Walking with God is a habit. Hearing God is a regular, daily exercise through reading Scripture, praying and meditating on what we read and hear in those times. Notice the fifth and seventh words in the preceding sentence, “regular” and “exercise.” If you want to successfully hear God you must make it a regular practice (or habit) in your life.
Last week, I introduced the first of three hints to develop habits (regular exercise or practice) in your life. Last week, I shared knowing “The Who before the Do.” Everything you do flows out of who you are, so you must define who you want to be in order to create the practices that will lead you there.
Begin here: Who do you want to be? Every habit tip, trick, or tool flows from first clearly defining who you want to be. If you haven’t read that article, stop, and go read it.
Next week, I’ll share with you “Treat Yo’Self” – a system of rewards to encourage the development of habits you want to see in your life.
This week, I want to give you what might be the most powerful “action” tip to developing habits. First, define who you want to be, but then you need to know the action steps needed to be that person. This hint will help you the most.
It’s the 2 Minute Commit.
The Gym Guy
I didn’t used to be a “gym guy.” Do you know who I mean? Gym guy or gal is someone who doesn’t feel like their day is complete without a trip to the gym. He may not talk about it, but he obviously goes to the gym and makes it a part of his daily routine. She doesn’t make it a large part of conversation, but she drops hints that she’s on her way to the gym, or just came from the gym.
They don’t just go to the gym, but they also eat healthier than the average person. The gym guy take his physical body serious. They gym gal isn’t afraid to wear more form fitting clothes. They don’t shy away from physical activity.
Over the last 5-6 years, I’ve been come gym guy. Most weeks see me visit my gym 4-5 times a week for about an hour a day. During that visit, I jump on the elliptical or treadmill for 30 minutes and then rotate through the weight machines for around 20 minutes.
I didn’t used to be gym guy, but I am today.
As a gym guy, I’ve become aware of the cycle of gym attendance. A few times each year, (usually January and May), I notice a large influx of men and women hitting the gym. It’s been a great study of human nature and habit formation.
Most of these new gym members will walk in, hop on the treadmill and huff and puff for 15-30 minutes, and then randomly roll through the weight stations for another 30 minutes. Here’s the pattern I see: for several days, maybe even a couple of weeks, these new members won’t miss a day, but something will catch up with them, and they miss a few days. Then the shame hits, so they return for a day or two. And then they’re gone…until next year.
The desire to be in shape for their vacation or just general health is gone. It was replaced by the pain they encountered getting out of bed, standing up from the couch, picking up their child. In just a week or two, they are back to the same old routine of life.
There has to be a better way, right?
The 2 Minute Commit
In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, he tells the story of man who was more than 100 pounds overweight. Fed up, he created a picture in his head of the person he wanted to be — gym guy. So this man created a new habit…2 minutes at a time. This is what his schedule would look like:
The man would walk out of his house and jump in his car. He would drive to the gym, get out of his car, and walk into the gym. Once in the gym, he would step onto a treadmill, push the button and start walking. To this point, his routine was no different than the people who I see come and go from my gym. It’s what came next that set him apart.
The man would walk on the treadmill for two minutes…and get off.
That’s it. Two minutes and then he would walk off the treadmill to the door of the gym. He would walk out of the gym, get into his car and drive home. That was his workout for the day. But his procedure was in place because the next day he did the same. The day after he did it again, and he did it again the day after that. In a few weeks, two minutes at a time, the man had created a new habit in his life. Two minutes a day, he became a person who was a gym guy.
From 2 to 3 to 5 to 10 to 30 to 100!
Here’s the true genius behind the 2 Minute Commit. It creates a habit, but the action doesn’t actually end after only two minutes.
I’ve noticed in my own routine that if I talk myself into starting, I’ll most likely go beyond my own goal of a few minutes. It is true for both my physical life and my spiritual life.
It was true for the guy who committed to walking the treadmill two minutes at a time. After a while, two minutes turned into three minutes and then five minutes. Five minutes turned into 10 and 15 minutes. Before long, the man was walking 20 to 30 minutes, and adding other workout routines to his habit.
Most important, his 2 minute habit which turned into full workouts day-in and day-out ended in losing over 100 pounds.
Power in Starting Small.
Starting small is not a new idea. Jesus shared this thought when talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. He consistently used the imagery of a farmer planting seeds (the most commonly referred to found in Matthew 13). But Jesus dove the deepest into the power of small using this parable:
“Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”Mark 4:30-32 NLT
Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God, but it is a principle that extends to your life. Habits, both good and bad, start small. Bad habits usually start off unintentional. Before you know it, that seed of a bad habit has become a full blown tree dominating your life.
But it is also true of the good habits you desire. When you plant, water and care for the small seeds of a good habit day after day, it become positive, fruit bearing tree. Not only that, but it will provide for the world around you.
Habits that Matter Most
Several years ago, I started the habit of journaling. I didn’t know about the 2 Minute Commit principle, so I blindly stumbled into its benefits. Over the years, I had tried journaling without success, so I made it as easy as possible. I committed to journal several times a week about life goals for just a few, brief minutes.
I didn’t go too deep. It wasn’t too long. Over time, journaling about my goals turned into recording things God showed me as I read scripture. And it wasn’t just a brief few minutes. It has become 30-45 minutes most every day.
I’ve come to enjoy and even desire a daily physical workout, but I can live without them. I can’t live without connecting with Jesus on a daily basis. A few years ago, an off day meant not reading or connecting with God at all. Now, an off day is reading scripture without journaling and meditation. Today, almost every day of my life has a minimal connection with God.
I need Jesus daily.
It is a habit that matters most in my life. It grows me internally like the mustard tree Jesus talked about in Mark 4. My habit of reading, journaling, meditating, praying is creating within me true life — both within me and for those I encounter on a daily basis.
I don’t grow without a habit. Habit doesn’t happen without a 2 Minute Commit. The 2 Minute Commit doesn’t happen without knowing who I want to be — a person known by God.
That is me. Ask yourself:
- Who do you want to be?
- What habit do you need to create in your life to allow you to be that person?
- How can you scale that habit to make it as easy as possible?
What is your 2 Minute Commit?