Difficult Choices

"Excellence is an art won by training and habitation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit."- Aristotle

It has been said that a good habit takes at least 28 days to establish. In contrast, bad habits seem to be natural and are established by default. As an example, if I desire to exercise daily and I don’t get up one morning in time to exercise I have made a choice to reinforce a bad habit. Excellence then, as the quote suggests, is the product of a lifestyle characterized by difficult choices. Unfortunately, the choices necessary to reinforce a good habit are never the easy ones to make.

A significant factor in the arena of habits is that habits lend themselves to addictions. Most people think of addiction in terms of substance abuse or workaholism. But addictions take many forms – watching television, wasting time surfing the web, Facebooking, checking email, yelling at your children, being critical. You name it, we can become addicted to it. Many of our seemingly harmless addictions are performance and development killers. I remember when I realized the power of addictions one night when a championship football game was on television – I had been trying to establish a habit of getting to bed earlier, so that I could get out of bed earlier and exercise in the morning. But I simply did not want to miss the game. It was as if there would be a part of me missing if I didn’t stay up to watch it. The pull against the difficult decision to give up the game and go to bed was like an electromagnetic one. And it’s these kinds of habits or addictions that will kill your performance in every area of your life – growing in your career, being a loving and engaged father, being a great wife, getting involved in your friends lives, spending quality time with your Heavenly Father, etc., etc. So decide now to be one who will make the difficult choices. If you need help in addressing some issue, seek out help from a professional counselor, a trusted friend, your pastor. Maybe answering the following questions will help.

Application

    1. Name one good habit that you have been trying to establish.

    2. What are the hindering bad habits that get in your way?

    3. Describe how these bad habits are self-limiting behaviors that hinder your performance.

    4. What are the consequences of the choices you make that reinforce your bad habits?

    5. What are the benefits you are losing out on by not making the difficult choices?

    6. Write an affirmative reminder that will help you overcome and establish this good habit.

    7. Once you have this one “licked”, try it on another habit.

- Jeff Faulkner


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