Tag Archives: habits

A New Year’s Parent Pep Talk

We are one week into 2018.  Have you radically changed your life yet?  Me neither.  I’ve mostly been trying to convince my body that I’m not still in India.  I love mornings.  But I don’t love 2AM.

Many people love New Year’s Resolutions, and others just as passionately hate them.  I mostly stay away from the “resolution” word because it feels like as soon as theirs failure, there’s despair and giving up.  Anything really worth “resolving” at the front of the year should be worth sticking with as the year goes on, even if it takes you most of the year to start sticking.  If you want some help on getting a new habit to stick, I recommend you checking out one of the very early blogs and podcasts I did,  all about how to learn a new habit.

I like to take the couple of weeks at the end of one year and beginning of another to evaluate where I’ve been and where I’m heading.  As I do, I always remember a powerful quote by Andy Stanley:

“Your Direction, Not Your Intention, Determines Your Destination”

This is simple, profound, and convicting.

As an example, I live really close to U.S. 1 in Stuart, FL.  It’s cold right now, so perhaps I decide I want to get as far south as possible, and I know that U.S. 1 will ultimately get me to Key West.  If I head to U.S. 1 and turn left from my house, it doesn’t matter how much I want to get to Key West, I’m headed to Maine!  It’s my direction, not my intention, that determines my destination.  Therefore, a very wise, simple exercise we should do as humans, parents, followers of Jesus, is to take an honest look at our direction.

A simple, powerful question to ask yourself:

Given my current direction, without changing trajectory  where am I heading?

I think this is an important question to ask oneself, not just in general, but in specific areas of your life.  Take some time, apply this question to the following areas:

  • Your walk with Jesus
  • Your marriage
  • Your relationships with your kids and family
  • Your professional life
  • Your finances
  • Your physical health

Very likely, if you’re honest, you’re not going to be thrilled with all of the conclusions.  Given that reality, you’re left with two options: 1) Keep on doing what you’re doing and pretend that somehow you’re going to get a different result through magic 2) Change your direction.

If you realize you need a change of direction, I recommend you 1) share this with someone who can encourage you and keep you accountable, 2) make a plan to start baby steps in the right direction and 3) check out this “Hardwiring Habits” post I mentioned earlier.

And if you’re looking for baby steps, here are a few you might consider:

  • Read one chapter of the Bible a day; add a specific time of consistent prayer each day; get in a small group with people who will encourage you
  • Block one morning or evening every week or two weeks for a date with your spouse, or some intentional activity with your kids each week, or one specific night each week for dinner with your family
  • Write out 3 Actionable Goals for this year in your professional life
  • Take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course and follow his Baby Steps to Financial Freedom
  • Start a Food Journal.  Write down everything you eat.

These are just suggestions, and you likely cannot start all of these at one time and have any hopes at succeeding.  So pick on, or two.

Take baby steps.  Change your direction.  Change your destination!  By God’s grace and with His help you can do this!

Let me know what baby steps you’re taking this year!


Summer Growth Plan

“A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan next week” General George S. Patton

I am an obsessive planner.  Some of them actually happen.  Many don’t.  But I can say that I’ve managed to accomplish FAR more by making and working towards goals in different areas of my life than I would otherwise.

This might possibly be the most important post you read and do this summer.  We are in a 2 week stretch in our Student Ministry where we are helping our students think about how to intentionally use their time this summer to move forward in various aspects of their lives.  There’s no reason this couldn’t be a family exercise.  As a matter of fact, I cannot think of anything better for you to do with your kids than MODEL intentional growth in your spiritual life, and sometimes learning how to intentionally grow in other areas helps set the patterns for our spiritual life.

