How To Make Serious Progress (Relatively) Quickly

So, you’re stuck?  You know you need to make serious progress in some critical area of your life, but don’t know where to start.  Or, start again. In this post, I share a tip that’s helped me make tremendous progress in an area I had (without even knowing it) given up.

african pygmy hedgehog

Adam Foster via Compfight

Yeah, that’s a picture of me a few months ago.  I had a really strained relationship with one of my daughters.  We weren’t talking much, and when we did, it seemed like things went south faster than… well, you get it.

My wife kept nudging me.  ‘You know, you really ought to see a counselor about this.’

‘OK, I’ll think about it.’  I wasn’t really open to it, though.

But after another particularly difficult season, I decided to give it a shot.  Just a few months later, I’m so glad I finally did.  What I learned will help you, too.

A Simple, Powerful Insight

In a nutshell, the counselor helped me see that I was focusing in the wrong place.  I was trying to get my daughter to change (not in my control) and not (really) working on myself (in my control).

So, at the end of that first session, the counselor gave me a little assignment that’s changing my life.  This area of it, anyway.

He told me to review, and pray through, my notes from our session for a few minutes every day.  No matter what.  Without fail.

Honestly, it seemed too simple.  I had, after all, prayed for months.  Talked to friends, looking for insight.  Turned it around in my head.

‘OK, but what do I do when she…?’  And, ‘what if…?’  His strategy didn’t seem to cover all the bases.

‘Don’t worry about all the details’, he pushed back.  ‘The key is to show up every day.  God will honor your small efforts over time and you’ll make progress.’

I did.  And you can, too.

Let’s Make This Practical

OK, let’s make this practical.  How do you actually do this?  You’ll have to tweak and adjust for your own situation, but this is a good template.

  1. You’ve got to be ready to change.  You can’t just go through the motions; you’ve got want this, even if it’s not wholeheartedly yet.
  2. You need a simple, key insight.  For me, it was this idea that I had to stop trying to control my daughter and start doing what I could do – forgive her and take small steps to love her.  You don’t need a counselor.  The insight could come from a friend, a book, your time with God in prayer… nearly anywhere.
  3. Record your insight somewhere.  Recording it makes your intentions official and saves you from having to remember every day.  I use a Google document so I can access it anywhere through my phone.
  4. Review your insight and pray through it each day.  This is the key step where you ask God to take your insight and make it real in your life.  In my experience, you can make significant progress in just 5-10 minutes each day.
  5. As God reveals more to you, review and pray through that, too.  As you engage the process, God usually adds to what he initially showed you.  Don’t feel like you have to pray through everything every day.  Just do what you can handle.
  6. Bonus tip: set a reminder.  Don’t rely on your memory, especially as you begin.  I setup an entry on my Google calendar and a text ‘reminder’ so it shows up on my phone daily, but you could just as easily, for example, put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror.

It Makes Sense

Although the bible never obligates us to approach change like this, it does make biblical sense.  He says, ‘You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13).  And, in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a story about an old widow seeking justice to teach us that we ‘ought always to pray and not lose heart’ even if the answer is slow in coming.  God rewards our efforts when we show up consistently.

I’m still working on my relationship with my daughter, but many of our negative interactions are gone and I am changing at a deep level.  God can do the same thing in your life as you rely on him deeply in small, consistent ways.

So, where are you most stuck in your life?  Pick one area and commit to beginning this process within the next few days. I’d love to hear more about it in the comments section below.