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 Groeshel’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 Groeschel 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’s. 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 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 me 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. You 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 Craig 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 Craig Groeschel 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 subscribe so you don’t miss out on future episodes