So here’s a little chart that each person in your family can think through and share with one another.  Before you click, as an expert planner, and an expert at failing to follow through on many of my plans, let me give you a couple of thoughts that will help you and your family actually succeed at your goals:

  1. If you have too many goals, you’re more likely to fail across the board.  There are six areas on this worksheet.  Don’t feel obligated to fill them all out.  Or, maybe you should fill them all out and then pick the TWO you are most passionate to tackle.
  2. An end of summer goal should be challenging, but reasonable.  You can go a long way towards developing a habit in the next two months, but you’re not going to revolutionize your physique or memorize the book of Romans between now and then.  Think of where you would like to be in these areas by Christmas.  Your Summer Growth Plan should really help you get on that path.  If you can manage a new habit in the unpredictable chaos of summer, you’ll be a pro when you get back into the routine filled fall.
  3. Your goal should consist of daily (or multiple) very doable baby steps.  The steps should be different than what you’re currently doing, but small enough to be manageable and somewhat enjoyable.
  4. Reward yourself every day you take your daily step.  I recommend chocolate.  Even for losing weight.  Especially for Bible reading, memorization, or witnessing.
  5. Find a partner or family member to share your plan.  Secret goals are goals we don’t actually plan to accomplish.
  6. Success gives momentum for success.  That’s why you should pick just one or two areas.  If you succeed in them, you’ll have developed the skill and confidence to tackle the other areas next!

OK, that’s enough.  Have fun!

Summer Growth Plan


What’s Your Parenting Style?

What’s your parenting style?

In my mind I’m a pretty rational, consistent guy.  I make choices based on logic and reason, and I can be counted on to do what’s right and most logical in a given situation.

But in reality, I know that sometimes my parenting “technique” has a lot to do with my mood, the time of day, what I’ve had to eat, which kid is in front of me, and a whole assortment of other issues.

The truth is we are all much less consistent than we’d like to be.  But we do have general patterns that we fall into.  In their book Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay discuss three general parenting styles and the effects they have on kids over the long term.  Check these out and see where you fit:

The Helicopter Parent – Helicopters are excellent for emergency situations, but in general they make a lot of noise, wind, and chaos.  It’s hard to get “normal” life done with a helicopter hovering overhead.  Out of tremendous love and concern for their children, the helicopter parent will tend to hover over their kids, swooping in to save the day.  Helicopter parents are afraid of their child’s failures, both large and small, and swoop in to rescue them, whether it’s a broken bone or a missing homework assignment.  What are some consequences of helicopter parenting?

  • Kids don’t learn to do things on their own and lack confidence needed to thrive in the real world
  • They develop the habit of blaming others for their failure
  • Resentment develops between parents and kids.  Parents expect kids to be super thankful, but kids resent the nagging, the constant presence, and the times when mom and dad don’t swoop in an rescue them.

The Drill Sergeant – Drill sergeants motivate through fear and intimidation.  They get things done, but it’s generally not because their soldiers want to do the work.  They’re just afraid of getting yelled at and punished.  Drill sergeant parents work much in the same way.  They can get their kids moving, run a tight ship, and perhaps even for a time keep the kids out of trouble.  But soldiers don’t really ever develop a fond relationship with their drill sergeants, and kids live emotionally distant from drill sergeant parents.  The motivation for doing right and wrong is “am I going to get caught, and what will happen”? Consequences include:

  • Decisions are not based in wisdom of what’s right, but rather “will I get in trouble?”
  • Kids lack trust in parents to admit when they’ve messed up.
  • Parent looked at as the aviary to be avoided or appeased.

The Consultant – In grown up land, consultants are not brought in to do other people’s work.  They also don’t cannot make anyone do work.  They analyze, enlighten, and advise.  But at the end of the day, it’s up to the business to put in the effort to make changes.  The consultant can remain honest and encouraging, but they’re not emotionally attached to every move their client makes – the consultant gets paid for the analysis and advice, not implementing the plan.  In the same way, a parent can strive to be their child’s consultant, especially as they age.  Parents can point out the reality of the situation, advise on options, but leave the implementation-and the consequences-to the child.  It’s certainly harder in the short term than swooping in and saving the day, or unloading one’s emotions until the child conforms in obedience, but over the long haul it’s not only easier, it’s more enjoyable.  Benefits of a consultant parenting style include:

  • Freedom from emotional manipulation by the parent or child to get what they want.
  • Open dialogue and a lower level of fear to reveal mistakes.
  • Kids that are molded to make decisions based on what’s wise and right, not based on what they can get away with.
  • A release for mom and dad from feeling like they have to save the day when things go bad.  Empathy and natural consequences work WAY better to change behavior than anger and emotion.

