Habits Pay Off

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
(James Clear, in Atomic Habits)

If you are trying to build your savings, compound interest is your friend.

If you are trying to reach a goal or simply grow in grace, habits are your friends.

When you think about eating an elephant one bite at a time, habits are a great illustration of “one bite” a day. If you do one thing every day (or every weekday), how much would be accomplished in a month? Or a year? It takes time to build those habits, but the investment pays off immensely in the future.

  • Reading the entire Bible is something many people do every year, but it is done a bit at a time with a reading plan.
  • Decluttering your home may seem overwhelming, but a drawer a week or a room a month makes it happen.

“You get what you repeat.”
(James Clear, in Atomic Habits)

If you want to do something more (like exercise or read), doing that thing 10 minutes a day will add up. After a few months, you will indeed have done something more.

  • Exercising often will increase your health.
  • Reading regularly will make you a reader.
  • A little bit of study every day will allow you to learn.
  • One meal with guests a month, or a quarter, will open up your home and make hospitality what you do.

With repeated small steps, a big change becomes possible.

Fair Winds

“The only people who achieve much
are those who want knowledge so badly
that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable.
Favorable conditions never come.” (C.S. Lewis)

Are you waiting for the perfect day to start a good habit?

Is it never the right year to address weaknesses you know you have?

Do you plan to love your neighbor next season, when you have more time?

Is your rainy day project list more fit for the tropical rainforest?

Anything worth doing or having is worth making an effort. If we are waiting for something hard to become easy, we are fooling ourselves. We will need to work for it.

There are times that are not appropriate for attempting new things or hard things, but be sure that today is truly that time. Sometimes wisdom requires scaling back or focusing on the basics for a while. That is true at times, BUT other times we need to be careful that we are not using an excuse and calling it wisdom.

If you know that you need to do it and know that it needs to be done now, I encourage you:

  • Plan what you are doing. Know your goal. Is is clear, measurable, and realistic?
  • Plan how you will do it. What exactly will it take? Map out the steps of the habit or the schedule of tasks or deadlines. Writing it down helps make it real.
  • Get the help you may need. Ask and receive. We need each other, so ask for help from friends. Tools are effective, so decide if you need some and then get them.
  • Take a deep breath and dig in. You’ve done the preparation. Now is the time to just start doing what you know you should. Put one foot in front of the other and keep walking.

The good news is — it will be worth it!

* C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (San Francisco: Harper-One, 2001), 60