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We all have habits, don’t we?

Some good.

Some bad.

Most we don’t even realize we have.

I have a confession for you. I’m a sucker for Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked ice-cream. The fro-yo edition, not the real ice cream (I’m watching my figure, mind you). Now I’m not embarrassed that I love this delicious concoction. I’m ashamed to say I’ve made eating ice cream a semi-daily habit.

It’s as if my taste buds are in need of – no, demand the taste of those fattening sweets after a good healthy dinner. Something to cleanse the pallet. It’s a dirty little habit.

Another dirty little habit I have is waking up in the morning and immediately scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. The blue light of my phone sends a shot of endorphins to my brain. A brief moment of sensation that amounts to a useless amount of time.

Why is it so easy to repeat the bad habits and so hard to form the good ones?

Scripture

What's Scripture Say?

24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

{1 Corinthians 9:25-27 The Message (MSG)}

“Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.”

Paul doesn’t undermine the fact that “running to win” takes a lot of work. “All good athletes train hard,” he says. It’s as if he’s telling us that to become good at something it takes us working on it.  

We need healthy habits.

Here’s the other exciting thing about this passage: While it does take a lot of work to win the race, our identity isn’t in the prize but in the training. That’s the first lesson we learn about creating healthy habits.

“Outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.” – James Clear

Application

Practical Steps

I love the following example Jame Clear uses in his best-selling book, Atomic Habits:

Imagine two people resisting a cigarette. When offered a smoke, the first person says, “No thanks. I’m trying to quit.” It sounds like a reasonable response, but this person still believes they are a smoker who is trying to be something else. They are hoping their behavior will change while carrying around the same beliefs.

The second person declines by saying, “No thanks. I’m not a smoker.” It’s a small difference, but this statement signals a shift in identity. Smoking was part of their former life, not their current one. They no longer identify as someone who smokes.

Your habits are tied to your identity. It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior. You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are. Or maybe, better yet, you haven’t allowed room for God to change who you are.

So, how can you begin the process of changing who you are?

  1. First, spend time communicating with God. Read scripture on who God has called you to be. Decide how you want to honor God in your actions. What type of person do you really want to be?
  2. Take small steps to achieve that. Don’t get caught up in the end prize. Focus on the training. Focus on the journey.

Let’s say you want to read scripture on a daily basis. Don’t make the goal to read an entire book of the Bible. In fact, don’t make the intention to read a whole chapter. Start with one verse a day.

Then build up from there.

You didn’t learn to walk out of the womb. You first learned to lay there. Then to crawl. Then to walk. And then to run.

Benediction

Today, may you learn how to start small. That your habits are tied directly to what you believe about yourself, and that God believes in who you are right now–and who are going to become.

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Chris Pochiba

Author Chris Pochiba

Chris Pochiba is an accidental entrepreneur. With over 10 years in the marketing/visual arts world, Chris partners with amazing organizations to create meaningful art that impacts the world.

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