Guise and his book Mini-Habits for the idea). In this case, we identify a habit we want to build into our lives consistently and then ‘minify’ it, making it so small we can do it even on our worst days. It should be so small it’s laughable.
As an example, one of my ministry goals for the year is to double (versus last year) the number of one-on-one discipleship/mentoring times I have with our local guys in healthcare. To get there, my mini-habit is to email one guy every work day until I’ve reached my goal.
Other examples of mini-habits could be doing (every day) one push-up, throwing one thing out in a cluttered house, or, writing 50 words for your blog or book. (Don’t take on more than 2-4 at a time). If you complete your mini-habit, you consider yourself successful for the day.
You’re probably thinking, ‘What difference can one email or push-up make?’ Fair enough. I don’t have the space to get into the bigger picture and brain research here (see Guise’s book; it’s only 127 pages), but you’ll often find yourself doing ‘bonus reps’, far more than the crazy small mini-habit you’ve setup. You’ll be encouraged by your progress and want to keep going.
Let’s pause again. Brainstorm a quick list of 3-5 habits you’d like to build into your life. Pick one, ‘minify’ it, and start today.
So, there you go, two strategies for making progress toward your goals or New Year’s resolutions. Just identify the next, small step and do it. Setup a mini-habit and do it every day. I know there’s a lot more to say on this topic, but my goal has been to give you some tools that will help you get in motion and feel the encouragement that comes with making consistent progress. With God’s help, we can!
What one next step or mini-habit do you plan on taking? Share it in the comments below!