The first line of 1 Peter 1:13 in my NIV Bible has grabbed my attention and won’t let me go, “Preparing your mind for action.”
There is a lot in this short verse, but that first line is where God has been holding my attention and pointing out a few things I need to take a closer look at. After reading that verse, I started writing in my journal as I had an immediate reaction to it.
In my writing that day, I realized how little I’ve been doing lately to prepare my mind for action. Healthy habits that I had been cultivating over the summer had been ignored in recent weeks. And, as a result, life has been more of a struggle than usual.
It’s way too easy to get caught up in making fear-based decisions. Our goal becomes to keep “all the things” we are juggling up in the air, hoping they will not crash to the ground. The reality is that it takes only a split second of losing your focus, or an unexpected change in plans, for our circus act to come crashing down around us.
As life transitions from summer to fall, the kids are back in school, new routines, sports, it’s time to clean up the yard for winter, and so much more. Then suddenly, there are only X amount of days until Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. In my business circles, I keep seeing, “you have 90 days left in the year, how are your 4th quarter goals coming?
If things are going fine, these questions and reminders can be motivating. If life already feels like a struggle, there is an urge to push harder, go faster, and try to get it “all” done.
This last week has been a time of stepping back to list out, evaluate, and pray over all the stuff that is on my plate. As the list grew, I felt my stress and anxiety escalate. It was pretty clear that instead of making strategic decisions, I have been caught up in making fear-based decisions again. And that never works in the long run.
Enter the Personal Quarterly Review
So I took my own advice (go figure right!) and started a Personal Quarterly Review, which you can read about here. In this review, I take a look at things like:
- What’s on my plate?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What needs to get done?
- What can wait?
- What can I stop?
- What do I need to start or restart?
During my review, I made a long list of projects with due dates, projects that I would like to take on, and half-formed ideas. I expected a long list, but I did not expect a ginormous list. It’s no wonder that my anxiety had risen incredibly high again.
This review also reminded me that I had stopped cultivating healthy habits that prepare my mind for action.
How Do We Prepare Our Minds for Action?
In my life, I’ve realized there are 5 areas where I need to cultivate healthy habits that prepare my mind and body for action.
1) Daily Devotions: Starting my day out reading my Bible, spending time in prayer is a vital part of my day. And even more important, “Word Before World.” Before checking Instagram or email, start my day out with God.
2) Rest & Observing Sabbath: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Intentional rest means shutting off the computer, spending time outside, or maybe gather with friends and family.
Making the decision to stop the daily hustle is what Sabbath is for. Keeping Sabbath is also an act of trust. Trust that God is in control, that He is in charge, and that it is not up to me to solve every problem, or make everything work.
3) Practicing Gratitude: Taking the time to daily say thank you, give thanks, and use gratitude as worship can change your life. It has for me. It’s a daily refocusing of my attention, of pulling me out of negative thinking, which can quickly spiral out of control.
Learning to be aware of how God is working in and around us is something we can easily miss. It’s so important to cultivate awareness and see the gifts he blesses us with.
4) Daily Walk & Exercise: If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that my morning walks with the dogs is high on my non-negotiable days… except for when it is pouring down rain.
Every morning, I roll out of bed, and we head over to the beach, the bay, the dunes, or our local park to walk. This is an opportunity to daily disconnect, breathe deep, and stretch our legs, which is an essential part of my daily routine.
5) Journaling Thoughts & Prayers: “I write to figure out what I’m thinking…” a paraphrase from a famous Flannery O’Connor quote. For many of us, this is true.
I find it easier to pray through writing. It helps me concentrate, and there is less wandering in my thoughts. Journaling is an outlet to express feelings, ideas, explore dreams, and goals. When I write, I’m able to put my thoughts into order.
When we don’t make time to rest, it’s not uncommon to see an increase in stress and anxiety. Over time it can lead to worsening physical and emotional health. What we often realize too late is that a life in constant motion is unstainable.
It is important to develop healthy, life-giving habits and routines that grow your faith, and build your health and prepare your mind for action.
This weekend I’m making time for rest, reflection, and spending time with a friend for a late birthday celebration. This intentional downtime will help prepare my mind for action for the coming week.
What will you do today to prepare your mind for action?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer, and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her dogs. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books, and now with the Selah Journal: A reflective journal and mini-retreat. Start your own daily gratitude practice with our, “7 Days of Gratitude Challenge – A Gratitude Journal Starter Kit”.