Setting Goals and Creating Habits You Can Actually Maintain: December Series, Part 3

December 21, 2021

I’m Cason!
And I'm so glad you're here. My prayer is that these words give you hope in the everyday so that you can experience God's fullness in
every season.

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Hey mama! In today’s episode we are continuing the December series on Why You Shouldn’t Wait for January to Create Change. This episode is going to take practical & spiritual, and mesh them together in a beautiful message of hope and encouragement.

Today we’re talking about how to set a goal you can ACTUALLY reach and maintain. This starts with changing your habits. I’m going to share some of James Clear‘s knowledge from Atomic Habits that I have found to be so helpful in my own life when setting goals and creating new habits. I’ll also share some practical tips for productivity and JUST STARTING!

If you have ever struggled with consistency and new habits, this episode is just for you! Remember, there is no place for guilt and shame here! Today is a new day. It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done in the past. What matters is today – RIGHT NOW!

Eyes ahead, mama. We’re striving onward & upward. Grab your headphones. Reheat your coffee. Let’s get started! PS – you may want to take notes for this one!!

Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 of the series if you missed them!
Take a screenshot & tag me on IG to let me know you’re listening: @heyitscason
And if you haven’t already, please leave a rating and review. It’s super simple & quick and helps me MORE than you know!

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Hey mama. Welcome back to another episode of Her Pursuit. I’m so glad that you’re here with me. Okay, we’re three weeks into our December series. So today I’m sharing part three of four and we’re going to get super practical here. I hope that you have listened to Part One and Part Two, and that you’re starting to see change in your life by now.

We’re not waiting for January. Okay. We’re starting now. We don’t have to wait for a new year. We don’t have to wait for a new January 1st. We are going to start creating change right now. So let me know what you’re working on. How are you feeling different? What changes are you creating in your life? How are you feeling?

And if you haven’t started anything or don’t feel like you’re making any progress, please just know it is okay. Give yourself so much grace. But by the end of this episode, you will have a specific goal. If you choose to kind of work with me here and go through this together with me, you’re going to have a specific goal that you can begin to start working toward right now.

Not in January. So grab a pen, grab some paper. If you want to, take notes, and let’s get started.

Okay. James Clear has an amazing book. It is called Atomic Habits and in it, he shares so much good information, but he shares four laws for creating habits. And I’m going to share those with you now. The first thing we have to do is “make it obvious.” Habits begin without us really even noticing them. And we’re more likely to do something when it’s obvious and when it is visible.

So we’re going to reach for the thing we can see. We’re going to do the thing that’s right in front of us. We’re more likely to do something when it’s already prepared, already ready, right in front of us. If you want to create a new habit, he says you have to make it more obvious for yourself. Prepare, lay out your journal.

If you want to start getting up and writing in the mornings, do this the night before. Set your space, prepare the laundry, prepare the coffee maker, lay out your running clothes, get your shoes ready, whatever it is. Designate an area for this habit to take place. And this is going to help you settle into this new routine.

So the first thing is you have to make it obvious. Make it obvious. Even though we’re grown adults, we are grown women… We are very smart, very intelligent, our minds and our brains need things to be obvious. We need for it to be obvious. We need a big flashing red blinking sign that says, “Do this thing right now!” Especially as moms, right?

Like there’s something always calling for our attention. And I don’t know about you, but I’m like, if you give a mouse, a cookie, I go into the laundry room to start the laundry. And then by the end of the day, I realized that somehow I’ve done everything else except starting the laundry. Like, how does that happen?

I don’t know, but we have to make it obvious. We have to make creating habits obvious for us. The next thing that he says to do is to “make it attractive.” So this is part of that reward that our brain wants, we want a dopamine hit. And in order to form beneficial habits, we have to make the cues that trigger us to start, to do the thing, we have to make that irresistible.

We have to recreate this dopamine spike for the brain in order for us to want more of this thing. So make it irresistible, make it attractive because the brain wants a quick win. So think about these things in context of your situation, how you want to create change in your life, the things you’re working toward, how can you make that thing more attractive?

How can you make the brain want it, okay? The third thing is to “make it easy” and this is what makes the habits stick. This is the actual action. Like how many times can you do this specific thing with the least amount of effort? You don’t want this new thing to feel challenging. You don’t want it to feel hard and difficult.

You have to make it easy. And what this means is if it feels too big, you need to scale it back. So you have to make it easy, the habit that you want to create and implement into your life. It has to be easy. The fourth thing is that you have to “make it satisfying.” Again, we are going to repeat the actions that are rewarded.

We want that instant gratification. We want for it to feel good right now. We’ve always been this way. And a lot of things now are delayed return, delayed gratification, and our brains do not like it. So we have to make the results very tangible. We have to make it something that we can see and get the gratification right now.

