How many times have you started a new habit, only to fail?
Chances are the answer is “lots of times.”
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8% of people successfully achieve their resolutions. That means the rest of us start, stumble, and just give up.
But here’s the critical step that’s keeping us from success: we must treat failure as our friend and learn from our mistakes.
If you’ve ever started a Bible reading plan and given up, you know how discouraging that can feel. But have you ever taken time to think about why you quit? What obstacles stood in your way? What struggles did you face? What frustrations kept you from pushing forward?
In order to make quiet time a consistent habit, you must learn from your past mistakes and anticipate obstacles that may come up. Then, brainstorm creative ways to overcome those obstacles and persevere in your discipline.
Here are a few examples of what commonly derails us, and how we can get back on track:
- Social media: Perhaps you’re skipping quiet time because you get sucked in by your phone or computer. That happens to lots of us. Acknowledge that social media can keep you from seeking quiet time with God, and then determine to not get online until you’ve first met with God.
- Sleeping in: If sleeping in past your alarm clock is a struggle, make it a priority to go to bed earlier. Put your alarm on the other side of the room. Or consider picking another time for your daily appointment with God.
- Schedule deviations: Whether it’s kids waking up early or everyone sleeping in on a holiday, a schedule deviation can throw us off our game. For early risers, put together an activity basket to keep them busy. You can also include family members in your quiet time routine, modeling for them how you meet with God.
- Falling behind: If you’ve missed a few days, it’s easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed. But instead of trying to catch up, give yourself permission to skip those readings and pick up with the current day’s reading. You can always go back and read the days you’ve missed another time.
Anyone who starts a new habit will encounter friction and resistance. You’re not a failure just because you’ve missed a day. Or two. Or ten. It takes time to establish a new habit. So rather than viewing obstacles as signs that we should just give up, let’s begin to view them as opportunities to think creatively and develop perseverance.
Our reward isn’t just belonging to the 8% few who succeed, though that may be true; our reward is deeper intimacy with Jesus. And that’s worth every effort.