3 Critical Steps for Change

3 critical steps for changeWant to change your life this year? Tired of the same old bad habits? Are you feeling defeated, overwhelmed, and hopeless?

Me too.

For a long time I felt like I was spinning my wheels and going nowhere. I needed a better way to live life. One that actually creates change instead of just more of the same.

How about you?

If you want to see big change this year, here are 3 critical steps you won’t want to miss.

Admit it

“Vulnerability is the constant companion of self-awareness” (Dave Sumrall). 

If you want to see any change happen in your life, you have to start by telling yourself the truth. You need to admit that your way is not working. The way you’ve been doing things isn’t getting you the results you want – in fact, it’s probably contributing to your problems.

The first step to change is to take a humble look at your life.

Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied…you put on clothing but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’ Haggai 1:5-7

Ever feel this way? Sowing much but reaping little. Like it doesn’t matter how hard you try, at the end of the day all your work turns to dust. Just when you think you’re getting ahead and gaining ground, something happens to beat you down again.

This was me last year. It felt like I was dropping balls in every area of life. I ended the year completely discouraged; losing battle ground in my mind, heart, and relationships. Old habits were dying a painfully slow death.

Ironically, our pain drives us to change. It’s usually when we’re unhappy, overwhelmed, or empty-handed that we start looking for answers.

But what we don’t realize is that “the gap between our values and actions creates the pain we experience. We fall into the pattern of blaming our pain on circumstances, on people. But so much of the pain in our life is because there is a gap between our values and our lifestyle” (Sumrall). 

For a long time I was frustrated by the state of my emotions, health, relationships, and accomplishments (or lack there of). I lived in a state of self-deception, blaming my struggle and emotional pain on my circumstances and the failures of others. In reality, my problem was something I had complete control over.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death…the sensible man considers his steps. Prov 14:12, 15

When you come up empty-handed at every turn, it begs another look.

I realized that my way – my thought-life, emotions, and behavior – were compounding my pain problem. There was a gap between what I believed to be true and how I actually lived my life.

Consider your ways. What are you doing and why is it not working? Maybe it’s time to forsake your way and find a better one.

Align it

“Everyone is going someplace but few of us end up someplace on purpose” (Sumrall).

Have you ever considered where you are headed in life? Are you going there on purpose? Are you taking your cues from your circumstances or from God?

She does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander and she does not know it. Prov 5:6

In other words, she’s not paying attention. She hasn’t considered that her current way of life is leading her down a road she’s not going to like later. If we do not consider our ways and where they may be leading us, we are destined for nowhere and become a victim of circumstance. We will wander throughout life without purpose and later live with regret.

Change happens on purpose.

If we want a better way, we need to live life on purpose. We need to prioritize our values and put God first. “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will” (Sumrall).

If you want to live an intentional life, you need to ask yourself the where, what and how questions.

Where do you want to go? What do you want to accomplish? What purpose and group of people has God called you to? What in your life isn’t working right now and desperately needs to change? And the big question: How will you do this?

If you want to intentionally go somewhere, you need a plan.

For far too long I wandered through life without charting my course. Creating an actionable plan is something I am still working on but there are so many reliable resources out there to help you know where to start.

Michael Hyatt has devoted his life to helping others change their life and understand the practical steps needed in order to do so. He has great articles like How to Make a New Habit Stick, 5 Strategies for Building New Habits and How to Use Activation Triggers to Reach Your Goals this Year.

Dave Sumrall, the pastor at a large church in Indianapolis, also has an awesome video series right now on First Things First. Obviously from this post, he has a lot of very memorable and life-changing things to say!

Act on it

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is that you have to move in order to change. (thank you, Michael Hyatt).

Change happens in motion. Living the same old way and expecting different results is like spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Change requires you to go a new way, take new steps and bigger risks. It requires you to take an actual step in the direction God is calling you to go.

Once you know what needs to change, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there, there’s only one thing left.

Just do it. (thanks, Nike)

Speaking as a professional procrastinator, one sure-fire way to overcome procrastination is immediate action.

Did you just become aware of a need? Is there something on your to-do list that’s been lingering awhile? Is there something you can do to bless your spouse? Is there a step you can take to overcome your weakness? A prayer you can pray? A neighbor you can serve? A truth in Scripture you need to claim over your life?

Do it. Today.

As the opportunity arises today, act on it. Just do it. Deferring or delaying will only leave you frustrated and disappointed later. You can have all the faith and good intention in the world, but if you don’t act on it with obedience nothing will happen as a result.

In all labor there is profit, but mere talk only leads to poverty. Prob 14:23

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:17

Live your life every day with expedient obedience.

God’s way is the best way. It always guarantees a better life. But we must act on His Word and promises in order to obtain the better, abundant life. It’s not enough to just believe it. Change happens when we live according to His design.

If you want to see critical change in your life this year, consider your ways. Are they working? Do you need a better way? In what areas are you feeling defeated, overwhelmed, hopeless?

Take the opportunity today to surrender your way to Him and choose to follow His way, the better way.

Prayerfully chart your course, act on it, and say yes to the opportunities that come your way. Keep moving forward toward God and live your life on purpose this year! He will give you both the will and power to live by His design (Phil 2:13) and your life will radically change as a result!

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