Read: Luke 14:25-33
• Knowing your destination makes the journey clear
• Messiness is the price of admission for change
Imagine the last time you cleaned out the junk drawer. To organize, you make a mess. First, you remove all the crap in the drawer. Then, you sort it into piles - office, pens/pencils, sticky notes, trash, bathroom, garage, giveaway, etc. (My favorite is the one of stuff that you have no idea what it is or when you’ll ever use it, but you keep it… just in case). Then, you either throw it away, return it to the drawer, send it to a new home, or move it to a junk room. Often, you also redesign the drawer as you figure out a better organization method than last time.
You don’t begin organizing unless you have time to go through the make-a-mess-to-organize process. Or you avoid organizing because of the accumulating mess until you can’t open the drawer and are forced to deal with it.
But the end result of a tidy, spacious, functional junk drawer always comes through the mess. It never happens without it.
The same is true in your life.
Growth is like the junk drawer in need of organization. To get control of your eating, exercise, and self-care habits, you must go through a similar process of making-a-mess-to-organize.
You’ve got to pull out and sort all the beliefs, behaviors, emotions, and triggers that cause you to overeat, devour sugar, and go for the couch instead of go for a run. You keep the ones that help and discard the ones that don’t. You’ll also hang on to some that need to go, but you just aren’t ready to part with yet.
Finally, you need to design the end result. What are you doing when you’re in control that you aren’t doing now? What specific habits, behaviors, & thoughts will you participate in when you feel confident, alive, and rock your best body?
This is the most difficult step because you’ve got to think differently than you think now, but when you do this work, you de-mystify progress and turn it into a project with clear parameters, starting points, and end points.
You have the map, you know what direction to go, and you know exactly when you arrive.
In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey’s first habit is to “Begin with the end in mind.” Much happiness, satisfaction, and peace is lost to people failing to honor this step. If you’re anything like me, you’re an “act first, ask for forgiveness later” kind of person who jumps into the deep end to figure out out to swim. While this is an effective means of learning, if you feel like you’re on the hamster wheel of always trying but never arriving on your weight loss efforts, it’s time for a new approach.
Effective women - those whose lives are guided by God’s spirit, whose work feels purposeful, and who make progress instead of travel in circles - “begin with the end in mind.” Today, you’re going to decide what your end is, and tomorrow, you’re going to learn all about the two mindsets that guide our lives.
Jesus shares the famous line in Luke, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple,” but he doesn’t stop there.
“For which of you desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
(How often have you started a new diet or exercise program, only to fall off track and not be able to get back on?)
“Or what king going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet whim who comes against hims with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.”
(The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. Starting a diet or exercise program at the wrong time, like when you’re stressed with work, family, and social commitments all at once, is self-sabotage in a nutshell. Timing is everything.)
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Have you counted the cost?
Counting the cost is the same as beginning with the end in mind. We are called to count the cost with our commitment to God. A life of discipleship is no easy thing. It asks us to be willing to let go of everything, even our closest family relationships, to follow God. In the world in which Jesus lived, community was king. Family was everything. Separation from family meant death.
Jesus is saying, “This is the cost. If you aren’t down with that, don’t even bother.”
Losing weight, eating well, regularly exercising, and practicing self-care also incurs costs. On one hand, you’re trading time, but on another, you’re trading mindsets, you’re trading habits, and you’re trading the comfort you know with your current lifestyle for the discomfort of learning a new way of living.
There are always costs. And change is messy, but messiness is the price of admission.
This is the cost of creating real change in your life. If you’re not down with that, own it, and get on with your life. I assure you that you’ll be much happier. But if you’re on board with this cost, accept it, embrace it, and ask…
How do you begin with the end in mind?
Today you’re picking an end. Not THE end. An end. A realistic starting place you can tweak as you grow along. So don’t freak out and bounce out because endings are scary and permanent. There’s no wrong answer. Also, you can go through this process for every area you want to address.
Here are the steps:
1. Pick the area you want to change.
2. Decide the end.
3. Accept the cost
Let’s apply these three steps to a real world example - healthy eating (step one).
Step Two: You have some ideal in your head of what life is like when you’re healthy, happy, and vibrant. What are you doing then that you aren’t now?
Often you first only know the negative - what you aren’t doing. You aren’t snacking on junk. You aren’t mindlessly eating your kids’ dinner and your own. You aren’t eating ice cream. Write all these down in a list. They are a valuable starting place, but they aren’t the end.
Here’s the tricky part, what are you doing if you’re eating healthy?
What is eating healthy (insert your habit)?
Eating healthy means not eating junk, like Peanut M&M’s, every day.
Not relying on convenient foods - like protein powders, peanut butter, and cheese - when I’m at home but don’t feel like cooking.
So what is eating healthy?
Eating home-cooked protein and veggies when I am at home.
How much protein and veggies per day would you consider eating healthy?
2-3 meals that consist of high quality protein plus 1-2 veggies per meal > 2-3 servings of high quality protein + 3-6 servings of veggies per day.
So what does healthy eating mean?
Healthy eating means consuming 2-3 servings of high quality protein + 3-6 servings of veggies each day.
So what needs to happen to do this every day?
A food system + batch cooking 1-2 days a week to make sure there are always options in the fridge when I don’t feel like cooking.
Re-read the above. Notice healthy eating is no longer arbitrary, but a clear, concise end point that I KNOW when I get there. When I’m eating 2-3 servings of protein + 3-6 servings of veggies each day, I feel like a rock star. When I don’t eat that many veggies, I feel icky.
Also be aware that healthy eating may mean something different for you and that’s okay. This needs to fit in your life right now.
Step Three: Do you notice the cost in the above example? For me, batch cooking 2 days a week + a food system, which means a bit of time and forethought to ensure I have the ingredients on hand to make what I need.
The cost would also include moments of foregoing my normal pleasure of grabbing something quick to walk to the fridge and heat up something. Around these moments are great places to build new “habit loops.”
Step Four: Knowing the clear end means knowing exactly how to get there. Now I can count exactly how many veggies I currently eat per day and know exactly how many to increase this by each day to reach my end.
“Beginning with the end in mind” begins our study of Adopting a holy mindset this week. Until you know where you are going, you don’t know how to get there. Counting the cost helps you think through your destination and accept the costs or say they aren’t worth it. Digging deeper and deeper into what the end you looks, feels, thinks, and behaves de-mystifies the path to get there. Then you begin with sure footing, knowing each and every step takes you closer to your destination.
No more guesswork. No more confusion.