By Benjamin Lam, WSU Student
The school year is just beginning, and we are sure this year will be different. However, every year that confidence inevitably bursts when homework is assigned on syllabus day and we’re already behind. That initial quiz shows how much has been forgotten from the previous semesters and we wonder how we already feel so stressed out.
While it is human nature to rely on habits when you are tired or stressed, it is important to establish the right habits before your body reaches that point. Habits can help increase freedom and flexibility, which sounds counterintuitive. Can a more structured life actually be more freeing? I have found that to be true. Once a solid foundation of disciplined habits is established, they can be easily modified when necessary instead of having to reinvent the wheel each time things get out of control. For your future, stressed-out self, here are 6 habits to start the year off strong.
1. Wake Up
Getting up early is a key way of using time efficiently. It allows more time to complete tasks. If we get up early, it encourages us to go to bed earlier. It makes us not waste our time at night. Granted, there will be exceptions to this, like if you work the night shift, but the purpose is to not waste time sleeping for longer than is necessary and to fight laziness. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep to function at their max capacity, so figure out how much you need and be really honest about it. Knowing this goes a long way towards fighting laziness and passivity.
2. No Seriously, Wake Up!
Discipline is an important part of becoming a disciple of Jesus. The first discipline battle of the day is getting out of bed. While it might not feel that important, t is a crucial battle to win in order to set the tone for the day. Winning the battle means never hitting the snooze button on your alarm and getting out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. It’s hard, the struggle is real. I find myself debating if I want to get up early to go to the gym or just keep sleeping. We must fight laziness and this is a crucial way to do that. Satan uses laziness to keep us from glorifying God by allowing passivity to reign. There are days the snooze button wins and I do choose to skip the gym. However, the key to winning this battle is defeating the enemy before he can even get his first shot off. If we start the day compromising on who we want to be, it’s easy for that to snowball into other decisions. Start your day off with a win against Satan.
3. Make time to Abide
Everything we do is rooted in our relationship with God, yet spending time with Him is often one of the first things to go when we get busy. We often think that God can wait. He will still be there when we are not busy and have more time to devote to Him. We quickly forget that our main purpose is to glorify God, and we can only do that through His help and guidance. We cannot give what we do not have, we do not have what do not make time for, and we do not make time for what we do not value. We must truly see God as a priority and make time for Him. We have to schedule time in our schedules to abide and not easily sacrifice that time for something else.
In my busy schedule, I daily have to ask if Jesus is a priority and it’s a constant fight to make time. He is worth it all, including sacrificing some sleep in the morning. Even Jesus got up early to spend time with His Father before doing anything else. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
4. Be organized
You hear all the time that using a planner or calendar is incredibly helpful for being organized and responsible, but why is being organized important? It helps to ensure we are responsible and don’t miss meetings or assignments. Your ability to remain organized is directly correlated to your capacity to take on tasks. Through maintaining a schedule you will easily see where you have open blocks of time that can be dedicated to other things, such as spending time with people who don’t know Jesus, hitting the gym, or going on a date with your significant other. Organization is the key to flexibility and increased capacity.
5. Take Care of Your Body
Your physical health plays a major role in your ability to learn and function at your maximum potential. It affects your mood, resiliency, and immune system. The Bible says your body is a temple, a gift, and a tool to be stewarded well. We should be equipped and ready to go wherever God sends us. Contrary to popular belief, working out doesn’t have to be completely miserable. Find some physical activity you enjoy such as a sport, yoga, or dancing.
Eating healthy means both the type of food we are intaking and how often we are doing that. Bring food to campus with you, if you know you are going to be on campus through lunch, and get up early enough to eat something before going to class. Both of these things will go a long way to improving your health and having a more successful year.
6. Prioritize Community
Community is such a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. As opposed to just any hangout with friends, community means being with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, pushing each other to be more like him. This kind of community can hold you accountable to maintaining a healthy relationship with God and spending time making disciples. We should be working from a place of rest, and a part of that rest comes from community. It can be easy to cut out community time when things get busy. Therefore, we have to make a commitment now to make it a key part of our life. Sunday worship service and small groups might feel optional on the busy weeks, but those are often the very things we need to reset and refocus.
These 6 habits are not meant as hard and fast rules, rather they are meant to give you a solid base to work from. We aim to glorify God in everything that we do and steward well the gifts He has given us, namely time. So start your year off strong and create habits that will both sustain you and allow you to bring more glory to God.