Strategic Habits - Start, Stop, or Pivot!

Strategic Habits – Start Stop or Pivot!

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Strategic Habits – Start Stop Or Pivot!

What habits do you need to start, stop, or pivot to reach your goal?

Note: In The Power To Change, this chapter is called Your Habit and a Plot Twist.

Often, when we try to implement positive change in our mental health, we fail because we take a trying approach. We attempt to change by exerting effort in the moment. Based on previous episodes, we now know that trying often leads to failure or burnout. We must implement a training approach that requires discipline to reach our goals. (Groeschel, 2023)

Strategic Habits

A big part of this process is identifying strategic habits that will lead us to our goal. These are specific routines or activities that, when done over time, move us closer to our objective. At times identifying these habits is easy, while other times, it might take a bit of work. Sometimes we might believe a particular habit will lead us there, but after doing the habit, something is not quite right.


The strategic habits that will lead us to our goal are not always obvious. When it comes to mental health, what works for someone else doesn’t work for another person. This can easily paralyze a person. Especially if you just tried something and it failed. Sometimes we have to start somewhere and be willing to make adjustments until we find the solution that works for us.


“What do you most need to stop doing to have what you want most?” Craig Groeschel

STOP! There are typically many things we know we need to stop doing when it comes to mental health challenges. We have habits that will not lead us to our end goal. If we aim to get more sleep, staying up past 11 pm won’t be a helpful habit. If our goal is to reduce anxiety, ruminating on all the worst-case scenarios won’t help us find peace.

Goal: Reduce baseline anxiety level by getting more sleep.

Habit to start: Keep a basic sleep log to monitor the amount and quality of sleep.

Habit to stop: staying up past 11 pm each night.

Pivot: The sleep log was not working because I did not allow enough extra time in my morning routine and put it off until later in the day. By the time I got to it, I would forget the details. My pivot was to get up ten minutes earlier to allow plenty of time in my morning routine.

The end of the matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Ecclesiastes 7:8


Sometimes, a person is taking positive steps to reach a goal, but they are not working. Does this mean we need to start from scratch? NO. Sometimes, we misunderstand everything that needs to occur to reach a particular goal. We start a habit, but maybe we go about it the wrong way. It might be time to pivot.

According to Merriam-Webster, a pivot is “an adjustment or modification made (as to a product, service, or strategy) in order to adapt or improve.” Sometimes, we try to improve our mental health, and the ideas we implement fall flat.


The start, stop, and pivot processes can be tricky when aiming for specific outcomes. We know that behavior modification alone won’t lead to any lasting change in our mental health. Lasting change requires personal transformation. This transformation comes through realizing who we want to become, not merely fixing behaviors.

What Frequently Happens

We want certain life changes, so we set a goal and try hard to make it happen. When things don’t happen the way we want them to or as fast as we want them to, we get discouraged and quit. We try again later only to remember our past failures. The cycle continues and often results in a person believing this is how I am. (Groeschel, 2023)

Consider The Cost

Setting a goal is easy when comparing it to what it will take to reach that goal. Our brains are wired to crave a win or sense of achievement. If you are a list person, you probably feel some satisfaction as you check tasks off your list. For you, the win is marking an item off your list.

When Shiny Things Grow Dull

One of the most challenging things about reaching a goal is the time between setting the goal and crossing the finish line. Specifically, it is right after the newness wears off for your shiny goal. That’s when it gets difficult. The new habit or routine is routine, boring, or blah.

You have not seen any positive results in the process, and it is easy to get discouraged. So what do you do?

Plot Twist

“You win when you make doing your habit your win.” Craig Groeschel

“If you make doing the habit your win, you can win every day.” Craig Groeschel


Earlier in the notes, I provided an example of a goal and then a habit to start, stop, and pivot. Below, I want you to complete the same exercise.

Repeat the exercise as many times as you need.

Here’s a reminder of one of the examples:

Goal: Get closer to God. Habit to start: Reading the Bible daily or attending a small-group Bible study.

Habit to stop: hitting snooze in the morning or planning things on the weekend that prevent church attendance.

Pivot: I was not finding success trying to read my Bible in the kitchen during breakfast. Instead, I’ll move outside to the covered porch for a quieter environment.



Habit to start:

Habit to stop:


Complete the following sentence.

When I have an off day or a time where I don’t win, I commit to [blank] to stay on track:

Example: Tell my accountability partner so I do not miss more than one day.


“Make doing your habit your win.” Craig Groeschel

“You don’t have to win every day to win.” Craig Groeschel

The end of the matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Ecclesiastes 7:8


Groeschel, C. (2023). The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Zondervan.


