A certain man had the habit of carrying around a bag containing 30 small pebbles. He dropped a pebble into a body of water each day he crossed a particular bridge. He would exhaust a bag of 30 pebbles in one month. This practice was his token for reminding him of his need to stay consistent with his goals in life. One day, he crossed the bridge with a group of friends and didn’t want to embarrass them with his common practice and decided not to throw a pebble into the water that moment. At the juncture on the other end of the bridge, his companions dispersed, except for his best friend who lived on the same street with him. He headed back on the bridge. When he told his friend his reason for going back, the friend mocked, “That’s a stupid thing to do. But if you insist, why not go home and sleep. Tomorrow, you can throw in two pebbles.” The man replied, “If I start doing that, one day I might be tempted to throw in seven for a week or the whole bag for a month or I would jump inside the water to serve forever.”
First we form our habits and later our habits form us. Then we can say we have achieved autopilot status. You want to get to that point where you start doing the right thing without thinking about it or with less effort. For instance, if you have been a believer for at least 6 months, I would expect the following should have been in auto-mode in your life: praise and worship; prayer; meditating on the Word; witnessing about Christ and giving.
Psychologists say it takes about six weeks for a habit to develop. It takes about three weeks to get familiar with a new task or new behaviour. It takes another three weeks before it becomes a solid habit in your life. Most people have never been successful in being consistent in their daily time with God because they’ve never made it past the six-week barrier without missing a day. Praying 30 minutes daily for 90 days can form a habit that can transform your life forever, for instance.
The best computer systems are all on auto-mode. Your bank is always available for transaction because they have systems that have been configured to be consistent. Imagine how cumbersome the process would be if someone has to personally send you your balance each time you use the ATM. When you develop the right habits, your life tends to be somewhat a type of such an organised system. By default, you are more attuned to doing the right things.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi