How to make a habit stick

Foolproof: make a habit stick
How to make a habit stick

We all have habits. We have good habits, bad habits and neutral habits. Bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to stick with. Often we commit to a new habit and find ourselves abandoning the effort after a short time. I have found a technique to stick with a new habit that really works. I call it piggybacking habits. Simply put, I associate the new habit I want to establish with an old habit already ingrained in my routine. It works without much effort and it lasts.

Proverbs 18:9, “Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism.” MSG

EXERCISE

Unfortunately, I am not able to exercise at all because of myasthenia gravis. I miss it dearly. Before I was diagnosed I was in exceptionally good shape. However, until about four years ago I rarely exercised. I could not seem to find the motivation, energy or time. Can anybody relate? In the evening I was tired and wanted to just sit and read a book. So I made a deal with myself; I chose a page-turning suspense novel, by Ted Dekker I think, and did not allow myself to read a single page unless I was on my stationary bicycle. I read for twenty minutes a day, pedaling without even noticing the effort. I did not want to exercise, but I was excited to see what happened in the next chapter of the thriller. Within a short period of time, I had a new habit and a new passion for cycling. Eventually, I bought a road bicycle and rode about five thousand miles before my muscles suddenly quit talking to my nerves. If you don’t like to read, maybe you have a favorite TV show. Try forbidding yourself from ever watching it unless you are doing leg lifts or using a resistance band or walking on a treadmill.

1 Timothy 4:8, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” ESV

PRAYER

I used to sit in church every Sunday and commit to be more disciplined in my prayer life. Then I would not think about it again until the following Sunday. I was sincere, but the busyness of my life distracted me. Fortunately, I used my serious addiction to coffee to help. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is head for the coffee pot. In fact my first coherent thought is, “Coffee!” Nevermind, it is not a coherent thought. Anyway, I made a decision to meet God there, to talk with Him while the aromatic. dark liquid I love was brewing. Soon I was in the habit of starting my day with prayer, asking God to direct my steps.

Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” NKJV

BIBLE READING

I wanted to read the Message Bible from beginning to end. It may not sound ambitious, but I committed to read one or two pages at a time, while I used a hairdryer. My hair dries pretty quickly, so after nearly ten years I am only in the book of Ezekiel. Over the years, the Lord has given me just the right verse at just the right time through this exercise. I have been immensely blessed through His word. I never allow myself to dry my hair without reading it. By the way, Ezekiel is way more than half way through the Bible, so I am thinking I should be done in about six more years. I’ll let you know.

Deuteronomy 32:47, “They are not just idle words for you-they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” NIV

SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION

This is my favorite. We need to know God’s word deep in our marrow to equip us for life’s ups and downs. I like to memorize and I believe anyone can do it. You know I love index cards. I write the verse I want to memorize on a card, then put it in my car. Whenever I am driving, I rehearse the verse until I have it memorized. So don’t laugh if you pull up beside me and think I am talking to myself. I am arming myself with the sword of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” WEB

PIGGYBACKING HABITS

If you need to take medication once a day, try putting it with your toothbrush. If you don’t brush your teeth every day, well then I cannot help you. These techniques apply to habits and require discipline. We all need discipline in our lives, but our actual walk with the Lord cannot be successful through tricks and tools.  The power to live for Him comes from Him.  He requires our dependence, which is something I am only beginning to learn.

Even in Christian circles we are prone to depend upon techniques and methods in the work that Christ has given us to do. Without a complete dependence on the Holy Spirit we can only fail. If we have been misled to believe we can do Christ’s work ourselves, it will never be done. The man God will use must be undone.” A. W. Tozer

Have you tried to establish a new habit in the past and can’t stick with it? Try piggybacking, it works.Share in the comments a new habit you want to begin, or what has worked for you.

Party favors for a funeral?

 party favors for a funeral

INDEX CARDS ARE SCATTERED ALL OVER MY HOUSE

I changed my mind. I said I wanted my index cards put in my casket when I die, instead, I decided I want them handed them out at my funeral, like party favors! Not any time soon though. Don’t worry life expectancy is normal in most people with myasthenia gravis.

Index cards are stashed in drawers, coat pockets, my car’s console, shelves and taped to my mirror. Years ago I began writing Bible verses on them and it changed my life. The only problem with my new plan is they are only legible to a skilled pharmacist or nurse. I made my first C in the third grade, in handwriting.  No, they don’t teach scribbling in medical school.

Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  NKJV

BRING THE CARDS!

Lying on a gurney in the Emergency Department, I waited to be transferred to a hospital where specialists were available to treat my disease. My daughter asked what I needed her to bring. To conserve my strength for breathing, I whispered in a barely audible voice, “My purse and my index cards.” Not to get too personal, but I regret not asking for a few other essentials.

Five index cards with verses pertaining to strength were in the console of my car. I wrote them six weeks earlier when I was diagnosed with ocular myasthenia gravis, which caused double vision and droopy eyelids. Unfortunately, I knew the chance of progression to  the rest of the body was 85%. An index card was taped to my bathroom mirror,

Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t panic!” I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” MSG

 

BUCKET LIST TRIP

I permanently transitioned from doctor to patient the day before I was scheduled to leave on a 257 mile bicycle trip. My daughter, along with two friends and myself, planned to ride the Katy Trail over 5 days. I prepared “strength scriptures” to be prayed over me each day. The evening before my hospital admission I looked at those cards and realized  no one could decipher my chicken scratch. To the best of my ability, I rewrote them on new index cards. The words were fresh in my mind and my heart. God was preparing me for an adventure, which was not a bike ride.

Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” NIV

WEAK AS A RAG DOLL

Usually I am restless and never still. In fact, I have enough energy to get on my own nerves. But for the next five days, I was unable to move. I was too weak to even hold up my head, much less pick up a quarter of an ounce card. A Bible or a devotional book was like a two ton weight and therefore useless to me. My cards lay in plain sight on my bedside table, but it was unnecessary for me to try and lift a finger. I knew what they said in my head and my heart.

Memorize scripture. You never know when you will need it in your heart instead of your hand… Click To Tweet

Isaiah 50:4, “The Sovereign Lord God has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he awakes me and opens my understanding to his will.” NLT 

DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE

Lying weak and helpless, I was a stranger to myself and my family on the other side of the sheets. I could hardly lift my fork to my mouth, yet I wielded a powerful sword. I’m thankful I didn’t wait until my world turned upside down to drag out a Bible and try to find some verse to help me survive. I hope you know more than John 3:16 before the storms of life come, as they always do. Be prepared, your life may depend on it.

Ephesians 6:13, “This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.” HCSB

ARMED BEFORE BATTLE

Imagine you are in the middle of a fierce battle, bullets whizzing by your head, an enemy attacking, and there you are – unprotected. How hard would it be to put on armor? Impossible. Your only option would be to duck and cover or try to run. You can only stand and fight if you are prepared in advance. Victory starts now. Go to the store and buy a stack of index cards, they’re cheap. Write out verses and memorize them, or at least read them often enough to know them in your heart. Carry them around with you, tape them to the mirror and put them in your car or your pocket. Have them handed out at your funeral if you like. Trust me you will need them someday, maybe even today.

:Psalm 29:11, “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” KJV

I incorporate scripture throughout my posts. To receive them by email every Saturday morning, scroll to the bottom and enter your address. Then hit the button “Join Me on the Porch”.

What are your favorite swords?