You have probably set some New Years resolutions. Or maybe you just set a new goal for yourself. Perhaps, you would like to see a change in your life, or a relationship, or your job, or something. One very powerful way to make those changes is to develop some new habits. A habit is something you do without thinking about it. We all have habits—brushing your teeth in the morning, making your morning coffee, changing your underwear, driving to work. These are things we do our of habit. I don’t think about the exit I take for work. Often I have been heading downtown, not going to work, but my mind get’s distracted and I end up on autopilot. Many of the habits we have a re good and productive—some are not. Things like habitually overeating, using profanity, picking your nose, not washing your hands after using the bathroom are all examples of bad habits.
Regardless whether the habits you have are good or bad, they all have the same pattern. According to Stanford Professor, BJ Fogg, for every habit there is a trigger, the action, and a benefit. The “Trigger” is what prompts the action. The ring of your phone is a trigger, the buzz of your alarm clock is a trigger, the bark of your dog in the morning is a trigger. These are the things that “trigger” your habit. The actual habit is an action. It is something you do, whether it is exercise, over eating or picking your nose. It is concrete and often occurs with little or no thought. The “benefit” is the intangible or tangible results of your action—usually good. While the habit of overeating may be a bad habit—actually overeating may be quite enjoyable. The same holds true with eating the wrong things. Most people don’t have problems eating too many peas or too much spinach; cake on the other hand tends to present a problem for some. Good or bad in the long run does not impact the immediate “benefit”.
So how about using your habit system to meet your new resolutions or goals? Start small. Find an easy reminder and make the conscious choice to make one small change. Maybe you want more time to read your Bible. Maybe you could set an alarm on your phone, or pack a small bible with your lunch, or place your bible on your pillow in the morning as a reminder before bed. If you want to exercise more, set out your exercise clothes. To eat healthier, replace one unhealthy grocery item each shopping trip with something healthy that you would eat.
Proverbs 22:6 say, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” In the same way we train children, we should train ourselves. This is just like what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. To be more like Christ, we will have to train ourselves. Forming new habits is a great way to start.