I want to get better in 2022; not to train for a marathon, begin a new diet or redecorate my home. I want to improve at what I’m already doing. I’m sorry if it sounds boring. I’ve learned over the years, it’s better to make attainable plans than to list items I most likely won’t achieve. In this new year, I’ve decided to focus on a few daily actions I want to do better. If I regularly do these, they’ll become habits. Creating habits is the ultimate goal. They happen automatically; they’re magic.
I haven’t always thought this way. In my young adult life I’d make grandiose goals at the start of a new year. I was exhilarated when I picked up a pen to write “Lose 20 pounds” at the top of a fresh new page in my notebook. I visualized my supposed accomplishments. After a few years without results, I realized my “goals” were just wishful thinking. What I really needed was a specific, measurable and doable plan for each day.
The word “better” popped into my mind as I prayed for direction in 2022. I knew it was from the Lord. The concept of “getting better” fascinates me. We become better at certain actions by doing them repeatedly. Good or bad, our actions become more ingrained and stronger as we do them. People don’t become excellently skilled because they’re naturally gifted, but because they practice doing the same thing over and over.
I’ve gotten better at certain practices over the years. When I was a young single mom, I woke up early to spend time in God’s Word and read devotions. Since then, it’s been a solid daily habit. I don’t have to write it on my to-do list or add to my goals; it’s a consistent part of my life.
When I moved to Columbia four years ago, I took walks on the path around our new community. I’d excitedly share my progress with Tom, “I walked to the bridge today”. Then, when that seemed too easy, I walked a little farther and settled on a four-mile walk. This year I plan to walk farther or add additional exercise to my life. It’s not difficult now; repeated actions become habits.
The same is true for unhealthy (or neutral) behaviors. If you’d observed me over the past 12 months to see where I’ve gotten better, you might notice how much I enjoy dark chocolate, coffee and British dramas on Prime, to name a few. I unknowingly got better at all of those because I did them over and over.
Hopefully you’d also find improvement in: communication with my husband, friendliness with strangers, and application of Scripture in my life.
When my kids were young, we’d read a chapter from Proverbs daily at breakfast. I imagined myself as the woman in chapter 31. Verse 17 states “…she works hard, strengthening her arms for the task at hand”. Each time I read this I’d picture my big pile of laundry in a basket perched on my hip. I’d remind myself I was becoming stronger as I routinely checked off my chores. I gained strength for certain tasks as I accomplished them repeatedly. I’ve always loved to make Scripture practical.
There are many things I’d like to get better at in 2022; too many to list. At the top are: writing, drinking water, taking calcium, increasing my physical strength and reading.
The only way I’ll get better in my weak areas is to do those things over and over. I see how easily I can default to sitting, watching TV and eating too much. As I age, I have to work harder— to go against what’s natural.
“Getting better” is a to sister goal-setting. I can say I want to improve, but I need to add actions to my daily schedule and have a system to measure my progress. Goals are very specific.
Here are some ways I make goals:
- Find a quiet space and spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Listen for words and directions from the Holy Spirit, and record them in a journal. Commit to His plan rather than randomly jotting down nice-sounding ideas.
- Commit to a daily schedule that includes the specific areas of focus. Make a simple visual system that logs your actions. I have a small white board with only five daily actions listed. At the top of my list is writing. I want to improve my writing and I want to write a book, which means I need to devote more time to it. This is my most difficult task. I also need to drink more water, so I’ve created a simple system for drinking four bottles of water a day.
- Along the way, goals can be altered, or I can change my schedule in order to reach them. I might need to wake up earlier or give up some TV watching to support an important goal.
- Something else I do is to spread specific one-time tasks throughout the year. I’ll write, “paint furniture” at the top of my calendar in spring. Later I’ll assign the task to a specific day. I’ll finally finish those chairs and that table that patiently wait in the garage.
I hope my ideas help you to enjoy a successful, fulfilling 2022, as your draw closer to God. I’m praying for you now and cheering you on. You can do this!
“Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal!Psalm 31:24 The Voice