I keep having conversations that include, “I know I need to change, but I’m not sure where to start.”
It could be about Bible reading or about being a gracious person. It could be about praying or about practicing hospitality. It could be about being compassionate about an annoying but genuinely needy coworker, or about drawing lines with an exploitive acquaintance. (I’m fine with my coworkers and acquaintances, by the way. All of you.) It could be about becoming a writer or about becoming less distracted or about stopping.
We have a desire. We keep falling short.
One simple suggestion I have is to set a low standard of performance and consistently reach it.
Before you worry that I’m suggesting mediocrity, I’m pointing to the opposite. As Jim Collins says, “The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency (138).” And I’m encouraging consistency.
I’m involved in a running streak that started Memorial Day. To be part of the streak, you simply have to run at least a mile a day. That’s it. That’s the one simple rule. You can be fast or slow. You can run on the street or a treadmill. You can rule alone or with people, listening to music or to 37 the podcast.
A mile isn’t hard for me most days. A typical week for me is between 15 and 20 miles. But all that I need to do to keep the streak is alive is one mile.
You can build your capacity for graciousness by smiling at one person a day, by thanking one person a day, by biting your tongue once a day. You can build your capacity for drawing lines by saying no to someone each day.
I’m not saying that one smile a day is the finish line. One mile a day doesn’t train for marathons. But one mile, one smile, one offering of the Lord’s prayer a day is better than none. And after 100 days, is better than chronic inconsistency.