- Melinda K. Bowens
What happens when you want to keep the bad habit?!
So, it’s that time of year again!!! No, I don’t mean the holiday season, I mean the “New Year, New Me” season. The time where we start evaluating the past 12 months and start setting new goals for ourselves. Now, I am all for setting goals and changing things up, but every time I hear that phrase my mind just starts to wander (well, my mind wanders and wonders a lot, but that’s not the important part this time). I start thinking, exactly how new do we really want to be???
And here’s why I ask that question (at least to myself). More often than not when I set a new goal, I don’t really want to do anything different, I just want new and better outcomes (just being honest). And if I’m totally honest, I would be rather indifferent to actual growth if I could get what I wanted and still stay the same. Because change takes real work, ya know?! And I’m naturally inclined to choose a Snapped marathon and ice cream over optional work any day (don’t tell me boss I said that).
I’ll use one of my favorite bad habits (is favorite bad habit an oxymoron??) as an example: my poor time management. I have said for years that if I could just get my planning and time management together, I could tackle anything! For the most part, that’s probably a really true statement. But, what I really mean is, I want to accomplish all the big dreams in my head and heart without changing my schedule or inconveniencing myself in any way.
Now, looking at that statement typed out in my face, I understand that it makes no sense. How can I want good changes in my life but hold on to bad habits so tightly? And quietly, that’s a question most of us need to ask ourselves. What is it that we like so much about these bad habits that we’re willing to risk our greatest dreams for them???
If you shook your head at me and said there’s nothing “good” about those bad habits, let’s challenge that for a minute (if you already agreed, keep reading with me too).
We usually only keep doing things if there is some level of benefit to us. It might not be the greatest benefit, but it’s some type of benefit. Here’s what I mean by that:
We go to the same places knowing that we’re uncomfortable and uneasy, but decide it’s better than sitting at home another night.
We continue to talk to the same guy/girl (that doesn’t really care about us), but settle in ourselves that it’s better than the reality of having no one.
We gather our friends to talk about all the things other people are doing wrong (*cough cough* gossip), because deep down it’s safer than putting ourselves out there to be the change.
And personally, I don’t honestly pursue better time management because it gives me a cushion if I mess up. Because it’s one thing to be ill prepared, it’s another to generally fail and fall flat on my face.
So, if you’re still with me, we can get a game plan together! If you’re cussing at me in your mind, that’s cool too! I teach, so I’m sure it happens all the time! Either way, keep reading with me!
Take a few minutes and be hardcore honest with yourself!
What are those bad habits in your life that have a “benefit”?
Write down all the things that come to mind and heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalms 139: 23-24, NLT
What do those habits cost you?
After you identify what those habits are, be honest about what each of them cost you. For most of us, those habits cost us our peace, our confidence and often our intimacy with God.
You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. James 4:4, MSG
Are those habits worth your future?
Make a list of your wildest, loftiest dreams and goals. If you look at where you and what you’re currently doing, ask yourself if those questionable habits are worth losing those dreams and goals forever. If the answer is yes, cool. But if you’re answer is no (and I truly hope your answer is no), we have one more step to go!
God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3: 20, MSG
What’s your plan of action?
Decide to make one change that can shift your habits. Trying to make all the changes at once will most likely leave you overwhelmed and make those old habits look quite appealing. Start with one thing.
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3, NLT