Hello and welcome to The Overflow Podcast. My name is Craig Booker. The title of this episode

is Strategic Habits – Start Stop or Pivot. A lot of the
material for this week’s episode

was inspired  by Pastor Craig Rochelle’s book The Power to
Change Mastering the Habits that Matter Most.

Note: I will talk a lot about mental health but
please note this is not a substitute for therapy

or mental health care. I am not a counselor or
a physician if you need help with mental health

challenges please find a qualified mental health
professional. One thing to note this chapter in his

book is titled, Your Habit and a Plot Twist. That’s fine, I just adapted it for what I believe is more

appropriate for mental health and that’s
why I changed the title for our purposes

but it’s very similar to what he lists just want
to make that clear where I’m at and what in the

book in case you’re trying to read or follow
along at some point all right what habits do

you need to start stop or pivot to reach your goal
like whatever that is that’s a question I’ll start

with and it’ll make more sense as I get going
often when we try to implement positive change

in our mental health we fail because we take a
trying approach we attempt to change by exerting

effort in the moment based on our previous
episodes or we know that trying often leads

to failure or burnout and we must Implement a
training approach that requires discipline to

reach our goals that’s a summary of several weeks
it’s not all that simple I’m just trying to give

a high level view of things that we’ve learned
we’ve talked about the differences between trying

and training and I won’t go into detail about that
but you can go back to YouTube and review those if

you’d like this week we’re going to talk talking
about strategic habits you know a big part of the

process of us trying to improve ourselves
is not just exerting effort in the moment

um so a big part of this process is identifying
strategic habits that will lead us to our goal I

may have a goal of ultimately trying to get better
sleep reduce my anxiety so I’m trying to improve

the quality of my sleep with a long-term objective
of lowering my anxiety if that’s the context right

my strategic habit might be trying to go to bed
at 10 pm every night right and that may be my

strategic habit that’s just an example and every
night I’m going to do my best to get there by 10

pm and so that’s the Habit the goal is I want
to reduce my anxiety by improving my sleep but

a lot of times we like we set a goal and it’s it
seems real big and far off in the distance and it

is any goal that we set should require why are a
lot of us right it should be a big step or we’re

probably playing it safe a little bit so if I’m
trying to reduce my anxiety and I’m going to try

to do that by getting better sleep my strategic
habit may start off as simple as I’m going to do

my best to get to bed by 10 pm every night and
I’m gonna get up at the same time every morning

maybe that’s 7 A.M so maybe that’s my strategic
habit I’m just trying to do that every day as

much as I can so you know this will apply to any
other situation you just got to figure out what

your your big overarching goal is we have to learn
how we know when we reach that goal and we talked

about that as defining our win that’s how we know
when we’re being successful but we also need the

steps between here and our goal to get us there
and that’s our strategic habit and usually in what

Pastor Craig says in his book is you know to focus
on one don’t try to do everything all at once or

you’ll get exhausted or tired or experienced
burnout and you just won’t get anywhere you’ll

just end up frustrated start simple and do one
right and he talks about habits start and stop

if we’re starting a habit it’s something new
and so that’s why we don’t want to start in

most cases multiple new habits at once because
we’ll spread ourselves too thin and we’ll burn

out so we may start one which mine in that case
might be getting to bed by 10 pm getting up by 7

A.M every day and so that’s the one that I want to
start so that’s my example for this we’ll use that

here but you know sometimes it’s a big part of it
is just identifying what these strategic habits

are for our situation what habits are going to
help us get to our end goal and sometimes that’s

not easy sometimes it’s really plain and simple
depending on your goal but sometimes it takes a

little bit to figure those out and so sometimes we
might believe that a particular habit is going to

get us to our goal but after we start it and and
start working through that habit it just doesn’t

work it’s not going to get us to our goal and
we finally see that once we start doing it so I

talked about start the Strategic habits that will
lead us to our goal are not always obvious when it

comes to mental health what works for someone
else might not work for another person this

can easily paralyze a person especially if you’ve
tried something and it fails and just after that

you may relate to this that feeling that you have
you’re just really just I don’t know it’s like you

want to grip something you just don’t want to try
something right now you don’t feel safe sometimes

we have to start somewhere and be willing to make
adjustments until we find the solution that works

for us this is stuff that I’ve added that was not
in his book let me be clear about this okay his

book is really pretty straightforward on all this
material but this is specifically about mental

health and like I said what works for you know
your friend or your cousin or whoever may not work

for you and you shouldn’t be discouraged when that
happens you know someone would tell me and they

would say oh so and so tried this and it really
worked for them for their anxiety and I would go

