Today is the day!  While this is posting February 2, maybe you are reading it on July 7 because you just discovered it.  Perhaps, February 2 did not work for you and you are beginning on February 9 or 18.  In any event, if you want to lay the foundation for a successful change in your life, today is the day.  These exercises will help you now or anytime in the future you want to try them.

The following exercises can be done one each day, or may be done all at once.  Have you set aside time to do the assignments this each day?  If not, is this change important?  Are your “reasons” actually “excuses”?  If you have a friend or friends or a small group you are planning to go through these changes with, have you set the time to discuss these exercises one time this week?

Let’s get started!

Exercise #1 – What do you value?

What do you value?  Do you know?  Perhaps you value things you do not even realize?

  1. The following is a list of values you may or may not consider important.  Go down this list and rate each value 1 to 5:
    1. being extremely important
    2. being important
    3. being somewhat important
    4. being not very important
    5. being not important at all.  Then values you rated as “1”, write down in your notebook or journal.
    • Accomplishment
    • Accountability
    • Accuracy
    • Adventure
    • Authenticity
    • Beauty
    • Boldness
    • Challenge
    • Change
    • Citizenship
    • Cleanliness
    • Collaboration
    • Commitment
    • Communication
    • Community
    • Compassion
    • Competence
    • Concern for others
    • Connection
    • Cooperation
    • Creativity
    • Curiosity
    • Decisiveness
    • Determination
    • Discipline
    • Discovery
    • Diversity
    • Efficiency
    • Enjoyment
    • Equality
    • Excellence
    • Fairness
    • Faith
    • Faithfulness
    • Family
    • Freedom
    • Friendship
    • Fun
    • Generosity
    • Gentleness
    • Gratitude
    • Growth
    • Hard work
    • Happiness
    • Harmony
    • Health
    • Honesty
    • Honor
    • Honoring God
    • Humor
    • Improvement
    • Independence
    • Individuality
    • Integrity
    • Intelligence
    • Joy
    • Justice
    • Kindness
    • Knowledge
    • Leadership
    • Learning
    • Love
    • Loyalty
    • Order
    • Peace
    • Perfection
    • Personal Growth
    • Perseverance
    • Pleasure
    • Power
    • Practicality
    • Privacy
    • Progress
    • Prosperity
    • Punctuality
    • Quality
    • Quiet
    • Relationships
    • Relationship with God
    • Reliability
    • Religion
    • Resourcefulness
    • Respect
    • Responsiveness
    • Results
    • Safety
    • Security
    • Sensitivity
    • Service
    • Simplicity
    • Skill
    • Speed
    • Spirituality
    • Stability
    • Status
    • Strength
    • Success
    • Teamwork
    • Timeliness
    • Tolerance
    • Tradition
    • Tranquility
    • Trust
    • Truth
    • Unity
    • Variety
    • Wealth
    • Well-being
    • Wisdom

2.  Now I want you to narrow down your list a little further.  Of the values you have noted as “extremely important”, I want you to pick your top ten.  What are the top ten most important values you have?  There is no right or wrong answer, this is what is important to you.

Exercise #2 — Does my life support my values?

Looking at your ten most important values from Lesson 1, answer the following question in your notebook or journal.

  1. Look at these values, read them again.  Does your life as you are living it now reflect these values?  If not, has your life been promoting other values you do not feel are as important as these?  (For instance, if you are wanting to save for retirement, but you do not have a budget or are going out for every meal, does that fit your values?)  Will the change you wish to make support these values?  Journal your thoughts about these questions.

2.  What can you do to make your lifestyle match up with your values?

3.  Is the change you want to make consistent with your values?  How does it line up with each of your values?  If not, do you need to make a different change?

Exercise #3 — Cost/Benefit Analysis

Today we will answer four questions.  If your journal has pages the size of a regular piece of paper, divide it into four sections.  If the paper is smaller, you may wish to use two pages facing each other and divide each into two columns.  At the top of each of the four total sections, write one of the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of making NO change?
  • What are the costs of making NO change?
  • What are the benefits of MAKING a change?
  • What are the costs of MAKING a change?

Try to leave enough space in you journal to add more to these questions.  As the weeks go by, you are likely to think of other answers.

Now answer this question:  Are the benefits of MAKING the change I am considering, consistent with my values?