I’ll talk more about these in the future, but that’s a quick overview.  Feel free to listen to the podcast of this episode for more insight.

What about you?  What style describes you best?  Where do you want to be?  I’d love to hear from you!

Seriously Funny

Michael Jr. is a fantastic comedian who also really loves Jesus.  In this Ted Talk he shares how his struggles and trails became the setup for offering something good to the world.  This would be a really fun video to watch with your teens (the humor will go over the little one’s heads) and talk about how God might use the challenges in their life to be a blessing to many.


LPOP 2 Hardwiring Habits

A relatively quick overview of how to create and replace habits.  This could really change your life, it changed mine!

The Best Habit You Can Learn This New Year

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

Bill Gates

I love New Years.  I love being able to look back at last year, surprised by what happened, happy at some things that got accomplished that I actually planned, and recommitted to try again on the things that didn’t pan out so well.  I also love Mondays, because with Mondays I get 52 mini-New-Years to course correct my plans and habits.  So I’m probably a mutant.

Whether you like New Year’s Resolutions or not, you should be happy about that fact that you are still alive, there is still an opportunity to grow, improve, and enjoy life.  You should also be happy about the fact that the God of the Universe gives you a new day, a New Year, and a clean balance sheet:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.               Lamentations 3:22-23

Not only does a new year give us a new opportunity, it brings our kids new opportunities.  After experimenting and finding great success in my own life last year, I am ready to spend this year teaching my kids the Power of Habit.  God has designed our brains to LOVE habits.  They make life easier, more efficient, and more pleasurable.

Except when they are bad habits.  Then they do something between dragging us down or completely ruining our lives and the lives of those around us.  Habits are powerful things.

There’s a great book by Charles Duhigg called “The Power of Habit” that not only teaches about how the brain is wired to form and master habits, but also how you can create or replace a habit.  I’ll put a link here for you to watch a simple talk on how to replace a habit.

Here’s my 30 second explanation of the Habit Loop for replacing or creating habits.  But you should really watch the video:

Habits have three parts.  

  1. The Cue (a person, place, time of day, emotion, or activity that triggers a habit)
  2. The Routine (the actual habit)
  3. The Reward (our payoff for doing the habit)

The key to creating a habit is to identify your cue, determine your routine, and then give yourself an immediate reward that is enjoyable enough to give you motivation to do the habit.  After a few weeks of repetition, an amazing thing happens in your brain.  Your brain begins to associate the Routine with the Reward, and you start to find pleasure in the Routine.  At this point, you’ve created a habit.  

I used this method to finally master getting out of bed an hour before my children in the morning for extended prayer and Bible study.  My reward: fancy coffee and premium chocolate.  At this point, I’m hardwired to wake up.  I don’t need the chocolate any more, and I actually really enjoy my routine.  PLUS, I learned an incredibly valuable tool for creating future habits.

As we seek to parent our kids on purpose this year, I can think of few things more powerful than teaching them the life skill of identifying, replacing, and developing habits.  It works with Scripture memory, cleaning the house, exercising… essentially any activity that can be incorporated into life.

SO here’s my suggestion.  Pick something.  Pick something fun, something rewarding.  Watch the video below, and if you want more in depth teaching on this, either buy the book or listen to this sermon.  Make it a family challenge with each person picking ONE habit to develop.  Create good, immediate rewards as well as a stretch reward for several weeks of successful habit formation.  And have FUN!!!

So what’s the best habit you can learn this New Year?  It’s the habit of taking control of your habits!