Reclaim Your Resolutions"When we establish healthy rhythms alongside our goals, we begin to fly."
We set goals in January: Exercise more, Finish school, Eat healthy.
But it’s now February and some of us feel stressed.
Goals without rhythms are like standing at an airport gate—without a ticket. We pick our destination without transportation.
But when we establish healthy rhythms alongside our goals, we begin to fly.
The Power of Rhythm
Rhythms produce beauty. In our ordinary lives, our rhythms layer practices that feed our souls and reach our goals. From simple things like making our bed every morning, to bigger rhythms like weekly routines—rhythms are powerful forces.
Four Ways Rhythms Are Powerful
1. Rhythms Shape Our Lives.
Rhythms guide our routines and decisions, which shapes our lives. If we create the rhythm of grabbing coffee with the same friend each week, our relationship deepens. If we create the rhythm of exercising Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we reach our goal for exercise. On the other hand, if we don’t create rhythms, we might lack rest, health, relationships. We create our lives by the rhythms (time and practices) we keep.
Do: Map Out Your Responsibilities. Grab a blank monthly calendar. Map out your responsibilities. Maybe it’s school, work, family. It will help you see what chunks of time you can play with.
2. Rhythms Balance Our Priorities.
Rhythms helps us choose what to include—and exclude—in our schedules. Personally, I learn toward being a workaholic. I thrive best when I’m getting things done. So, I deliberately include time in my weekly rhythm to connect with friends, spend quality time with family, worship and rest. We need spiritual, relational, physical, emotional and mental health.
Do: Assess Your Time. Pray over your calendar. How is your bigger rhythm looking? Spacious? Cluttered? Do you need to adjust your rhythms?
However, in each season of life, balanced rhythms might look different. If you’re on a team practicing for finals, your social time might shift for a season. If you are studying for an entrance exam, your family time might need adjusting.
But we must remember this: what we choose to spend our time on, forms who we become.
Do: Place Your Routines. Draft your daily routines/rhythms. This includes routines you already do (maybe a time of prayer or daily chores). It can also include rhythms you should pick up again (like weekly laundry or religious gatherings). Write them on the calendar.
3. Rhythms Reach Our Goals.
Have a big project coming up? Rhythms help us structure our days when we are focused on reaching a goal. We know what to say no to—because of the bigger yes ahead. Rhythms also help us persevere.
Do: Set Your Goals. What are your top three priorities? Write those down. Be as specific as possible.
According to legend, Thomas Edison’s mother taught him the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic because the school considered him unteachable. Historians suggest he was autistic or had ADHD. But he also had a consuming fascination with technology.
Orison Swett Marden wanted to discover the secret to Edison’s success and noted he spent more than 14 hours a day working or studying. Edison’s rhythm of life might not have looked balanced (what about his family?), but his rhythm of work and study helped him become one of the most revered inventors in modern history.
When we establish rhythms to reach our goals, we become less distracted and more effective.
Do: Allocate Space for Goals. Consider your top three goals. What rhythm (time and practice) will you commit on your calendar toward these goals? Write it down on your calendar.
4. Rhythms HELP Reduce Anxiety.
Before I discovered the power of healthy rhythms, I ended up in the hospital.
One day I sat in my college journalism class and my heart started skipping beats. My hands jittered. My breath pushed against what felt like a lead vest. Was I having a heart attack? I picked up my bag and walked out.
The ER nurse hooked me up to an EKG machine and monitored the skips in my heartbeat. Then the doctor walked in.
“Good news. You’re not having a heart attack. Bad news: Your anxiety is affecting your physical health. You need to watch your stress level and just relax.”
How do you “just relax”?
I started making lists of everything that stressed me out. I prayed over them and created a weekly rhythm that helped me reach my deadlines. As my goals changed, I adjusted my rhythm.
Do: Adjust as Needed. Rhythms are organic tools. Adjust your rhythms as needed until you find a flow that is helpful. Also, each change of season might need a change in rhythms.
Discovering this simple practice out of desperate necessity helped me see that most of my stress came from me saying “yes” too much. Once I established life rhythms, if an opportunity didn’t fit, I started saying no.
Rhythms help reduce stress because we know when we have time to attend to priorities. They also help us when we feel out of sorts because they tell us what to do next. With rhythms, everything important has a time and there is time for everything important.
What will your rhythms look like? Establishing rhythms to your day, week, month and/or year will help you reach your New Year’s resolutions. But more than that, rhythms also help shape our lives, balance our priorities and reduce anxiety.
Do: Practice, Practice, Practice. Post your monthly rhythms calendar somewhere you will use and see regularly. Maybe transfer your rhythms into digital reminders.
What will your rhythms include?
For further reflection
- Listen: The Next Right Thing Podcast
- Read: Prepare for a Purposeful New Year at SeanaScott.com
May this year become your most life-giving and goal-achieving year yet!
Seana writes and speaks to inspire others to know God’s Word, walk with God and live with purpose. She is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and her writing has been featured at Christianity Today, (in)Courage and Lifeway Research. When she’s not writing, she’s in the middle of laundry piles and grocery runs raising three kids with her husband, Jason. She’d love to connect with you at SeanaScott.com.