Focusing on habits rather than results

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run-sqAdding children to our families always forces us to up our game. For myself, the birth of each of our four children presented more relational & emotional complication than practical troubles. It is easier for me to handle my tasks and projects with efficiency than handling the tender, needy souls of human beings.

As I mentioned in my last post, “Home Systems: Think in Three” , I came to the Simplified Organization course with a fairly well-established household management routine.

Even so, the course still spoke to my situation. One area of Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done that revolutionized my thinking was Mystie’s emphasis on habits rather than on long-term goals. Because it is easy for me to ramp-up efficiencies in the home, and harder for me to deal “with the child right before me,” quoting Mystie, this has been a real area of growth. Shifting my perspective to seeing a child who needs help cultivating habits, rather than a child who fails to reach the goals I have set for her, has changed much in our daily lives.

Don't focus on the end result; rather, figure out what habits will build up to the desired results. Start small and you won't be discouraged.

Creating Daily and Weekly Habits

First, my daily plan was birthed (something I have written more about right here). I always had maintained a to-do list, and routines had characterized our days, but this was something different. I decided to work at becoming intentional about charting a course for my day in a way that reflected my new-found desire to establish good habits.

To do that, I revamped my weekly plan:


click the image to download the pdf

I refer to my various callings as spheres, and Mystie calls them vocations, but they are the backbone of my plan. My chart displays them as quadrants, which has been a helpful visual for me. You can see I’ve chosen to name my vocations Christian, Wife/Mother, Homeschooler, and Writer/Creator. In each area, I make checkmarks as I complete my habits.

Although I’m still checking things off, my emphasis is not on the boxes themselves. My goal is not to be a 7-day-a-week-devotional girl. My goal, rather, is to grow in Christlikeness, but that can only be done by time spent in the word and prayer. Likewise, my goal is not to be a theological-reader-5x-week girl. Rather, my goal is to grow in my practice of the regular reading of challenging books in order to deepen my understanding of God and strengthen my ability to teach my children and to help other women. Again, the emphasis here is on growing rather than arriving.

A Daily Routine for Kids

Last September, we began the habit of Bible + Breakfast for the kids. For years, I had always read my Bible and devotional and prayed during my breakfast before the kids were up. Sort of a carry-over from bringing my Ramona Quimby books to my bowl of Cheerios as a child, I suppose. Anyway, it was no great stretch for me to begin to think of building a lifelong habit of Bible reading first thing in the morning with our kids as well.

So for almost a year now, every morning, all four of my kids come to the table at the appointed time (8:00am), to find their four individual Bibles sitting right there, waiting for them, alongside their breakfast. There is no kerfuffling around, trying to dig up books or pens or forks or cups of milk. It’s all set up, and they dive into their carbs right alongside the Word, and they all love it. (I wrote more about this B+B habit here).

My intent and desired outcome for our B+B habit is that just as their physical appetites are craving food and drink when they rise in the morning, I want their spiritual appetites to be craving God’s word in the morning. The idea of skipping their Bible at breakfast should be just as foreign of a concept as them skipping breakfast entirely.

This area of habit-building has carried over into my marriage, where I am working on building habits of regular written affirmation and gratitude toward my husband. It has also changed my approach to the kids’ bedrooms. Now I have each child set a timer for a 5-minute daily pick-up, rather than assign them an overwhelming weekly clean-up.

I could go on and on. What I have learned, and will continue to learn, is that there is far greater value in becoming something. The entire Christian life is a process of becoming. I am not sure why it took me so long to figure out that this truth applied to every other area of my life as well, but I am ever-so-grateful that Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done has helped me recognize this truth and implement it.

Learn more about Simple Systems.

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4 Responses

  1. Jessica
    | Reply

    This explains so well why I have trouble with long term goals! Thank you for giving me the words to recognize what I want. I want to cultivate habits, not reach an easily measurable goal, then be done.

  2. allisonburr6
    | Reply

    I (too) have always struggled with long-term goals! So I’m right there with you in the slow realization that these habits of character are actually the foundation — and ultimately more important than the goals themselves..

  3. Sarah
    | Reply

    Favorite Bible for young readers? I guess what I’m saying is… I have two, nearly three, readers that are growing independence as readers but need larger text size and spacing. We want real translations, but also accessible Bibles… does this make any sense?

  4. Toni Kellen
    | Reply

    Things I love in this post: your personal weekfocus on obedience, humility, and growth in grace; your daily focus on a sin to crucify; yourmessage to grow in Christlikeness, rather than check off devo boxes every day. Thank you for giving me some beautiful ideas to think and grow on.

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