Exercising Our Will “Muscle” Part 2: 10 Steps to Lasting Change

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All of us struggle in changing habits. We often fail because it takes consistent and hard discipline. But the good news is you can learn to train yourself, and even come to enjoy your new routine!

Here are the first 5 of 10 steps to help you make those lasting changes.

1. Determine your reason

Since change is not easy we need strong motivation. In order for me to make a major change I have to be desperate. Unless you passionately want to change—you won’t!

Think about why you want to make that change.

Our why has to be strong, clear, bigger than us, and outside of us.

So why do you want to change? Think it through. Be sure to include your motives. Ask questions like:

  • How important is it to me, others, and God to change this behavior?
  • What are the benefits? What will I gain?
  • What are the consequences of not changing?

Would it be detrimental to my health, finances, relationships including with God? What will I lose?

  • Will this change glorify God?
  • Is this a change God wants me to make—and now?

Our reason must have an emotional component to it. One strong enough to fight against our tendencies—at least I do. Logic alone that it’s unhealthy to eat that dessert is insufficient in helping me resist. But recalling the negative effects that diabetes had on my mother’s life does—at least most of the time.

If we want victory:

Our desire to change has to be stronger than our desire to stay the same.

2. Make a commitment ahead of time and keep it before you

I remember as a teenybopper making a vow to never get fat. That commitment has helped me to maintain a healthy weight. I don’t always eat right, but remembering the poor quality and shortened life of my mom keeps me from straying too far.

So go before the Lord and prayerfully commit to what you know the Lord has convicted you of. Keep that commitment in front of you. Repeat and reaffirm it often, especially when you’re tempted.

We often give into temptation because the results of our actions are not immediate—like it is when we touch a hot stove.  We need to focus on the long term, rather than on our immediate pleasure, or avoidance of pain.

3. Evaluate the cost of changing

It’s beneficial to know in advance the obstacles and pain you may encounter, so you’ll be less likely to cave in. Face the fact that you are going to feel hungry at times when you’re on a diet. The question then becomes, “Will the cost be worth it?”

If we could figure out how to increase our enjoyment or lessen the pain, it’ll go a long way in helping us make right choices.

The pain of remaining the same has to be greater than the pain of changing.

Put the other way:

The pleasure of changing has to be greater than the pleasure of remaining the same.

4. Make sure your goal is right

Confirm that your change is in line with what God wants for you, not what you or others alone desire. God needs to be part of the equation. I want to stay healthy not only to prevent diabetes or look and feel good, but also to have energy to serve my Lord. If He’s not in the picture the desire to change could actually become an idol!

5. Start small

Don’t set yourself up for failure with too large a goal. For example: Don’t say you’ll read 3 Bible chapters daily, if your habit has been erratic in just reading one! Pick a goal you can stick with—consistently. 

Next time I’ll cover 5 more steps.

Until then work on getting a strong why.