How to Start a New Discipline
If you want to start a new discipline don't do it by setting a goal.
Instead, aim to fall in love with the practice; as in, the act of doing it.
Start running with the aim to be a person who loves running. Tell people - I'm someone who runs! Remove the shame & guilt - that's never a sustainable motive.
Start eating healthily with the aim of being a person who loves their body. Do things throughout the day that back this belief up.
Don't aim to read 100 pages a day, aim to fall in love with reading.
Can we put things in place to help us fall in love with the practice? Absolutely. If you want to read more, do #readfor30, for example. But the aim isn't to just make it through the slog of another 30 minutes of reading, it's to fall in love with reading; for the alarm to go off after 30 minutes & for you to want to sneak another five minutes in.
Team your new discipline up with things you love. Love a bubble bath? Read in the bath. Like candles & a cup of tea? Make a tea, light your candles & get your book. Love first through association.
Disciplines should be identity-based not goal-oriented.
This way, we don't limit ourselves with a goal on a good day, & we don't discourage ourselves with unmet goals on a bad day.
Love the practice.
Here, I'll let you into my brain for a second. My mornings historically:
My alarm goes off. I've set it early so that I can get up to pray & read my Bible before work. I'm exhausted. Work is incredibly busy at the moment & any downtime I do get comes late at night & is spent mindlessly scrolling through social media. I contemplate getting up. I know it's the right thing to do. I give in. It's OK, I'll have an extra hours' sleep now & have some time with God tonight instead.
I just about make it through the day. With no mental energy left, I turn to the numbing entertainment of my phone rather than the refreshment of God. Oh dear, another day without reading my Bible. I'm a terrible Christian. I'll try again tomorrow. Morning comes & I choose the extra hour again.
Change your narrative. Ban shame. Love the practice. I now love my mornings with God. I have a cup of tea, nice breakfast, calm music. The best.