Friday, February 24, 2017

What I learned in 2016- a story of perseverance

It's a little late in the year to start a resolution. It's also, perhaps, a little late in the year to reflect back on what I learned in 2016.

Yet, I'm doing both.

I've started three new 30 day challenges- one for writing, one for yoga, and one for Bible study. The story goes that you need only 21 days to develop new habits. I don't think this is quite true, as I've read research that points to a much longer timeline, but I need a starting point. I need an official challenge. I need to start with 30 days, and then do another 30 days, and then another.

It's all in an effort to teach myself perseverance.

Perseverance has been my word of the year since February of 2015, which is exactly 2 years ago. I chose this word because I realized I had trouble sticking to learning anything long term. I gave up quickly when something got hard or inconvenient.

I also realized, by watching my husband work extremely hard day after day, that perseverance is the only way to accomplish big things. He's the hardest working, most accomplished man I know, and he does it through sheer grit and determination.

Perseverance is significant for me, not just because I’ve seen it serve my husband well, but also because I want to be someone that doesn’t give up easily. I want to be courageous and strong, able to accomplish big goals that have to be chipped away over time.

Perseverance is also vitally important to me because I believe God has called me to do great things, and these missions he has laid on my heart can only be accomplished with perseverance.

At first, this scared me, like Moses in Exodus 4:10, “Moses said to the LORD, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’” I thought, “No way. You’ve got the wrong Christian here, God. Find someone more equipped.”

I knew these dreams would take a lot of work over a long time, and I knew well that I was not cut out for it, yet, I wanted to be. I desired to follow God’s plan for my life.

So, throughout the year of 2015, I started working on perseverance. I would get going on a new project or start developing a new habit, and then I’d get distracted and quit. Then, I’d get inspired again, start over, and history would repeat. I was so frustrated.

My first instinct is to research when something is not working. I read about how others do it and try to implement the techniques into my own life.

I started researching motivation, goals, perseverance, and consistency. I took notes and tried new techniques. Some worked well, and others were a disaster.

So, as 2015 passed into 2016, I decided I wasn't quite done focusing on perseverance. I had just started fully understanding what it takes to set goals and persevere.

Throughout last year, 2016, I made real progress. I finished a couch to 5k, blogged more consistently, and learned how to make some delicious recipes.

Yet, I was still inconsistent and had trouble sticking to projects. Motivation is a huge barrier for me.

Therefore, perseverance is also my word for 2017.

So far this year it's permeating its way into all aspects of my life, from growing my hair out (quite possibly the most trying of all perseverance exercises) to developing a writing practice.

I am persevering through my writing, my exercise regime, in the kitchen where I’m learning new recipes and skills, and to accomplish projects on my house and blog.

I’ve finally found my stride with perseverance.

It’s becoming something I rely on, enjoy, and find great meaning in. I have learned that motivation is not something that matters when you have a goal.

I don’t need to feel inspired or motivated to write, cook, exercise, or blog. I simply have to do it. I have show up, grind through it, and make progress.

Some days, the progress is tremendous. Other days I am only able to take one small step.

I’ve learned that some days, showing up and working on my goal is just as important as making progress. Developing habits, creating practices, and establishing systems to work within, are all important parts of learning perseverance.

I’m not done working on perseverance, and I might not be for a long time. That’s the point though, isn’t it? To persevere, even through the storms, the draught, and the sunny days too. To find myself in the battle, and to know that the struggle and the striving for something great is what makes me worthy of the greatness I can achieve at the end.

Daily, I have to choose to not give up. I have to continually hone my perseverance. I have to show up, every day, and give it heck, even when I don’t feel like it.

By the grace of God, I hope to achieve all he has laid out for me to do, with the strength he provides and the opportunities he affords and the struggles he allows. He doesn’t say it will be easy. In fact, no one that has been a follower of Christ has had it easy, but he does say he’ll be by our sides through it all.

God is worthy of our efforts, his plans are holy and therefore, our perseverance can be too. Praise God for big dreams and the perseverance we have to learn to accomplish them!

Perseverance means a lot to me and has helped me become a better version of myself for the glory of God. What areas of your life do you need a boost of perseverance? Do you have a word of the year, and what does it mean to you?