We think of life in terms of the big things, the big chunks, but the accumulation of small but consistent actions are the things that really shape our lives and move us toward who we will be and what we will accomplish.
Significance Through Persistence: The Small Things Make the Biggest Difference
We talk about mission and vision quite a bit because it brings such joy to be on a mission, an important mission, and to feel God’s purpose all over it, but core values are an element of our lives that is even more important than the mission. Core values are intrinsic non-negotiable of how we will live our lives, how we will make decisions, and how we will guide our actions.
We all have core values. Sometimes we write them out, sometimes we state them, and we always live them out whether we recognize them as core values or not. We embrace and live out our true values, whether we identify them or not, and then there are aspired values — the things we think are important, and we think we should be living out, the things we WISH were our values, we may even state them to be our values, but we are not living them out.
In the calibration of our lives, we believe it’s important to identify core values so we can intentionally guide our lives and our actions by those values.
I have 7 core values that guide my life and actions. We’ve talked a lot about mission and vision and a little bit about values, but our core values are the non-negotiable things we value as so important that we will rarely bend on them.
For example (and only for example, because you have to develop your own) here are my stated core values:
- Presence, because everything flows from relationship with and proximity to God.
- Passion, because I have to care deeply about who I am and what I do.
- People, because life is lived in the context of relationships.
- Prophetic, because I only act upon what I see.
- Priority, because I must focus on the things most important.
- Persistent, because little things become significant over time.
- Perpetual, because life never ends, focus upon the eternal
I actually often rehearse these values to myself to provide direction.
We would like to talk in-depth on each of these values over time, but in this episode of the Calibrate Life Podcast, we want to focus on being persistent.
Persistence: Little things done consistently over a long period of time become significant.
For example, I know that if I only have 10 minutes here and there in my life to read, if I apply that 10 minutes in the right direction and consistently, I will have read a book over a period of just a few weeks.
Persistence is how you will accomplish the big things, its how you make your life into what you want it to be, it is how you will finish strong. You will accomplish the major projects you want to one day accomplish through persistence — consistently and persistently doing micro tasks.
For your larger life goals, commit to doing something every day toward the fulfillment of that goal. No matter how small your action, if you consistently move toward your goal, you will one day find it fulfilled.
Persistence denotes determination. It is enduring with tenacity.
It is said that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. I believe, that traced back to the original source and research, the statement was that it takes at least 21 days to establish a habit. It depends upon the person and it depends upon the action. It may take 21 days, it may take 3 months, it may take 6 months or 2 years to really get positive actions ingrained into our lives.
- When you sow a thought you reap an action.
- When you sow an action you reap a habit.
- When you sow a habit you reap a life.
One mental obstacle to the formation of positive life habits is taking encouragement from “streaks.” When we are persistent for a long period of time and break the success streak we think of it as failure and feel we have to start over or give up. Actually, we need to see the habits and routines we are establishing in our lives as things in which we are going to be persistent. We must give ourselves grace and encouragement that if we digress from our path, we need to just get back on the path. Our tendency, or at least my tendency, is to feel defeated when I’ve broken consistency, but persistence is about keeping things in focus. Persistence is about pressing forward even when we experience failings and discouragement.
This is episode 52 of the Calibrate Life Podcast. One year of consistency and persistence. I’ve never been this consistent with anything in my life. This is the 52nd Thursday episode published, Lord willing. We decided to be successful with a podcast we needed to be consistent, people needed to count on it being in their phone when they expected it to be.
A couple of episodes ago I forgot to hit “publish” and I woke up on Thursday morning, looked for the podcast, and it was not there. I panicked and went in the back door of our website and realized what I failed to do. I published the episode immediately. There were a few people who listen early in the morning on Thursday who were disappointed, but simply because the 4:18 a.m. streak was broken, we stayed persistent, got it done, and carried on.
We’ve recorded most episodes of the podcast in our home studio, but because of the rhythms of life and the need to stay consistent we’ve recorded episodes in Quincy, Illinois, at Broomtree Farm in Southern Illinois, a few in Northern Indiana, one in Naples, Florida, and one in Venice, Italy. It was sometimes a challenge. I sit in a business center in a hotel in Rome, looking over my shoulder to see if I was alarming anyone as I put a flash drive in the back of one of their computers because I did not have my computer with me and I had to get an episode uploaded.
Because I was committed to persistence. As it relates merely to this podcast, we have 26 hours of recorded content online. I have disciplined myself to write at least 52 articles this year totaling about 70,000 words, which is slightly larger than the size of an average book.
We’ve gotten better at the podcast, I’ve developed a more consistent writing discipline, and we are beginning to see some possibilities for future resources as we build on the foundation of the past 52 weeks.
Another thing I’ve been doing with persistence is writing. I try to write 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. It is amazing the result in my life from this exercise. The focus, the direction, and the usable content has been a great blessing and given us great forward movement in God’s plans for our lives.
Starting and staying consistent and persistent are the keys to accomplishing things of significance.
The framework for our lives can be summed up with this simple phrase: Get in the Presence of God, a passion will arise, a path will emerge, and a practice will result. The resulting practices are the actions of our lives. Even visions and dreams from God are of no worth unless they find their way into our actions. God’s dream for the reconciliation of humanity would have remained unfulfilled without the action of the incarnation of Christ and his life and redemptive work among us.
Calibration Tools… Calibrating our Lives and Lifting those We Love and Lead [24:43]
- What are your present persistent practices? Your daily and weekly routines, whether you are intentional about them or not are shaping your life. What life are you shaping with your persistent and consistent actions? What adjustments must you make?
- Think about or list some of the goals important to you. What persistent and consistent actions must you engage to move toward your desired future in that particular area of your life?
- You only have so much energy, so you can’t load your life down with a lot of routines. You will wear yourself out, so, draw your focus down to a few things you need to do with persistence in order the calibrate the life you are moving toward. What are those few things?
- What accountability structures will you put in place to keep yourself on track.
It’s really not the big things we attempt that define our lives, it is persistence and consistency with the small things. The accumulation of small things done consistently over a long period of time will yield massive results. So, what are the small things you are consistently and persistently practicing?