“Show me your habits, and I’ll predict your success!” I’ve often thought about these words in light of my habits, which can be positive or negative. Since I want to have success in my life, it becomes important to consider my habits and things that I do with repetition. There are endless examples of people who continually practice, integrate daily habits, maintain steady routines, and capitalize on their natural rhythms to cultivate specific successes.
As I think about some examples, I’m reminded of when I was in elementary and middle school and my desire to be a basketball phenom. I’m not sure where this desire came from, but I committed to practicing basketball (shooting hoops, dribbling, ball handling drills, etc.) every day for about two hours. I did this for several years, shoveling snow off the neighbor’s driveway so I could shoot on their rim, dribbling the ball for .5 mile to the park nearby to get in some pickup games, and laying on my back to shoot a basketball into the air for practicing my form and strengthening my wrist. These were my habits every day from 3-5pm, no matter the weather or amount of homework.
Unfortunately, I never became the basketball phenom that I dreamed about, but more importantly, I learned the value of consistency, routines, habits and perseverance. Of course, it was helpful to see progress with my daily basketball work. I could tell my ball-handling skills improved, my shooting ability vastly increased and I developed some much-needed confidence so that I could be competitive and hold my own on the court.
These lessons have served me well throughout my life, and I have come to realize that steady and committed practice can facilitate growth and success in lots of different contexts. I think we can also see these principles demonstrated in the Bible, looking at 1 Samuel and David. Even as a young shepherd, protecting and caring for sheep who can be very stupid and helpless, David was practicing for something bigger and more important, although he didn’t know it at that time.
Here are some things to think about:
- Killing Goliath: when Saul questioned David’s ability to kill Goliath, David recounted how he had killed bears and lions to protect his sheep, seeing these feats as practice for killing Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-47).
- Wilderness survival: for more than ten years, David hid and survived in the wilderness when Saul was chasing him to kill him. Additionally, being a shepherd helped David develop some helpful skills for wilderness survival.
- Psalms: lots of people really like reading Psalms in the Bible, and the Psalms David wrote are among the most popular. Let’s appreciate that David played the harp and sang for Saul long before he wrote the Psalms that we enjoy today. David “practiced” his psalms when he sang and played the harp to soothe Saul (1 Samuel 16:23, 18:10 and 19:9).
- King of Israel: David was one of Israel’s best and most revered kings, but he didn’t flip a switch and instantly become “king extraordinaire.” He practiced leadership and relationship skills in lots of ways, including leading disgruntled people (1 Samuel 22:1-2), his friendship with the king’s son, Jonathon (1 Samuel 18, 20, etc.), and navigating an intense experience with massive unpopularity (Ziklag and 1 Samuel 30).
In general, you won’t get good at something unless you devote consistent daily attention and energy to the area where you want to improve or succeed. Here are some quotes that might encourage and motivate you to cultivate habits and routines that can lead to success.
- Practice is for Earth, and perfect is for heaven.
- “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” Abraham Lincoln
- What you repeat can predict where you succeed.
- “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks, but I do fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee
- “The secret of your success if found in your daily routine.” John Maxwell
As you think about these quotes, I want to share some helpful tips I use to work on my daily habits and routines. For starters, I’m using the “Done” app on my phone to check off things I want to do daily (flossing, writing, vitamins, etc.). I also read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear—it was really practical and encouraging! Finally, I’ve found it helpful to simplify my life to a few basic things that resonate in my soul that are important to me. I’ve done this out of the need to de-clutter my life of the “shoulds” so that I can streamline what’s essential.
With all of this being said, what have you found helpful to facilitate habits and daily routines?