You know that your daily habits are what lead you to a successful life. Intellectually, you understand that the things you do each and every day will produce certain results in your life. However, creating those daily habits that usher us into the life we want to live is much easier said than done.
“Tomorrow I’ll start working out regularly.”
“When the kids are a little older I’ll have more time to establish a daily quiet time with God.”
“Once I get a new job I’ll be able to find the motivation to read more books.”
And on and on our list of reasons and delays continue. Until one day we find ourselves living a life of lame excuses instead of intentionally pursuing the life we want to live.
We’re going to stop all that right here. There is no better time than the present and no better day than today. We’re going to quit with the excuses and decide that today is all that we are promised, so we will begin today to live the life we want to live. We will stop the excuses and start making better choices. We will choose a new habit and work at it diligently each and every day until it becomes a part of who we are.
If you’re new here. Hi, I’m Tracy. I have been running at least one mile each day, every single day, for the past two years. Two years ago I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me that my rash decision to run every day would last more than a couple weeks. But now, running every day has become so much a part of my life that it is as normal to me as brushing my teeth and eating and showering each day. It’s just who I am. It’s what I do.
There is never a question about if I will run each day. That is such a freeing feeling. I don’t have to wrestle with my excuses or doubts or laziness, I just run. The only questions are when, where, and how long. Those are much easier to decide, trust me.
Developing the habit of running every day was not easy. It took a lot of work, a lot of sacrifices, and a lot of perseverance when I just did not want to. And it still, two years later, takes a lot of work, a lot of sacrifices, and a lot of perseverance when I just do not want to. But every single moment has been worth it. Your habits really do create who you are. And I love who I have become.
So what about you? What habit could you begin to implement into your life that could change who you are? What small thing could you begin doing each day that will lead you to the results you want in life?
My Challenge to You.
I have a challenge for you. Beginning, Monday, May 29th, 2017 (Memorial Day in the U.S.A.) we are going to begin a streak challenge. Memorial Day is where my journey began two years ago. I set out to run at least one mile each day from Memorial Day to the 4th of July, and I just never felt like stopping.
So, that is what we are going to do again this year. From Memorial Day to the 4th of July you will do one small thing each and every day for all 37 days. You won’t allow excuses. You won’t let busyness or stress or laziness get in your way. You will do your one thing every day, no matter what.
Step 1 – Pick Your One Thing
Your one thing can be whatever you want. It does not have to be running. If you are not a runner, hate running, or can’t run, this challenge is still for you. I run because that is what I want to do with my life. But this is your life, you get to choose what habit will make the best impact on your individual life.
Here are some of my thoughts and guidelines on your one thing –
- Make it small – you’re going to do this thing every day, no matter what, so be sure to set yourself up for success. Running a mile takes me approximately ten minutes. Even on my busiest days, I can find ten minutes. So something that takes you around 5-15 minutes to do is probably the size we are looking for. And remember, even if you are sick or your schedule is packed or a crisis happens, you will still be committed to doing this thing, so make this a manageable task. (I’ve run while sick, while traveling, and the day my dad died, so when I say no excuses, I pretty much mean you get zero excuses.)
- Make it specific – one time I told myself that I would do “some strength training” every day. And then I would do a 30-second plank and call it good. Um, that wasn’t quite what I meant, but I was able to weasel myself out of my own commitment because I wasn’t specific enough. Whatever you decide, make sure to make it specific enough that you don’t have room to weasel yourself out with a half-hearted attempt.
- Make it measurable – this goes along with making it specific, you also want a quantifiable limit to it. “Go for a walk” could mean you walked to your mailbox and back. Be sure to add either a time limit, a length, or a number of repetitions. Basically, you want to make your habit something that if you were in a court of law, everyone could agree if you either did it or did not do it. Be very clear.
- Make it relevant to your life and your overall goals – I could create the habit that “I’m going to listen to rock music for ten minutes a day.” But listening to rock music doesn’t lead me any closer to any of my goals in any area of my life. Think about the specific goals you have for your current season of life. What habit could you implement that would have the most impact on your ability to reach your current goals? That’s the one you want to use. Just because someone else is pursuing a specific habit, doesn’t mean that their specific habit is the best one for you to pursue.
