“Eleven Daily Habits for ‘11”***
It’s a new year and with it comes new opportunities to do the things we want to do—and not do the things we don’t want to do, as Paul puts it. How many of us make resolutions over and over again only to fizzle out by March (or earlier)? How many of us have awesome plans in January to do more for God, train our children’s hearts more, and generally be more successful during the new year?
I used to make long, elaborate resolutions—complete with subpoints and sub-subpoints on how to achieve them! Even with all of that detail and thought, I still found myself floundering. Now I don’t make grandiose plans to be and to do every January. Instead, in January, and anytime I want to make a change, I take baby steps. Little, daily steps towards the goals I might have.
For example, instead of revamping the entire schedule, sure that next week I will start my day an hour earlier, exercise with the kids, put food in the crock pot every morning, read aloud for two hours before lunch, etc. etc., I do one of two things: (1) Start with the beginning of the day and change that according to what I think will make things run more smoothly—just one small change; or (2) Start with the most important change I want to make, and just do that item. Not long lists of dozens of improvements. Just one change; baby steps towards success. One change that I can implement today. One change only—until I have that one under control. Then, I’ve been successful already, so I know I can do another. Success breeds more success. Positive changes breed more positive changes.
Of course, I didn't come up with this idea on my own. (I am an "idea lifter"---lifting ideas from other people and using them for myself!) The idea of “one change at a time” actually originated with our mentors, Terry and Esa Everroad, over twenty-five years ago. (Boy, when I say things like "twenty years ago" and "twenty-five years ago," I feel reaaallllly old!) Terry told Ray to meet with me once a week and just listen. Ask me what was wrong, what I wanted changed, what I needed from him. Then, together, choose one thing--just one--that we would work on improving. When that was better, choose another, then another, then another. He told Ray to do this until one week he would ask me, and I would have nothing to say. Then, he told Ray, he could consider his own needs. Good selflessness advice for husbands, huh? (Well, for wives, too.)
And the same idea can be duplicated in any area of our lives that we really want to change--eating more healthfully, reading and growing spiritually, building stronger relationships. One change at a time. Baby steps. Then another, then another. Not life remodeling all at once. Just one goal at a time.
This approach is actually how we have developed every habit in our family that is good! (It’s also how bad habits are developed—we don’t realize it, but they come a little at a time too!) We didn’t just wake up one day and have our kids read a book a week, “speak to our kids’ hearts” more days than not, read about heroes of the faith with them week in and week out, have daily chores that keep our household running, have husband-wife meetings, eat evening meals together complete with deep discussions, etc. We did each one, one at a time, until we were successful with the one thing, then we added another.
To start out this new year, I want to give you “Eleven Daily Habits for 2011”--eleven things that I have found make my day run more smoothly, create the environment I want in my home, allow me to be involved in our publishing company and family ministry (two extremely fulfilling things for me), and cause me to have success in my homeschool. These are eleven things that I know help me and maybe they will help you, too. Now, there are one or two items that I have “fallen off the wagon on”—that I need to work on re-implenting myself (one at a time, of course)…but I won’t tell you which ones those are. J
I have found that it is the little things that make the difference. Spring cleaning is incredible...for a few days afterwards. However, making sure that the floors are swept, bathrooms are wiped down, and laundry is done every day is what makes me really sing. The big things will always be there--waiting to be done and waiting to be implemented, but the small things are what make each day better. The daily ins and outs. The habits that make us truly successful.
So…without further ado, I give you my Eleven Daily Habits* for success in ’11, not necessarily in any certain order. You can choose one (or come up with a different one) that will make tomorrow a better day for you and your family—and implement it, one baby step at a time, to reach your goals in your family.
“Sneak Preview” of the Eleven Daily Habits for ‘11
1. Rise with the Lord
2. Make a place for the Lord in your heart before retiring
3. Teach your kids God’s Word and the character of Christ
4. Tie heart strings
5. Get completely ready for day
6. Read aloud to your kids
7. Do most important chores first each day
8. Hug and kiss
9. Read for yourself each day
10. Exercise a little
11. Do a little bit of a big project
Stay tuned for the next eleven days as I elaborate on why these habits are important to me.
***Parts of this article were written in 2008 under the title “Eight Daily Habits for ’08” and published in Training for Triumph’s homeschooling newsletter.