We need the reward instantly. Okay. So how can you make the thing? How can you make the habit or the end result of success, the feeling of that success? How can you make it satisfying? What can you do? He then talks about how to build better habits in four simple steps. And all of this can be found in his book, Atomic Habits.

Like I said, you need to read it. You need to listen to it, get an audio book, however you can consume it, get it. It is really, really good. And it’s going to help you understand how to create change in your life because he’s telling you how to build habits that will actually stick, that will actually work for you in your life.

So the first thing in order to build a habit, Is that you have to have a cue. You have to have something to signal the brain, okay. So it’s seeing that journal that you want to write in or laying the workout clothes out and you see them. That is your cue. You have to know what to do. The brain has to know what to do.

Kind of like the big flashing sign that we talked about, make it obvious. This is your cue. Okay. The second thing is your craving. The craving is initiated once it hits upon that cue. So once it sees it… This is what the habit delivers. It delivers the comfort, the excitement, the reward. It’s going to reinforce the habit, which leads you to a response, which is the third thing.

The response is actually performing the habit. But you have to remember that if the habit requires you to do more than what you’re comfortable with, or if it is it’s just too much, it feels too hard, then you’re not going to do it. Okay. So you have to be able to have quick easy wins. This is the response.

Scale it back if you need to make the response be easy. The fourth thing is that you need that reward. You’re always looking for a reward. Absolutely vital and forming habits, reward is going to satisfy you. Reward is what is going to teach you the actions to remember and repeat and continue in the future.

So you have to reward yourself. And sometimes this looks like scaling back. What success actually is just like we said a second ago, with making it satisfying. It has to be satisfying. It has to feel like a reward in order for your brain to feel like it is worth repeating. Okay. If you don’t hear anything else, you have to, you have to hear that and you have to understand that your brain needs for the thing that action.

Whatever the result is to feel like it is worth repeating. It has to feel worth it for you to continue doing it over and over and over. That is how you’re going to create the habit. I really hope this is starting to make sense. I’m kind of getting a lot of this out there and sharing it with you kind of quick.

But if you’re taking notes, I hope that you’re starting to see a pattern here with how to build these habits. And James Clear’s four simple laws for creating them. So apply this to your life, whatever that means, whatever it looks like. And just decide what is one thing you can choose to do to make more obvious, more attractive, more satisfying, get that reward in your life, to where you can start to build on these habits.

What can you do to get a quick win? A big part of this is momentum, it’s just getting started. What what’s the law? It says “that an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” So when things get into motion, they tend to stay that way. Think about that in your own words. Starting is seriously the hardest part most of the time.

And once you get going and you start to see small results, whether it’s the way you feel or a habit that you create, or something as simple as decluttering one drawer instead of the entire kitchen… That helps you to build momentum and stay motivated to keep going. I used to set a timer in the beginning because one of the biggest lies that I believed is that something was going to take way more time than it actually took.

So I would put the task off and put it off and put it off and then it never got done. And so I would set a timer and it would be for five minutes at first and then 10 minutes. And I started to realize this doesn’t take half as long as I thought it did, like clearing off this counter top here does not take 30 minutes.

Like, it seemed like so much longer than what it actually was. And when I use the timer to kind of like, I make it fun because I try to beat the timer or see if I can do it in that amount of time. At the same time, I’m actually doing the thing that I didn’t want to do. So I’m seeing the result. I’m seeing the clear countertop, and there are studies research that shows that less clutter equals, you just are better overall as a human.

And so you’re getting your instant gratification right there because you’re seeing the result. So what is your motivation? What keeps you going? Because this is a very, very important to figure out and decide because there are going to be days, honestly, when you don’t feel like it. There are days when I don’t feel like getting up at 5:30. There are days I don’t feel like setting my alarm and getting up before my girls. I’d rather stay in the bed, especially in the wintertime.

When it’s cold, I want to stay in the warm covers. But you have to be motivated. There has to be something that gets you up, literally out of the bed, or motivates you to do that thing that you’re working toward. And it has to be a deeply rooted belief or a why that you can choose even when you don’t feel like it.

And remember it on the days when you don’t feel like it. But when you could remember that why and remember your motivation, like why you started in the first place, why you’re even working toward change, then you’re going to be more likely to keep going. One last note of encouragement that I want to leave you with is this… Philippians 3:13-14, says “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God and Jesus Christ.” And so what that says to me is that number one, he’s not looking backward. So it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve tried and tried and feel like that you failed. I did that for years with a morning routine and it’s because I was trying too big.

I wasn’t following the simple laws and the different things that I shared with you in the beginning that James Clear has come up with and so brilliantly, put into a book. This information is gold and it is practical. And I love it, but it’s also spiritual. We’re not called to look back and live in the past.

We’re not called to relive our failures. We’re not called to live in the guilt and the shame. So if you feel that when you come to these habits and these new goals you want to set in your life, ask God to take them. Give it to him and ask him to remove those things from your life because they don’t belong there.

