There are few things in life more frustrating than knowing you need to change, wanting to change, and trying to change, but not actually changing.
How do I know?
Because I have tried so hard so many times to change, only to hit the same brick wall of failure time and time again.
Before I started learning to master the habits I’m sharing with you in this book, that was my life.
One example: Knowing my eating patterns weren’t healthy and wanting to do better, I repeatedly tried to change my diet. I made commitments to eat only healthy food. I would succeed all day, but by evening my motivation withered and my willpower weakened.
I would end my successful day of eating right with a little bedtime reward snack of brownies. And something salty. Maybe chips and salsa. And a little ice cream.
The next morning, I’d wake up feeling guilty and do the walk of shame to the kitchen to see the evidence in the sink and in the trash.
Determined to do better, I would eat a healthy breakfast, followed by a nutritious lunch and dinner. But then a bedtime snack of cookies. And chips. And cheesecake.
Finally, I would feel defeated and quit trying. It seemed I had the desire to change, but not the power to change.
You’ve been there, right?
You’ve tried to change too. It hasn’t worked for you either.
We want change.
We want to change.
We want life to be different.
We long for more.
But honestly, we get tired. Exhausted. Whether physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or all of the above. Change is hard. Trying to change is draining. Our problem is a deficit of power.
Add to the exhaustion our sense of shame because we keep settling for less. We feel frustrated, like I would during my morning-after walks into the kitchen. We begin to despise our desire to change and our apparent inability to do so.
Here are some common behaviors so many of us desire to change. First, there are the “starts.” As in, “I’m going to”:
• Grow in contentment
• Lose twenty pounds
• Feel closer to God
• Breathe new life into my marriage
• Get out of debt
• Be consistent in my Bible reading
• Escape a toxic relationship
Then there are the “stops.” As in, “That’s it! I am done with”:
• Stressing out
• Showing frustration
• Being impatient
• Being late
• Drinking to excess
• Thinking negatively
Whether or not I listed any of your starts and stops, you know your problem. You’ve wanted that “something” to change for years, but you can’t seem to find the silver bullet.
If you journal, maybe you’ve looked back on what you wrote years ago and realized you are still writing the same thing today. Or maybe you’ve been going to a counselor for quite a while but feel you aren’t progressing like you hoped when you began the visits. You’re struggling with the same old issues, still hoping for that elusive change to come.
What makes all this so much worse is that you’ve tried. Like, tried really hard. You haven’t just sat around doing nothing. Over the years, you’ve made a bunch of decisions and commitments and New Year’s resolutions and attempts to set goals. Actually, the same decisions and commitments and resolutions and goals. Because, again, you know what needs to change. You have decided to finally do something about the issue—over and over and over. Yet, so far, nothing has worked.
There’s a good chance you hate that about yourself. It’s embarrassing and creates regret. Each time you try again to change and fail, you feel worse. You look in the mirror and say, “You suck.” But you manage to shake it off and go back to your uncomfortably comfortable same old life. Then you get fed up with your problem again and decide to change again. Eventually, you fail again. This time you’re not just mad at yourself. You feel ashamed and internalize the failure. Rather than thinking, I failed at changing, you think, I am a failure. I have failed at life. You have mixed an emotional cocktail of self-hatred and shame.
Here’s a question that’s hard to hear: What if you’re in this same place years from now? Wanting to change but still doing the same things, living the same life?
I know this sounds depressing, but if you haven’t seen the transformation you’ve wanted in recent years, why assume you will in the future? How will something change if nothing changes?
Tragically, this is where many give up. They say to themselves, “I can’t change, so I’ll stop trying. I guess this is just who I am and how I am.”
Does all this mean you’re incapable of change?
Does it mean God doesn’t answer your prayers?
Does it mean you’re trapped with the same annoying problems for the rest of your life?
Not at all.
You can change. I promise. More important, God has promised that change is possible for you. Just as I learned it was for me.
But there’s a reason change doesn’t come. Scratch that. There are reasons, as in plural, with an s.
Bad news: we don’t experience lasting change because we try to change in the wrong way.
Good news: we can learn how to change.
Great news: we’re going to learn how, together, in this book. We’re going to access the power to change by mastering the habits that matter most.
Here’s the plan I’ve laid out for you to accomplish change. Each chapter contains:
• A foundational concept to bring about and build upon change, supported by personal experiences, stories, examples, teaching, and Scripture
• A practical exercise for you to engage with and apply the truths I’ve given you
• A guiding principle to encourage and inspire you toward change
• A Bible verse from the Father’s heart
In part 1 you’ll evaluate how you think of yourself, your view of God, and the future you.
In part 2 you’ll learn the value of training over just trying harder.
In part 3 you’ll discover how hope doesn’t change our lives but habits do.
In part 4 you’ll see how the reap-sow principle can change the trajectory of your future.
In part 5 you’ll grasp how God’s power can become the catalyst for lasting change in your life.
For you to master the habits that matter most, I am offering you a clear path to get where you have always wanted to go, the same one I have followed for many years.
If you’re ready to start living the life you’ve been hoping for and dreaming about, let’s uncover the first mistake we make in trying to change. Then I’ll offer our first solution.
To experience change that lasts, focus on who, not do.
Groeschel, Craig. 2023. The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.