- Make it active – this is a challenge to create a new positive habit, not remove a bad habit. While it is great to remove bad habits, that is not our goal here. We are looking to select one thing that we want to actively start doing each day, not removing from our lives. (Active does not mean physically active, it just means you have to do something instead of stop doing something.)
- You only get ONE THING – this is very important. While you might feel super motivated as you are brainstorming ideas and you might want to start implementing several new habits for this challenge, I urge you to pick only one. Do not try to overhaul your entire life in the next 37 days. Pick one small thing and stick with that one thing until it is ingrained in your daily routines. Then you can pick another one. (Since my run streak is already well established I will be choosing a new one thing to add for this challenge, so I’ll be running and doing my new thing. If you have an established habit, don’t drop it, but you can pick one new thing.)
Here are just a few ideas and examples I came up with if you’re feeling stuck on your one thing. The sky is the limit and this is your adventure, so just use this list to spark ideas.
- Run at least one mile every day.
- Do some other form of exercise every day for X number of minutes/length.
- Do X number of pushups, squats, lunges, etc every day.
- Drink X ounces of water each day.
- Go to the gym and workout for X number of minutes each day.
- Read for X number of minutes or X number of pages each day.
- Write for X number of minutes or X number of words each day. –This is my new one thing. 🙂
- Spend X number of minutes learning something new (new language, a new skill, new hobby).
- Work on a puzzle, crossword, or other brain-challenging activity for X number of minutes a day.
- Pray for X number of minutes or X number of times each day.
- Read X number of verses/chapters of the Bible each day.
- Write out a scripture verse each day. (Here’s a good list if you need suggestions.)
- Write down X number of things you are grateful for each day.
- Spend X number of minutes kissing, hugging, or snuggling your mate each day.
- Play with your kids for X number of minutes each day.
- Write an encouraging note/text/email to a friend every day.
Step 2 – Commit and Join the Streak Challenge.
Write down your one thing and commit yourself to doing it every single day for 37 days, no excuses. You might feel scared, you might start instantly sweating, you might start panicking, and your brain will likely begin to flood with reasons why you can’t. Feel all of those feelings, let all those thoughts flow through you, and then tell yourself that you can and you will. Read this post and this post and this post if you need help changing your thoughts to positive ones.
This is a challenge we are doing together. There is power in community. I’ve been where you are and I know what it takes to get to the other side. Each day I’m going to send you an email with a daily lesson of encouragement, inspiration, and positivity to help you stay in the right mindset to succeed at this thing. I promise you that the hardest part is not your schedule, or your kids, or your body, the hardest part will be your mindset. You’ll get a daily email in the morning to remind and inspire you. Read it, and then go do your one thing.
Are you ready? Sign up here –
Step 3 – Grab Your Friends.
Accountability is one of the most important factors for creating a new habit that sticks. I’ll be sending you a daily email to help keep you accountable. I will be your cheerleader and encourager. But you need more than just me on your team. Tell your friend. Tell your spouse. Tell your kids. Tell your coworkers. Let the world know what you are trying to do.
It will feel scary. You’ll worry about the embarrassment of failure, but here’s the thing – we won’t have failures in this challenge. And I’ll tell you more about why you can’t fail in one of the emails I send during the challenge. So stop worrying about other people and tell them about it. (Use the hashtag #WMBstreakchallenge on social media so that we can all cheer each other along.)
Then invite your people to join you. Pick the same habit or pick a different habit. It doesn’t matter. But you want someone struggling and persevering right along with you. That has been one of the most motivating things for me. Knowing I had friends doing this with me that I did not want to let down. Share this post with your friends and encourage them to sign up and commit right along with you.
Step 4 – Day 1 Starts on Memorial Day.
Be ready and take things one day at a time.
P.S. – My post from yesterday about 5 Lessons I’ve Learned About Self-Discipline From Running Every Day for 2 Years might be really helpful to read while you wait.