I love a good motivational quote, to do list or schedule reboot. I also believe that how we begin our Mondays truly sets the tone for our week or, as age-old mantra goes, “Never miss a Monday”. Whatever it is about the beginning of a new week, Monday sets the tone. Because of this, I am setting out to begin Monday’s well. To start with a fresh week, a clean to do list, a delicious breakfast, extended time in scripture. If Monday truly sets the tone for the week, that don’t we surely want to do whatever we can to make sure that tone is a good one?
In addition to the aforementioned couple of things I hope to do each Monday morning to set the pace for my week, I also thought I’d pop in and share a quote I read recently that I just can’t forget.
This summer, my day job has led me to a lot of websites, looking up faculty profiles and documenting contact information for various colleges. The above Aristotle quote was listed as one professor’s favorite saying and it immediately jumped out at me. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big fan of dreaming big, of creating lofty goals, of wondering what if. But I think sometimes I get so focused on the big forest that I lose sight of bit by bit, small moment decisions that create success or, in Aristotle’s case, excellence.
My parents own two adorable dogs, Radar and Kacie. They love to play and give you kisses and snuggle up next to you and being around them has by far been a highlight of my summer. When I first began living at my parents in early June as we made the transition from California to Colorado, I woke up that first morning and took Radar and Kacie for a walk. I am far from what anyone would label athletic so this was not a long, strenuous walk. Perhaps just 15 minutes outside first thing in the morning, around the neighborhood, getting the blood flowing. Radar took all of one day to catch on that this could become a routine and so every weekday morning since then, he has been outside my bedroom door when my alarm goes off at 5:45am. This has been a small victory for me, someone who has always struggled with creating a rhythm of exercise. And I’m far from being an “excellent” walker, but I’m getting there. One day at a time. One early morning alarm at a time. Two incredibly happy puppies on leashes at a time.
It’s a lot of daily decisions that create a habit and form excellence. Each week it seems like there is a new psychological study or productivity article on the power of incremental change. Book upon book has been written on this subject (In fact, I highly recommend Gretchen Ruben’s book The Happiness Project), so this is far from a revolutionary concept. Yet I consistently seem to have conversations with friends who desire an overhaul on their life – lose 25 pounds in one meal, pay off all of their debt overnight, read the entire Bible in a week. Yet, if we take the above Aristotle quote seriously, excellence (or goals) is not achieve spontaneously, quickly, or without intention.
As we begin a new week, let’s spur one another on in the small decisions. Making a small tweak in your daily habits or rhythms, whether it’s going to bed 15 minutes earlier or cutting out that extra cup of coffee or not touching your cell phone before 8am, each of these decisions over time can create a huge impact in how we structure our days, create space to breathe, and find Sabbath in the everyday moments.