Archive for September 2006
Here are some things that have proved helpful to me in accomplishing goals and getting things done:
Don’t put it off. In general, if a task won’t take too long and there’s no reason I can’t do it right now, I find it best to do it as soon as I become aware of the need, or as soon as I finish my current task. The longer I put something off the less likely I am to do it at all.
For spiritual disciplines, treat each reminder as a providential prompting by the Holy Spirit. For family and personal devotions, it can be tempting to suppress a reminder. If I haven’t been faithful recently, it is easy to think that it would be too much effort to get started again. Or I may be aware that I won’t be able to do it for the next several days — is it worth it to do it today? Or if I am tired, what’s the harm in putting it off until tomorrow, just this once?
But if I see any reminder as a prompting from God, that puts things in a different light. I have an opportunity ”right now” to choose whether to respond in obedience and faithfulness to God’s prompting, or to suppress God’s conviction and pursue my own comfort. Framing the question as a matter of immediate obedience and faithfulness is helpful to me, and has helped me countless times to press on despite how I may feel. This then helps in cultivating a habit, and over the long haul a greater delight in pursuing God.
Take advantage of existing habits. Try to attach new goals to existing habits so that you can use that as an advantage in forming habits for your new goal. To use mundane examples, I have had success in associating my asthma medication (which at times I struggle to remember to take) with brushing my teeth (which is an ingrained habit). I have had great success in associating flossing (which I have never been able to maintain for more than a few weeks) with shaving (which I do at an interval similar to what I want for flossing). By keeping my medicine near my toothbrush and my floss with my razor, I’ve been able to achieve greater success with these new goals.
Use a helpful goal tracking system. I’ve been using BlotMarks for some time now to track important ongoing goals such as spiritual disciplines, exercise, household maintenance and other responsibilities. Other tools might work well for you. BlotMarks has been helpful to me for several reasons: I have immediate feedback and reminder for how lax I have been with a particular goal; checking things off is satisfying and rewarding; and I can share my goals with others for accountability purposes.