Exercise #4 — What is the change?

Today we are actually going to name the change!  You have talked about it, written about it, and prayed about it.  Answer the following questions in your journal:

  1. What is the change you wish to make?
  2. Why do you want to make this change?
  3. How far along are you on making this decision?□ Not thought about it□ Thinking about it□ Close to choosing□ I have already made a choice
  4. What concerns do you have about making this change?
  5. What is the deadline set for you, or by you, for this decision?  Will you be starting this change on February 16 or another day?
  6. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to make this change?  (1 = I do not want to change; 10 = I definitely want to change)

Exercise #5 — Learning from the Past

Most people make several attempts at a change before being successful.  You have not failed if you have continued to try!  Have you ever tried to make this change in the past?

Mistakes are fantastic stepping stones to success!  All, yes all, every single way you have tried to make this change in the past is a lesson!  These have taught you what works and what does not.  Every one of these experiences is information which will help you make your plan of action now.  Take advantage of the experience.

You know better than anyone else what will work for you and what will not.  In fact, research has shown people who have a substance use disorder, do better if they are allowed to make choices about how they want to recover.  It is very important in fact, to find what will work for you because you were made unique and you have a unique history.  You should not and do not have to do everything other people tell you will work.

For a moment, let’s use weight loss as an example.  Many people say you need to weigh yourself every day, write down everything you eat, and go on a very restrictive diet.  The reality is for people who have a food addiction weighing every day and writing down everything they eat could actually cause them to be more focused on food and impede their progress.  This is an example of why it is crucial you figure out what works for you and not listen to every “expert” about what you should be doing.  This does not mean ignore experts, just know they do not have all your answers.

For your journaling today, I want you to answer the following:

  1. Write down ALL the attempts you have made at this change in the past.  If you countless attempts, then narrow it down to the last 5 years or whatever amount is helpful for you.
  2. Now look at these and make two lists:
    • What was helpful?
    • What was NOT helpful?
  3. What do I think may be helpful to me in making this change now?

I cannot tell you how to change.  I do not even know what change you wish to make.  My goal here is to give you tools to help you figure out how to do it.

Exercise #6 — Choosing and Writing Your Goal

What is your goal?  Today we are going to make this goal clear.

In 1981, George Doran published an article in a management journal which included what has become the most popular way to create a goal.  It works for business and for our personal goals.  S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic for the parts of a goal.  A  S.M.A.R.T. goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

“I want to exercise more” is not S.M.A.R.T.   We can make it S.M.A.R.T. by stating:  “I am going to walk for 30 minutes every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday after lunch for the next 3 months.”

Specific:  30 minute walk every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday

Measurable:  30 minutes, 3 days every week

Attainable:  If you are capable of walking and able to walk after lunch, this is attainable

Relevant:  If this is exericise which would benefit you, it is relevant.

Time-bound:  30 minutes, weekly, specific days, for the next month

  1. Now write your goal in your journal.
  2. Is your goal S.M.A.R.T?   (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound)
  3. If your goal is large one, such as “I am going to lose 100 lbs over the next 12 months,” this is called a long-term goal.  A long-term goal is also good.  For this purpose though, I want you to break it down into steps.  Make a mini-goal which can be achieved over the next three months.  Answer the questions below to make a mini-goal goal:
    • Write an additional goal statement which is attainable in three months.  Make it possible, make yourself successful.
    • Is this goal S.M.A.R.T?

Exercise #7 — God and Our Goals

Read Psalm 20.  I particularly like verse 4, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” 

Does God support our goals?  Whatever is important to you is also important to God.  Today, I want you to write a letter to God about your plans.  Talk to Him about it all.  Why do you want to do this?  How will it help you serve Him more?  Ask for help with idea for how to do it?  Tell Him your fears.  Tell Him what you hope for.  Ask for strength.  God made our bodies and our brains.  He knows exactly how difficult change is and He can also give you help.  He wants you to be successful too.

Until next week…

Remember, we are still laying the foundation!  If you start trying to build the house, before the foundation is done, it will fall down.  Next week we will put more bricks in our foundation.

Join the conversation about this series at OutlookMag on FaceBook here.

If there is something particularly helpful or something you would like to have me discuss more, click here to message me.  I’d love to hear what change you are making!