Creating positive habits takes time. Studies show an average of 66 days with a range from 18 to 254 days. From experience, I understood the difficulty in creating new behaviors to replace negative ones. For this reason, I needed accountability to help me become consistent.
I recalled a free tools worksheet created by Anne Voskamp that could help me with creating habits. After downloading Anne’s “100-day calendar,” allowing me to keep track and log 3 habits over 100 days, I immediately realized I needed accountability. Without a partnership, I feared I would quit just days into this journey.
A friend agreed to join me on this 100-day quest, and we had the same 3 habits we endeavored to address: healthy and mindful eating, increased exercise, and consistency in our spiritual lives. While our goals were similar, our means to reach them differed. We set up an online chart to log our daily report. We agreed to be honest and report our good and bad days / choices. Every ten days, we evaluated our progress and modified or adjusted our plan as needed.
We recently passed the 50-day mark and took this occasion to look back over the first half of our challenge. We marveled at how quickly time had passed. We shared our frustrations in how far behind we feel since we hoped to see more progress. I remarked I wanted faster results; more like a microwave than the crock-pot we seem to experience.
Slow cookers have taken a backseat to instant pots these days. Microwaves and instant pots offer quicker meals, which gets you to the goal of eating sooner. In my experience, some meats suffer from quick cooking. Microwave foods can have hard and dry spots. Instant pots do better, but nothing beats slow-cooked meats that are so tender it can fall apart with a fork.
As I consider the habits I want to cement into my life, I find myself in the slow process similar to crock pots. The goal remains distant, but change is happening. I am becoming more mindful of my eating habits. My portions are smaller, the choices healthier, and I have lost pounds and inches. Working out is not yet a joy, but I am seeing and feeling improvements in my joint health and endurance.
Most important to me has been the benefits of spiritual disciplines. Here is where the crock-pot analogy finds its closest comparison. External changes may provide quick results, but the heart may suffer from hard areas. Trying to change from the outside in may be initially quicker, but rarely lasts.
Lasting transformation (and habits) involves internal changes that eventually show up externally. The heart softens and becomes tender to changes in word and deed. Habits form with repetition and can become not a task, but a joy.
All of this takes time and patience. You, like me, may have heard that genuine change is a journey, not a destination. I have not reached my short-term goals yet, but I will if I don’t give up. Having my friend hold me accountable to stay focused on the goal has provided encouragement to keep going.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, NLT)