It’s easy to be a good boy or good girl once in awhile.
It’s easy to love your spouse once in awhile. (Even a drunk wife-beating husband who maintains 3 girlfriends can love his wife once in a while.)
It’s easy to eat your veggies once in awhile.
It’s easy to stop smoking once in awhile.
It’s easy to come to a prayer meeting like the Feast once in awhile.
But if you want massive changes in your life, you’ve got to do it all the time. The Bible says, And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Success, after all, is all about patterns.
Create Patterns Of Success
Do you have to succeed in your life?
If you want success, you need to create Patterns of Success. Habits. Rituals. Almost non-thinking, second nature, repeated behavior.
If you want to be happier in your life, you’ve got to create Patterns of Happiness.
If you want to be healthy in your body, you’ve got to create Patterns of Health.
If you want more love in your relationships, you’ve got to create Patterns of Love.
Here’s a fact: According to research, 90% of our behaviors are patterns. Habits. Rituals. Ninety percent!
You Can’t Help But Win
Here’s the good news. If you create Patterns of Success, it’ll be very difficult not to succeed. You can’t help but win. Even if you tried losing, it won’t be easy.
Example? I was reading about Larry Bird.
Larry Bird is in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the best shooters in basketball history.
One day, Larry was doing a television commercial.
The director told him, “Larry, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take a shot and miss.”
Larry said, “Sure!”
“Lights, Camera, Action!” the production assistant shouts.
Larry takes the ball, throws it into the air, and it goes straight into the ring. “Oops,” Larry says, “Sorry!”
“It’s okay,” the Director says, “Miss the shot this time, Larry. Take 2!”
“Lights, Camera, Action!” the man with the clapper hollers again.
Larry grabs the ball, looks up, and shoots… and the ball goes in again. “Oh no,” he says, “I really am very sorry.
“Take three!” the Director shouts again.
Guess what. On the third try, Larry drills it in again.
This is astounding: It took Larry 15 takes before he finally missed a shot.
Why? Because for the past 30 years, Larry had a Pattern of shooting that ball in. His conscious mind was telling him, “Miss the shot!” But his subconscious mind was telling his entire body, “Shoot it in!” And most of the time, the subconscious mind wins.
I read something amazing. For years, after each team practice, Larry Bird would stay behind. When all the players were gone, he’d shut off the lights in the court. And in semi-darkness, he’d shoot for thirty more minutes.
Let me repeat: When you have a Pattern of Success, it’ll be very difficult not to succeed in life.
Focus On Your Magic 20%
And the great thing about success is that it doesn’t involve a humongous list of habits.
Remember the Pareto Principle? 20% of causes produce 80% of the results.
So here’s how to change your life: Focus on the Magic 20% of habits that produce 80% of the results you desire.
I’ve found this true in my life. If you want to be successful in any area of your life, it really boils down to three or four habits only in each of area.
Let me give you three examples from my life…
To make my wife happy, I’ve found out that it comes down to 3 habits only. How did I discover these 3 habits? I deciphered her love language. (Note: What I am about to explain is my wife’s love language. Your spouse may have a totally different love language—and so you’ll have a different list of 3 habits than mine.)
When I wrote my goal “to be a great husband,” it was such a daunting dream. It seemed gigantic. But today, I realized that if I just focus on doing three simple habits, I’d be very close to becoming a great husband.
First, I should date her weekly. If I miss a date with her (let’s say Pope Benedict called me up on our date night for a Conference Call to consult whether to canonize someone), I should replace that date within that same week.
Second, I should text her when I’m away from home. She says that she wants to feel that I still think of her, that we’re still connected even if we’re physically apart.
Third, I should complement her once a day. I need to tell her, “You’re wonderful,” or “I love your dress,” or “You look stunning today.”
I’ve discovered that if I just do these three rituals everyday, I’ll make my wife very happy. Mababaw ang kaligayahan ng Misis ko. (My wife is easy to please.)
To make her happy, I don’t have to give her elaborate or expensive gifts. In fact, I never do. Because gifts aren’t her love language. (Now you know why I’m rich.) For my Anniversary, Birthday, and Christmas gifts, she’d rather receive love letters from me. So that’s what I give her. Even if I write the same thing over and over again (I’m tempted to photocopy them), she still cries when she reads them.
And I really believe that most of us are the same—we just need three or four rituals to make us happy.
Even our kids…
On my list of dreams, I wrote down, “To be a great father”.
Again, this is such a gigantic dream, it’s intimidating.
But I realized that all it takes are three or four habits.
For example, to succeed as a father to my youngest son Francis, I’ve whittled it down to three habits. If I do these three habits, I would succeed in building a strong bond with him. (Note: I have another list of habits for my eldest son Benedict.)
Let me go over them one by one.
First, I should tell bedtime stories to Francis every night. And recently, I don’t read books to him anymore. I just make up an original story from my head. And he loves it. Because he can change the story midstream. I’m hallucinating that by spending time with my son before bedtime, there’s this possibility that I can shape his last thoughts and dreams. Who knows? Perhaps the wisdom and values I give him lingers in his thoughts longer.
