This is my year…Part 2
The New Year is full of possibilities that fuel the potential for a better future. That’s why we make resolutions . . . even though those resolutions often fall by the wayside. But there’s something simple you can do to make the most of this year. It begins by looking past what you think is possible in your life, to what God thinks is possible. Is this the year you break some bad habits?
Something To Talk About:
We’ve all experienced how hard it is to break a bad habit. People try all sorts of creative techniques to get free from unwanted behavior or thought patterns, often with little success. Here are 5 reasons we fail:
- We try to change everything at once: We all have habits we’d like to get rid of, and every night we give ourselves the same pep talk: I’ll go to bed earlier. I will resist that cookie. I will stop biting my nails. And then tomorrow comes, and we cave, and feel worse than bad. The problem often is we try to change everything at once. If we want to overcome bad habits, the solution is to pick one thing and do it well. (2) We start with a habit that is too big: Most people are optimistic and try to make too big a change. If you start small, the discomfort of change isn’t overwhelming. If you start small, you overcome the problem of burning through all your enthusiasm or using up your willpower reserves. You make it impossible to fail if you start small. (3) We are seeking a result, not a ritual: Nearly every conversation about goals and resolutions is focused on some type of result. What do you want to achieve? Naturally, we are outcome focused because we want our new behaviors to deliver new results. Here’s the problem: New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do. So focus on the behavior, not the outcome. (4) Not changing your environment: I have never seen a person consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment. We rarely admit it (or even realize it), but our behaviors are often a simple response to the environment we find ourselves in. The single biggest change that will make a new habit easier is performing it in an environment that is designed to make that habit succeed. If your environment doesn’t change, you probably won’t either so the goal is to build an environment that promotes good habits. (5) We assume that small changes don’t add up: Going straight from couch potato to marathon runner does not work for most people. Instead, big changes are made by taking small steps – one at a time. While running a marathon may sound impossible, going on a walk does not. Despite appearing insignificant, that walk can eventually lead you to a marathon. If you’re serious about building a new habit, then start with something small. Start with something you can stick with for good. Then, once you’ve repeated it enough times, you can worry about increasing the intensity. Build the behavior first. Worry about the results later. Try getting one percent better each day.
- Start with who goals, not do goals: Good habits aren’t just the key to accomplishing your goals. Good habits are the key to becoming who you want to be. That begins with learning how to put “who” before “do” when it comes to building up good habits. Identity shapes actions. When you know who you are, you know what to do. Who do you want to be? Well, you know who you are, then you know what the right thing is to do. The do overflows out of the who. Don’t start with the do, start with the who. Who do you want to be? You may say, but this is just who I am, I can’t change. Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.” When you know who you are, you’ll know what to do. A healthy identity creates positive habits. I fast, I tithe, I pray, and I read God’s Word. I eat disciplined, I work out. It creates healthy habits. And positive habits reinforce a healthy identity.
- What are some of your goals for 2023? What would it look like if this was your year?
- If you could wave a wand and make this year different from last year, what two or three things would you magically change?
- What are some of the most common bad habits, and what are the lies people believe about them?
- Think about your past attempts to change. Have you made resolutions or sweeping promises to change? How well did it work?
- What’s one new habit you want to start? What’s one old habit you want to stop? Which is more difficult for you: making a habit or breaking a habit? Why do you think that is?
- What’s a positive habit you do occasionally that you’d like to do consistently?
- Read Romans 7:15-25. How can you relate to the Apostle Paul? What do we need to do to be set free from this cycle? How has the power of Jesus set you free from this cycle?
- Use three words to describe the kind of person you want to become. Are those words different than previous years? If so, why?
- What’s a “who” goal that you want to put into place this year? What are the barriers to reaching that “who” goal?
- What part of the message resonated with you? Any particular applications you took from today’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
The simple truth is God wants more for us than we do. That’s because the transformation we need most — the transformation God is aiming for — goes far deeper and involves far more than we typically understand or expect at first. We were never meant to fulfill our resolves on our own because the transformation we need most requires wisdom and power far beyond ours. This is why Paul wrote, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12)
Every spiritual change we want to make requires the power and wisdom of God because the outcomes God wants are bigger than we can produce. There are very real benefits to breaking bad habits and making real spiritual changes. God is with you so don’t lose heart in pursuing yours.