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When You’ve Fallen Off the Habit Wagon

Feb 07, 2022

This post is by Cindy Chen.


Welcome to February, where New Year's resolutions fizzle out and die. I struggle to keep a routine, set goals, or take steps consistently enough to build new good habits. But setting goals and building habits are vital for living a healthy, fruitful life. So how do you pick yourself up when you’ve fallen off the habit wagon? 

First, examine the resolution.

Was it the right thing to add to your life? 

Evaluate whether the routine you chose to establish is appropriate for this season. Maybe in a fit of optimism you decided to run a 5k every day. But you don’t have the conditioning so you’re limping. Don’t bite off more than you can chew; work your way up. 

Have you planned the give and take required in your schedule? 

“Out with the old and in with the new” requires something to move out. We cannot only add to our days. Recently I decided to wake up early to have quiet time and write before getting ready for school with my kids. But if I’m still staying up late, the quality of my days will suffer. 

Next, let’s figure out why you’re struggling to keep up the habit. 

It might be obvious: a tummy bug hit the whole family and you're still recovering, or your job just doubled its demands. Sometimes it’s not as clear, and you will need to dig deeper. Maybe you signed up to do something you had no desire to do, but felt obligated by others around you. 

Are you self-sabotaging? Do you have doubts that this will serve you and your future? Do you wonder if you can become the person who writes a book or runs a 10k or reads through the Bible in a year? 

Maybe you are trying to clench your teeth and do something that is simply not bringing you any satisfaction. That physical activity you chose to get more fit is not enjoyable even after several weeks; can you still do something active, but change the workout or the timing of it?

Maybe you need accountability. 

Text a friend and ask her to join you! Join the HelloMornings Academy and community! (Link) Put a big calendar on your wall and draw a bold red X on every day you do your habit. If you want to make sure you can cross it off, make it doable enough that even bare minimum participation earns a mark.

Finally, pray through your struggle and ask God for creative solutions or to refine your goals.

Our habits should be an outworking of obedience. We can’t just self-direct to make ourselves into better people. Are you trying to work out in the flesh what only God can give you spiritual strength to do? Our physical and spiritual lives are not independent of one another, and “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 NIV) What we do will have the power and grace of God behind them if we are walking in obedience. It might not be easy, but it will be life-giving.

Once you’ve processed through the habit you’re trying to build, you might not have any reason why it isn’t happening except that you simply haven’t done it. Now it’s time to set that alarm clock, enter a reminder on your phone, lace up your shoes or buckle your seat to your computer chair, and start over. Toast to the New Year again and vow to start in the morning. Then, as the old ad slogan says, just do it. 

We have opportunities each day to focus our eyes on the purpose of God in our homes and workplaces. Our habits can and should build our lives in a way that support our thriving in heart, mind, and strength. 


Cindy Chen is a wife, mom (of four: toddler to preteen), and preschool teacher, who lives outside of Atlanta, GA. She spends her time cutting crusts off sandwiches, looking for matching shoes, waiting in carpool line, and learning about whatever seems interesting each month. Her favorite thing is when great theological truths of the Word are applied with grace and invigorate our seemingly insignificant daily moments.

 Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash  

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