Do You Keep Quitting? Start Smaller

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Growing up, the really religious kids, who loved Jesus way more than me, did devotions and read their Bibles for, like, at least an hour a day. I'm not one to back down from a challenge; I pushed myself to do the same. And I failed.

Every time.

In less than a week, I'd be so far behind that I would never catch up. So I'd throw in the towel. I quit. This cycle perpetuated itself for years. I'd gain a renewed sense of my need to be in Scripture, realize that I should be able to carve out time for God if I really loved Him, and burn out in no time.

Finally, I gave up on my grandiose designs to be a spiritual guru whom others could aspire to be like. I decided to set a goal so infinitesimally small that even I could attain such heights. I would read my Bible for five minutes a day, just one chapter, and if the chapter was too long, I'd only read part of it. I also wouldn't read on weekends.

It worked. I've been faithfully reading my Bible for well over a decade now. And I'm regularly surprised by how quickly I get through the Word. It's no yearly reading plan, but I've still gone through the Bible several times since starting this routine.

One writing coach recommends writing for just five minutes a day. Yes, it may be an embarrassingly small amount of time, but it's also doable. And simply doing something carries significant benefits.

This is also true of starting homeschooling with preschoolers. I had this picturesque idea of contently reading for hours to my little ones. Then reality hit. We wouldn't even make it through the first picture book before the child grew indifferent and wandered off.

But that was fine. Soon I would be walled in by a growing pile of books as that same child would beg me to read an unending flood of stories. Over Easter, my wife snapped a picture of me reading to my nieces who brought a similar stack of books. Eventually I had to take a break and eat more to refuel.

Story Time with Uncle Luke

Are there things you know you ought to be doing but find yourself quitting? Do you get overwhelmed when you try to start something new? Start small. Take five minutes to tidy, read, write, start a load of laundry, sketch, snap photos, put photos in an album, or whatever. Put another way: Give yourself grace. I am frequently amazed by how much I get done if I cut myself some slack. The journey of a thousand miles I start today? I don't have to finish it right now.

Perhaps your children would benefit from this lesson as well.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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