off and try whatever it was and it would just fail
miserably and I would feel like there’s something

wrong with me and that’s just not true it just
doesn’t work for everybody so I made adjustments

to this material to add this in because it’s
really important because you can get really

discouraged we’re also going to work on something
that we’re going to stop like we’re going to stop

a habit that we’re doing right now that’s not
helping us quote from Craig Rochelle what do you

most need to stop doing to have what you want most
and I apply this to mental health this material

is so broad it can apply to a lot of areas there
there are typically many things we know we need

to stop doing when it comes to mental health
challenges we have habits that will not lead

us to our end goal if we aim to get more sleep
staying up past 11 pm won’t be a helpful habit if

our goal is to reduce anxiety ruminating or just
just of Cecily going over all of the worst case

scenarios in our life are not going to help us
find peace these are habits that I’ve seen in my

life and that’s why I’m pointing them out that are
not helpful they’re not going to help me get there

if my goal is to reduce my anxiety and if my if
I’m going to do that through sleep staying up to

all hours of the night are really going to make it
difficult for me to reach my goal I’m typically a

nighttime person and so that’s very easy for me to
do my brain kind of wakes up at night time and I

just kind of see it as this time when people in my
you know my household are asleep and it’s peaceful

and I can get more done or I can watch the show
I want to watch on TV whatever it is right but

that does not help me towards my goal it’s really
difficult and it requires discipline for me to say

I’m gonna go to bed and get in bed at a certain
time if my stop goal is I’m going to stop staying

up past 11 pm that would be a stop that I’m gonna
try to do to help me you move forward okay so we

have our start and maybe my start I said was
going to go to bed by 10 pm and get up at 7

A.M so we have that and we have the stop which is
stop staying up past 11 p.m so on you know on the

weekends it’s kind of tempting to stay up a little
bit later at least for me but everything that I’ve

read is that I need to keep a consistent sleep
schedule that means that Friday and Saturday I’m

going to bed at very similar time as my weekdays
that’s a little bit of a challenge for me so if

we’re gonna I talk about in the notes reducing
Baseline anxiety level by getting more sleep I

believe I’ve talked in the past it wasn’t on video
about Baseline anxiety levels and so I want to be

clear on what that means Baseline anxiety level
we all have it and this is my idea this is not

Pastor Craig this is not someone else I’ve read I
just came up with this over years of dealing with

fear and anxiety so Baseline anxiety level is the
level of anxiety that’s kind of under my skin all

throughout the day just how I’m feeling at the
moment sometimes I I communicate this to my wife

so she understands hey my Baseline anxiety is
really high right now so if I communicate that

with her she knows that if she tries to ask
something of me that causes my anxiety she’s

probably not gonna get the response she wants you
know our Baseline anxiety level there are a lot

of things that goes in you know what that level
is and a part of that is how much sleep and the

quality of sleep you get every day and I’ve talked
about this but it’s new information for several

so I want to make sure and capture this and not
just throw a term out there and not explain myself

Baseline anxiety level like I said is what you’re
feeling kind of underneath the surface throughout

your day it can be affected by the quality of your
sleep or the amount of sleep it can be affected by

what you eat or drink could be affected by events
that are going on in your life you can’t largely

control those events can’t stop doing life
but there are things that you can do to affect

your Baseline anxiety level and sleep is one of
the biggest ones you know sometimes like if my

Baseline anxiety level gets really high during the
day I can do things to lower that like get outside

and take a walk I can do things like maybe read a
book maybe write my thoughts in a journal there’s

a lot of things that you can do to lower that my
goal is reducing Baseline anxiety level by getting

more sleep my Habit to start you know hear my
notes I said maybe I’m going to keep a basic sleep

log to monitor the amount and quality of my sleep
I’ve actually been doing this I’m not just using

this as an example could say I’ve been in training
for my sleep probably almost two years now trying

to improve I’ve been in training and I’ve been
looking at this and I use different tools to

track my sleep every night and then I you know I
look at it the next day I keep it in my journal

and over time I can look at things I can look
at this data data and it helps me make decisions

about my health so this is not something I mean
you can start it and I’ve recommended several

people to do it for a few weeks because it’s a big
commitment something like this where you have like

maybe a journal or notepad where you keep note of
when you went to bed when you got up how you felt

quality of your sleep did you toss and turn all
night that’s the idea here that my Habit to stop

