Getting My Priorities Straight

By Catiana Nak Kheiyn

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What's your motivation?

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of developing a new good discipline is discovering our true motivations. I'm not talking about the pretty, sugar-coated, politically-correct motivations we post in a status. No, I mean the real motivation behind the desire.

If I am honest, one of the main reasons I want to exercise is because I am sick of my body. It doesn't always do what I want it to do, and it certainly doesn't look the way I want it to. But will this motivation drive me when I'm feeling tired or discouraged? Unlikely. It's too negative to start with and will only feed unhappiness with self-pity.

Years ago, a dear friend and I used to work out together three or four times a week, and we did great. But schedules and life situations changed, and we both fell back into old habits. In recent days, she has been growing into a 5K runner — something she never thought possible. Here's what she discovered about her motivations:
My goal is not what I used to think it was. Any time I would work out, my goal was to be thin, to then be considered beautiful. I know a lot of girls have this problem. I am still one of them. But that is not my goal. Now, that's just a perk that is slowly fading into the back of my mind.

I was stuck in a box of my own design earlier this year. [The box] told me that I couldn't run. That I was stupid for even trying. That I looked ridiculous. That I would never see change.

That box is gone now! I can run. I did 5+ miles in one day! I'm not stupid. I've gotten smarter about my body and my eating. It doesn't matter how I look. I know I look sweaty, dirty, and red-faced — that's because I am running a race!
This girl. I am so proud of her, and she positively inspires me.

2 Ingredients for Self-Discipline

Once we have our priorities straight and proper motivations in place, it's time to pull out two major tools: dedication and accountability.

Dedication. If you personally do not want to do something, it's just not going to happen. You must have the willingness and resolve to follow through — at least enough to take the first steps. Until you have fully convinced yourself that you will go forward, you won't. And that is probably the hardest part to get down, and definitely the hardest part to maintain.

It's too easy to say "This is the last time" or "I'll start tomorrow." But then every time becomes the "last time" or tomorrow never comes. Sure, I want to get up and walk the dog before everyone wakes up, but I want another 45 minutes of sleep a lot more. Indeed it is true that while the spirit may be willing, the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).

Accountability. Once you have become fully determined to do something, you need a trusted, reliable friend who will hold you accountable on those days when you forget your previously adamant resolutions. Those days will assuredly come, but an accountability partner can encourage you to remember your initial goals and help you persevere.

Better yet, find someone who desires the same goal as you for themselves, then you can be partners on the road to self-discipline. As long as you both don't flake out on the same day, it could be an excellent way to challenge each other to stay the course. My running friend was a wonderful co-supporter when it was all I could do to drag myself to the gym day after day.

When it comes down to it, when the rubber hits the road, we've got to stick to our resolutions in those tiny moments of the day when we're faced with a choice: do it or don't. Don't say "I'll read my Bible later," just do it now. Don't say "I'll invite my hurting friend to dinner sometime," just make that commitment now. Don't say "I'll get up tomorrow to take a walk," just go for a walk right now. Just do it, and do it now.

I feel like I'm preaching to myself even as I write this. Hmm... I'd better go take a stroll around the building. May God strengthen the resolve in all our hearts to change for the better, and may He do it now.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." —Philippians 4:13

Image Credit: Rachel Selk; "Don't Give Up"; By Permission.

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Christian-Life  |  Health-Wellness  |  Personal-Life

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Published 9-17-14