Second, I should take a walk with him around our village every morning. While walking, we talk about anything he wants to talk about. So we talk about dinosaurs, dolphins, dinosaurs, killer whales, dinosaurs, aliens, and uh, did I mention dinosaurs? But during these walks, I’m able to impart again my love for him.
Third, I should play with him during the day. It doesn’t have to be long. Just a few minutes where I sit on the floor and we play with his toys together.
If I do these three rituals every day, without a doubt, I would be able to create a very strong father-son bond that will last a lifetime.
Do you want to be rich?
I built my wealth by focusing on 3 habits only. Not 185 habits. Yes, building wealth is simple. (Not easy. But simple.) That’s why a lot of people can’t get it. They’re looking for complicated ways of getting wealthy.
First, I should develop my core gift and give it to the world. I need to learn to monetize this core gift. And I believe that money will flow to me like the waves of the sea, because that’s just how God designed this cosmos. Give and you shall receive. Plant and you shall harvest.
Second, I should invest a portion of my income into the Stock Market every month—buying great companies. Not trading but investing. This simple ritual will make me very wealthy over time.
Third, I should tithe. Unless I tithe, I will lose my hunger for growing my wealth. Tithing is my fire. My fuel. My inspiration. If I don’t tithe, I lose my purpose to build my wealth.
These are the three rituals that make me rich.
It’s these tiny habits that will change your life.
Let me tell you how small things can cause big changes.
What Are Your Broken Windows?
I got fascinated when Michael Levine talked about the “Broken Windows” Theory.
He said criminologists first observed the “Broken Windows” Theory in 1982. They discovered that something as small as a broken window in a building could start the deterioration of its entire neighborhood. How, you ask?
Simple. First, a broken window sends a wrong signal to those who live there and to those who pass by. People would think that no one cares. Soon, other windows will be broken. Soon, trespassers will live in the building. Soon, the building becomes a haven for drug addiction. And soon, real estate prices of the entire neighborhood plummets.
All because of one broken window.
Friend, you may have “Broken Windows” in your life. You may have small habits that send the wrong signals to you and to others. That you’re not an honest person. That you’re not a loving person. That you’re not a disciplined person. Because of these seemingly insignificant habits, your life is in chaos now.
What are your “Broken Windows”? What seemingly insignificant bad habits can you fix now—which will make a huge difference in your life?
Cleaning The Graffiti
Here’s the good news.
The opposite is true: They’ve discovered that if you fix one seemingly insignificant problem, you help solve the bigger problem.
In New York, the head of its subway system decided to do two seemingly small things: Clean the graffiti in the subways and arrest “turnstile jumpers”. (Everyday, there were 170,000 people who didn’t pay their subway tickets.)
Some people criticized the authorities for picking on “minor crimes”. But they pressed on.
What happened? Over the years, they saw murder, assaults, robberies, and other violent crimes go down dramatically.
And it all started by cleaning the graffiti on subways.
Let me ask again: What graffiti can you remove from your life? What small and seemingly insignificant bad habits can you change right now that will solve your biggest problems?
Perhaps it’s coming to the Feast (our spiritual gathering) without fail. Imagine how that will dramatically change your life this year.
Or perhaps it’s waking up one hour earlier. Think how that will massively transform every day of your life.
Or perhaps complementing your spouse at least once a day. Imagine how that will bless your marriage!
Or perhaps it’s reading a bedtime story to your child everyday.
Or perhaps it’s investing 20% of your income for your future.
Or perhaps giving up white lies. (White lies are broken windows. By telling white lies, you send a wrong message to yourself. That you are duplicitous. That you’re not trustworthy.)
If you fix these “Broken Windows” in your life, you’ll change the direction of your entire life—and the life of your family.
Jesus said, If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. (Luke 16:10)
Accept “Slip Ups” As Part Of The Journey
Most likely, you’ll slip up.
In your journey towards changing your life, you’ll inadvertently fall a few times.
Hear me out: Don’t be too hard on yourself.
I was studying a scientific research done between two kinds of dieters. The first group of dieters, when they “slip up”, beat themselves for failing. The second group of dieters, when they “slip up”, forgive themselves and simply start over.
Research says that the second group of dieters were more successful in loosing weight than the first group of dieters.
Why? Because when the first dieter eats a cake, the dieter gets so angry with herself, she gets so depressed, she ends up eating the entire cake.
Friend, when you fail, smile and stand up again.
Don’t eat the entire cake.
Are you falling into old patterns?
Don’t give up. Just move on. Forgive yourself. Start over.
Remember: God doesn’t give up on you.
The Bible said, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion… (Philippians 1:6)
God has a habit of finishing what He started. And from what I know, He never breaks this habit.
He started a great work in you.
Your life may be a mess right now.
He’s not yet through with you.
He’ll finish His beautiful work in you.
May your dreams come true,
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