I said was staying up past 11 each night so these
are the practical examples of start stop and pivot

pivot I said the Sleep log was not working because
I did not allow enough extra time in the morning

in my morning routine and I put it off until later
in the day by the time I got to it I would forget

the details my Pivot was to get up 10 minutes
earlier to allow plenty of time in my morning

routine giving myself more time in the morning so
I can accomplish this sleep log now you’re like

okay that seems kind of counterproductive you’re
trying to get more sleep but you’re going to get

up earlier to kind of offset this I may have to go
to bed 10 minutes earlier but this is my example

in this example trying to do a basic sleep log
every day and I tried to do it and I just kept

getting frustrated because I would be rushed in
the morning because I was sleepy trying to get

ready for my day I didn’t get it done I forgot
to get it done I felt shame for not doing it put

it off till later in my day and then when I sit
down to do it later in my day I don’t remember the

times or how I felt and you can see how this could
lead to shame discouragement but it’s wrong all I

need to do is Pivot and you know you may figure
out that what you start with doesn’t quite work

and you need to adjust it to see what works and
that’s what this pivot is we’re going to identify

a start habit a stop habit and then sometimes
we’re going to need to Pivot Ecclesiastes 7 8 says

the end of the matter is better than its beginning
and patience is better than Pride under pivot some

times a person is taking positive steps to reach
a goal but they they’re not working does this mean

that we need to start from scratch no sometimes
we misunderstand everything that’s that needs to

occur to reach our particular goal we start a
habit but maybe go about it the wrong way and

that’s when it’s just time to Pivot and according
to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary a pivot is an

adjustment or modification made as to a product
service or strategy in order to adapt or improve

and that’s what we’re looking to do we’re looking
to adapt and improve Define what works sometimes

we try to improve our mental health and the ideas
we Implement fall flap and that’s where I say that

it’s easy to get discouraged it’s easy to lose our
motivation and we can’t do this in our own power

we can’t good luck if you can more power to you I
can’t and I bet more people are like me than the

people that have it all together and can do it on
their own so we’re going to need seek God for his

strength and his power to keep going at this as
we’re going through our training and we’re trying

this new habit we’re trying to stop other habits
we’re making adjustments when we pivot we’re gonna

need to seek God through this whole process God
this is not working show me new ideas to try in

this scenario that may improve what I’m trying
to accomplish God I’m just out of strength I I

just don’t want to do this anymore these are real
conversations that I hope you’re having with God

when you’re going through this process because
he can handle it he wants us to find Freedom he

doesn’t want us to stay stuck where we’re at
so he welcomes these conversations the start

stop and pivot process can be tricky when we’re
aiming for certain outcomes we know that behavior

modification alone won’t lead to anything lasting
any lasting changes in our mental health lasting

changes require personal transformation this
transformation comes through realizing who we

want to become not merely fixing behave behaviors
this content is a summary of what Pastor Greg

talks about okay we’re not going to make just
surface level changes we’re going to become who

God is calling us to be we talked about our who
not do that’s what Pastor Craig refers it refers

to it as is we’re going to focus on who we’re
becoming not just what we’re trying to do what

frequently happens is we want certain life changes
so we we set a goal and try hard to make it happen

when things don’t happen the way we want them to
or as fast as we want them to we get discouraged

and quit we try again later only to remember our
past failures and the cycle continues and often

results in a person believing this is just who I
am this is how I’m going to be for the rest of my

life I’ve said that to myself because I felt these
things I’ve gone at it this way we know that using

a trying approach is exerting effort at the moment
is not enough before we try to make change in our

life we need to consider the cost and Now setting
a goal is easy when we compare it to what it will

take to reach that goal our brains are wired to
crave a win or some sort of sense of achievement

and for example if you’re a person that likes to
keep lists like to track things they need to do

you probably feel some sort of satisfaction as you
check those tasks off your list for you the win is

marking an item off your list like something
happens in your brain you get a little hit of

dopamine when you mark something off your list
and you’re like oh that feels so good to mark

that off my list likewise we need that reward
when we’re trying going through this habit and

our goal seems way out there in the distance
we need these little rewards along the way so

we can keep going I don’t know about you but I
need that I need to see that I’m making progress

that things are changing because what I’m doing is
hard so we we have to figure out what our win is

and you know when we’re talking about okay we have
our goal and our goal seems way out there in the

future and so we’re creating this strategic habit
and we need those short-term wins as we get closer

to our goal what this looks like is we make doing
our habit our win and this is something Pastor

Craig talks about in his book he says make doing
your habit your win and you can win every day if

we focus just merely on the outcomes right like
reducing for me reducing anxiety if I just focus

on that that’s really far out there and it’s
going to take me a long time to get there but

