It’s that time again...the time at which many of our New Year's resolutions are starting to fall to the wayside.
One of my resolutions for last year was to listen to The Bible in a Year podcast. The thing that Father Mike pointed out is that he didn't specifically start the podcast off with the date that you should be listening to that specific episode. Rather, he says day 16 or day 22 for the podcast.
That means you can start this plan at any point in the year. So, why not start the podcast today?
January 1st is just another day
I remember something my wife shared from her Spiritual Director about waiting for a particular day to start this goal or that goal and that in reality, we should start today on worthwhile goals and resolutions.
Really, there is nothing special about January 1st. Or, listening every single day and thinking you have to be perfect about not missing a day.
A couple of years back I shared a top-ten list with the men in my parish about how to read the Bible in a year. Actually, the tips could apply to going after any big goal. Let's see what they are and if they still apply.
Number 1 - Check Your Intent
Understand your motivation and answer the why first (great book if you haven't read it - Start with Why by Simon Sinek). This will help you get through the difficult days when you don't feel like sticking to it. My main motivation for doing this was to remind myself about the story of God and grow closer to God over the course of the year.
Number 2 - Divide by 365
Break down the goal in manageable chucks. One way to do this is to divide it into parts and work on the goal every day. Fortunately for us, this is done for us by having a new podcast episode available every day.
Number 3 - Get an App for That
I've got a confession to make - I'm a bit of an app-junkie. When I first went after this goal, I downloaded the Bible.com app. Again, fortunate for us, we just need to subscribe to the podcast, and each day we get a podcast freshly delivered to our player. Really, it couldn't be easier than that.
Number 4 - Enjoy Checking off the List
Whether you use a habit-tracking app (see, I told you I like apps) or a digital or analog to-do list, enjoy the pleasure of clicking off a daily repeating task. Success brings more success and this creates what we system-thinkers call a "virtuous circle."
Number 5 - Share It Publicly and Talk About It Often
Wow. This is getting meta. This blog article is a way of sharing the goal publicly and the next time you see me, let's talk about how you (if you're doing the same) and I are progressing on the goal.
Number 6 - Talk About It like It’s Already Done
Above I talked about "virtuous cycles." One type of virtuous cycle is called a "self-fulfilling prophecy." When you talk about something using "when" versus "if" that matters. For example, I could say...When I finish the podcast this year, I'm going to write a blog post article about my takeaways." Replace the "when" with "if" above and notice what happens.
Number 7 - Get Ahead and Enjoy
Granted, if you are just listening to the podcast, it's going to be difficult to do this. But, you could download the plan and get ahead if there is going to be a period of time that you won't be able to access the latest episodes. I would use the example of traveling to another country, but traveling abroad is probably still a while off. You get the idea.
Number 8 - Have a Way to Catch Up
Father Mike mentioned that the "most difficult day to listen/read the bible is the day after the day after you don't." This reminded me of the "second mistake" idea from the book Atomic Habits (James Clear).
Number 9 - The Medium Matters – How the Audio Version Helps
Like most, I had many years where I tried to read the bible and I got "stuck" in Leviticus. Listening to the readings and hearing the commentary make the experience so much more engaging and enjoyable. That reminds me, the podcast is available through the main podcast networks as you would expect. But, it's also available from my favorite Catholic / Meditation / Prayer app - Hallow.
Number 10 - Have an Accountability Group
Letting others know that you are reading the bible this year is the first step as we covered in Number 5 above. The next step is to have some form of accountability with other men about this. I've been fortunate enough to be a part of some great men's groups and this is a place where you can ask others to check on you with this goal. Nothing like some good old-fashioned peer pressure to keep you motivated.
Here are the small group questions I shared with the group.
- What is one of the big spiritual goals that you have yet to reach?
- Which tips resonated with you/are ones that you will try in the future?
- Do you have any tips that you would add to the list?
- Do you have an accountability group?