And just let it go. Forget what lies behind you and strain forward to what lies ahead. Press on toward the goal. And obviously as Jesus followers, the ultimate goal is Him. He is the ultimate prize, but there are things that we can strive toward here on earth to make our lives better and be better versions of ourselves and feel better and be better moms and better women and better wives.

There’s so much to be had. And I think a lot of times we just get stuck in the old and we get stuck in what lies behind us and how we’ve always been and what we’ve always done. And we just stay there and I really want to encourage you today. If you have felt that way in your life, if you have felt stuck, just like you’re not able to create this change and create these habits…

And you just feel like a complete failure, just know that the enemy and be aware and be on the lookout for the enemy to plant those little seeds into your mind, because that’s where he’s going to attack you. He’s going to make you feel like you’re a failure. Like you can’t do this. You’ve never been able to do this.

So why would you even try? And once you’re able to recognize his voice and his lies for what they are, then you can fight back with truth so much easier. It makes it so much easier once you actually can recognize the lies and the attacks that he is this going to come, it’s going to come because it says he is out to kill, steal and destroy.

He does not want for us to move into this better version of ourselves and to be transformed, to be more like Christ. So when you go out to create change, when you intend to set something new in your life, then you’re going to experience resistance. Not only because of the things that we’ve talked about in the part one and part two with the brain and when to keep you stuck and familiar because that’s the flesh, the flesh just wants what it wants, and it doesn’t understand this spiritual realm that you are a new creation in Christ.

And those things are always going to be at war with one another. But also the enemy, there’s a spiritual aspect to this as well. There’s spiritual warfare that we face and that we encounter every single day. And we don’t even really realize that we’re engaged, but there is this battle. And so I want for you to come prepared every single day to recognize what the enemy is doing, the lies he’s telling you and fight back with truth, and decide that you’re going to strive forward to what lies ahead and press on press toward this.

Like I said, the rest of the verse says for the prize of the upward call of God and Christ Jesus, but also for what He’s called you to live in your life right now in motherhood. He is the ultimate prize. Yes. But there are so many things that we could be doing differently in ways we could be living differently.

And when we can get those things down, when we can actually start to create these habits practically in our life, we will be able to live in that freedom that he’s called us to. And so partner with the Holy Spirit. Partner in prayer with God and ask him to help you with these things, ask him to remove, you know, the strongholds in any of the hurdles that you feel like, that you just run into time and time again, just ask that the Holy Spirit would show you when you’re coming up against that again in your life and ask for power to overcome it and move forward and get one step closer than you’ve ever been.

And I pray that as you do that, you start to build this momentum. I like to think about a snowball. I feel like that we could roll this ball of snow and it would just get bigger and bigger and bigger. And so, think about that in your life and use this momentum and continue to press forward and press on.

We’re not looking behind us. It doesn’t matter. We can’t go back and change the past. Like, you’ve already done what you’ve already done. We are where we are, and all we can do is make better choices going forward. We can only decide who we want to become. We can’t decide who we’ve been. That’s always going to be what is, is what is. But you are a new creation in Christ.

And so every day, every moment, every second, you get to step into that. You get to walk in the freedom that is yours in Christ Jesus. And so I want to encourage you in that sister, and I hope that you will take that and carry it with you throughout this week. Throughout the rest of the holidays, going into the new year.

You’ve got this, you’ve got this, you’ve got this. I’m not going to encourage you in something. I’m not going to cheer you on in something. I’m not going to suggest that you do something that I don’t think is possible for you. That I don’t know as possible for you because I’ve been there. I know what this is like.

There are still times in my life when I begin a new habit that I have to revisit all of these things all over again, because it’s not a one and done, you don’t just get it and then you’re good, but you’ve got this. You are good and it’s going to be great. And I’m trusting that the Lord is going to show up greatly and powerfully and mighty in your life, in a way that only He can.

And you’re going to break through and you are going to start to see change in your life. And you’re going to start to create these habits that serve you, that help you to create an intentional motherhood and a life centered around who God says you are. Not who your past says you are or who you were or who the world says that you are, have to be, but who God says you are.

Okay. So if you found this to be helpful, if you enjoyed this episode, please take a screenshot right now, tag me on Instagram @heyitscason, I always reshare these. I love to hear from you. I’d love to know that you’re listening. I love to know how you feel about it. Did you find something useful? Are you going to use it?

You have to use it because that’s the thing. If it stays here, if it just stays in your ears and in your mind, It’s not going to work. It has to actually be lived out in your life. So get to work, get your plan of action. Figure out how you can make your habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. And I will be back next week for part four.

We’re going to be finishing up part four, which will be the last episode in this series for December. And then we are going into the new year, sister. It’s going to be so, so good. So make sure you come back next week, have a Merry, Merry Christmas! Enjoy your Christmas. I love you friend. 

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