I’ve been noticing that “plucking” a bad habit seems to be a lot easier than “planting” a good one, and wondered why. In fact, I’ve also wondered why a “non-gardener” like me was suddenly inspired to use gardening words with habits at all. Who am I kidding? But new secrets are hitting me today.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to catch wind of our 120 Day Challenge this go around – that’s ok and this post will still help you! I am writing today because I’m learning something as I progress, that’s both unexpected and powerful. It might help you change your life.
As many of you know, the 120 Day Challenge is based on a direction I felt from the Lord: “Change Your Routine in 2013 — and then if you were going to subtitle it: Plant One Habit He Directs. Pluck One He Rejects. It’s not a para-New-Year’s-Resolution, though, it’s something greater. (to learn more about it look here)
The idea is basically to focus on two areas of your life for 120 days: Plant a new habit; pluck an old one during that time. You get the picture. The unusual part about it is we are not focused on a goal like losing 20 lbs, we are focused on the goal of changing two habits in our routine. That IS the goal. We are expecting results to follow.
But here is what I am learning that may also be a secret for you: an important one.
So if the first secret is to all this is to (1) focus on changing your routine as the goal - then here is the second secret:
- (2) Plants take time to grow – and growing a habit won’t necessarily occur overnight.
- (3) Plucking a habit is easier because once you pull it; it’s gone – (of course if a weed is left too close to fertile soil it can grow back.) In a way, plucking habit CAN, therefore, much more easily occur overnight.
The secret is in this part, read carefully below
(2) Plants take time to grow – and growing a habit won’t necessarily occur overnight.
For me, I resolved that I’m plucking sweets and planting a 4-day/wk workout first thing in the morning – and that God is going to work in my health and daily routine through this in addition to natural results. So how am I doing? Plucking sweets was harder than I thought at first, but I have virtually stuck to this from day one with no exceptions. Yahoo. Good start.
Planting the exercise routine: in the first week I was actually travelling on day 1 and frankly, got in too late to begin day 2. “Missed” two right out of the gate. “That’s not the best example,” I thought. But I managed to finish the week with two workouts on the remaining days to go along with the pattern in my heart. Following week: all 4 perfect. “This is gonna rock,” I thought.
This past week only 2 of 4 again.
I began entertaining the self-condemnation we all do, as if the key to this challenge lies in total perfection on both fronts. “I’m disqualifying myself every time I mess up, ” I thought. “With all these people doing it too, I’m failing” I also thought! But as I pondered this, something funny began to happen. I started to realize that forming this new habit may be a process itself, like nurturing a plant, and it’s made all the difference.
You see, now I can celebrate the fact that I have done 8 great workouts before sunrise this year, like in no other year, which is a fantastic start for me. I can celebrate the progress and realize that my goal is not perfection for 120 days, its to be fully at a changed routine which I can maintain on day 121, 122, and beyond. It’s to make progress all during this period until I get there. It’s to stick with it, nurture it, encourage it and go for it.
The flipside might look something like this: you absolutely ruthlessly allow yourself no room for error, yet somehow make it through 120 days. You don’t celebrate progress. You just have a big party on day 121. If you happen to slip even a tiny bit here or there, you feel like you have totally blown it. You just look at the law. You are so exhausted when you get there that after a brief period on the mountaintop you head back to the valley to rest and slowly give back the precious ground you’ve won. So you lost the weight (temporarily), did the Bible reading, increased your fitness, prayed more, whatever… but then watched it slip away.
Parting Wisdom Summed Up
If you can make it without any exceptions and never look back, by all means do. But if you can’t: stop beating yourself up. Start celebrating progress and keep eyeing making more, gradually, for the next 120 days until you got this. You will be there before you know it! (And I’ll be right there with you.)