I can do my habit today and that’s a win and I
can feel that sense of achievement by completing

my habit because what I what we know is that if
you keep doing your habit then eventually you’ll

get to your goal said when shiny things grow dull
one of the most challenging things about reaching

a goal is like the time between setting the goal
crossing the Finish Line specifically it’s right

after that new newness wears off right you set
the goal you come up with this habit you’re all

really excited about the new routine and about
the progress you’re gonna make you start doing

that habit for a little while the newness starts
to wear off it’s not quite as shiny as it was and

attractive as it was anymore because you haven’t
seen any positive results yet so you’re just doing

all of these extra things that are really hard and
you’re not seeing any progress yet and it’s really

difficult this is when it’s really easy to quit
you know if you’re you’re trying to get in better

shape or lose weight this is when most people quit
the routine is no longer new it’s not exciting you

forget why maybe you started this it’s like I’m
just gonna sleep in today Pastor Craig says you

win when you make doing your habit your win if you
make doing the Habit your win you can win every

day so the goals that we’re setting are far off in
the future they’re kind of out there they’re lofty

goals when it comes to our mental health it really
seems lofty to say I’m going to reduce my anxiety

because you may have lived with this anxiety for
years and so it seems big it seems challenging

so if we you know set up these strategic habits
we make doing our habit our our win we can feel

that sense of achievement every day or every time
we’re completing that habit I listed in the notes

and exercise this exercise kind of goes back to
earlier in my notes where I listed uh something

a goal a habit to start a habit to stop and then
a pivot here’s just another example that Craig

Rochelle provided in his book maybe your goal is
get closer to God the Habit to start is read the

Bible daily or attend a small group Bible study
Habit to stop is hitting snooze in the morning

or or planning things on the weekend that prevent
Church attendance so the pivot here is let’s say

I’ve tried all these things I was not finding
success trying to read my Bible in the kitchen

during breakfast time maybe there’s too much
noise kids are going around maybe you have a

spouse that’s walking around it’s just hard too
hard to focus maybe instead my Pivot will be I’ll

move outside to my porch and sit on my porch where
it’s quieter where I can hopefully focus better

and see if that makes the difference okay so this
exercise is just identifying your goal your Habit

to start your Habit to stop and if that doesn’t
work down the line recognizing when you need to

Pivot don’t just keep doing it if it’s not working
that’s probably one of the worst things you can do

is if you recognize this stuff is not working
make changes so that’s the exercise feel free

to do that on your own time during your week if
you want to communicate that with me I would love

to hear it over email feel free if you want to
share it with me and talk about it happy to do

so but that is the exercise and you can do this as
many times as you need for whatever you’re trying

to change also it says complete the following
sentence when I have an off day or a time when

I don’t win I commit to do blank to stay on track
so we’re going through this process with these new

habits what do I do failed to do my habit one
thing you could do is tell an accountability

partner so you don’t miss more than one day maybe
today you have a bad day you get up everything’s

hectic you’re trying to read the Bible but
it’s really noisy in the kitchen because kids

are trying to get off to school or whatever the
situation is you don’t read your Bible you can’t

focus and you just feel like a failure like what
do you do if you don’t want tomorrow to be the

same tile your accountability partner maybe they
can send you a text message in the morning maybe

they can text you the night before maybe they
pray for you and they text in a prayer to you

so the principle for this chapter is make doing
your habit your win right you don’t have to win

every day to win Ecclesiastes 7 8 the end of the
matter is better than its beginning and patience

is better than Pride I mentioned here you don’t
have to win every day to win Greg Rochelle goes in

detail here that it’s not about being per perfect
it’s not about perfectly performing your habit or

this process it’s about doing it consistently so
if you’re doing your habit more days each week

then you’re not you’re winning say you do your
habit four days a week but three days it just

doesn’t happen you’re winning you see that because
if you’re anything like me you would see that as

failure man I didn’t do this habit three days this
week and you might start talking negatively to

yourself because that’s what we tend to do and
it’s easy to get caught up in that and quit so

this is a little bit of a perspective shift if
we’re doing our habit more times each week than

we’re not we’re winning every time we do our habit
we’re winning we have to change our perspective I

have to change my perspective I hope that you can
see the shift there it’s not about doing every

day perfect because I don’t know anybody that’s
going to be able to do that it’s about progress

can you see that what I’m presenting here is
really hard I don’t want to gloss over that

you know this is really hard stuff that’s all
for this episode thank you for watching if you

like the video give us a thumbs up and be sure to
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Show Notes

Episode Description

In this episode, we discuss strategic habits. This is part of a study inspired by The Power To Change by Craig Groeschel. Each week, I take concepts from Pastor Craig Groeschel’s book, The Power To Change, and apply them to brain health.


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Groeschel, C. (2023). The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Zondervan.

Last updated on: 02/03/2024

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