What goal could you reach if you’d take one small step a day? Can small habits really add up to big results?
Moving to Overload
I’m sitting at the kitchen table at 8 a.m. My biscuit is hot on the plate. I open my Kindle to read while I eat breakfast. I am tempted to click on my favorite book of the week, whatever that may be.
But today, instead, I click on “Samples.”
It’s the folder I set up on my Kindle to store all the Kindle samples I send myself from Amazon. When you recommend a book to me, or I see your excitement over a book on your own blog, I head to Amazon, click on “Send a free sample,” and transfer it to my Samples folder when it arrives.
And there the samples have been sitting. Piling up, one after the other.
For years I’ve been adding sample after sample to my Kindle. I would occasionally read one right away, sometimes several in a row.
But not often. And the samples kept coming.
I was adding more books to the Samples folder faster than I was eliminating them.
It was a small habit. But it was adding up to overload.
Until 2021. . .
One New Small Habit
A year ago, I had 368 samples on my Kindle.
Today, I have 89.
The smallest of things.
I made a plan at the beginning of the year. I would read two samples a day, six days a week, and clear out the Samples folder.
If I find the book quite interesting, I’ll transfer it to my Borrow folder and look it up at the library. If I find it irresistible, I’ll transfer it to my Buy folder for purchasing.
And if I don’t like the sample at all? I’ll delete it and that will be the end of it. I only have a limited amount of time left in my life to read a limited amount of books. I need to be picky.
But the decision to read two samples a day included a caveat: Read the samples before reading other books (well, not counting my daily Bible reading and my daily devotional from Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go). But the samples were to be read before library books. Before books to review. Before books I’m studying.
I’m now in Month 7. I haven’t followed the plan perfectly, of course.
Yet I’ve followed it often enough that the strategy is working. And it makes me happy.
It’s a small habit.
But small habits can create big results.
Celebrate Small Beginnings
One of my favorite Bible verses is Zechariah 4:10:
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. . . .”
Here’s the context. The Lord was sending a vision to the prophet Zechariah through an angel. The vision was assuring Zechariah that the Jewish people under Joshua and Zerubbabel would be successful in building the temple. Every obstacle would be defeated, even if only a little at a time.
I’ve had many small beginnings in my life, many small habits, many small goals I’ve wanted to reach.
And it’s usually only little by little when I succeed. The Lord stands alongside me as we go, one small step at a time.
I don’t always finish strong—and sometimes I don’t finish at all—but the Lord always rejoices to see the work begin.
Whittling down the Samples folder on my Kindle may indeed be a very small thing, but it is another reminder to me of the bigger principle:
God isn’t impressed by the smallness or largeness of my goals, but instead values my perseverance in tending to them.
Even if only little by little.
One small habit at a time.
What small habit do you keep? How has it added up? Share in the comments.
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