I shared recently that I read an incredible book with the worst title. I shared one of the practices from that book about planning on Fridays and today I want to share with you another one of the practices that Three Times a Week is a Habit. Sounds simple. But you may be thinking, “3x a week is not a habit – it’s lazy”. It’s either 7 days a week or nothing at all.
I actually used to believe that too. I used to believe you either do something every day or you don’t do it at all. That unless you pursue perfection, it’s not true habit.
Over the last few years I’ve changed my mind on that mindset. I’ve come to adopt the perspective that doing something you can regularly commit to and keep as a practice for months and years is so much better than doing something perfectly for a 30 days or 90 days. If it’s something you can only stick to for a short period of time, it’s not really a habit you’re creating at all.
A habit is defined as – a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
“One that is hard to give up”. So with that definition, would you really say 30 days of perfection followed by days or weeks or months of not doing that habit again is really a habit?
Laura shares that “things don’t have to happen daily to become part of your identity, and “often” can be more doable than “always.”
So let’s revisit the idea that “3x a week is a habit”. Maybe you’re thinking, okay so I see how 7 days a week of perfection doesn’t need to be the goal, but 5 should still be. You should eat well or work out Monday – Friday and enjoy the weekends. It’s still a habit.
Again, that could be the case but I want you to consider this-
You set your intention on Sunday to work out for 30 minutes Monday – Friday. Monday comes – you nail your workout. Tuesday comes – a kiddo was sick so you didn’t get your AM workout in but got it in later during the day when they were napping. Wednesday comes – they’re still not feeling great and you’re exhausted, so maybe you say no big deal, I worked out two days this week, I’ll just skip today. Thursday – You have a great workout again since you rested the day before and your child is feeling better and back at school. Awesome. Friday comes and you are just spent from the week and you decide – I did enough this week, I’m good to go. No workout today. You’re ready for the weekend and plan to relax and hang out with your family and enjoy your time off.
While I’m not saying this is every week, this happens to us more times than we may realize. If you track your workouts, you probably see a pattern on the days you may “skip” or give yourself a pass on. On average, you may only be moving your body 3 or 4 times a week – not the 5 or 7 that you intended and you give yourself grace on it.
So why are we willing to accept the 3 times a week when we intend to do 5, but we’re not willing to accept that 3x a week is a habit when we only intend to do it 3x.
What’s the difference?
It’s our mindset. Wouldn’t it actually be better to keep the promises to yourself and your intentions that you set of working out 3x a week (which is very achievable) rather than trying to aim for this perfection of 5x during the work week or every day and miss some? Which are you more willing to achieve? What will stick with you and become “one that is hard to give up”?
This mindset applies to more than just working out. I just find that this tends to be the most common thing we aim for perfection over rather than the recognition that 3x a week is a habit. Other areas that we can use this practice are listed below.
- Spending time in the Bible
- Tidying up various rooms
- Having an hour to rest while your phone is in another room
- Reading a book
- Listening to a podcast
- Spending time painting
- Making a meal rather than ordering out
- Writing your blog or novel
- Praying with your spouse
- Setting aside time play with your kids
- Practicing yoga
- Going on a walk
- Spending time outside in the sun
- Spending time in intentional conversation with your spouse
While everyone could benefit from doing these more often than 3x a week – committing to a long term habit over a short burst of perfection is what’s important here.
And just because we only do this 3x a week doesn’t mean it needs to be for an extra long length of time. Determine what amount of time you can commit to that would be easy for you. It doesn’t even need to be at the same time every day. Maybe it’s 10 minutes in The Word (Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon, and Saturday evening), or a 1 minute prayer with your spouse (before breakfast Monday, Wednesday and Thursday after dinner), or maybe 5 minutes of being outside a day of 3 minutes of meditation (again these can be at different times). There’s no need to overcomplicate it. Determine the minimum amount of time you can stick with 3x a week, the times during the week that you can when you do your weekly planning, and then do it.
Three times a week is a habit. Often is more doable than always.