Small Behaviors or Sensational Outcomes By Ginger Hill
Will you embrace small behaviors or orchestrate sensational outcomes?
When it comes to our health improvement efforts, we often put our focus on outcomes instead of behaviors. Fall is approaching and it is a time when many of us make new health improvement commitments. What will be your focus?
- What is the number on my scale today?
- What was my time in that 5K race last week?
And it is not surprising because the world focuses on outcomes. In fact, achieving a specific outcome is the basis of almost every single health improvement program that is advertised in the media.
There is nothing wrong with desiring a good outcome. Goal setting is a good thing. But when we forget that the outcome we seek is merely a result of our daily behavioral choices, we can lose perspective and head down some paths that will, ultimately, not get us to where we want to be. This is why, as a wellness coach, I encourage people to –
Behaviors vs. Outcomes
Think about it.
- Losing a specific number of pounds or dropping down to a specific clothing size are not behaviors, they are outcomes. They are a result of a small eating and exercise routines practiced consistently over time.
- Clocking a specific time in a 5K race is not a behavior, it is an outcome. It is a result of following a solid daily training plan consistently.
There is a big difference between a behavior and an outcome. This is illustrated in the following parable about evangelism that differentiates between the tow.
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)
The man practices the simple behavior of scattering seed on the ground. But what happens with that seed is out of his control. Things are happening, but he does not control the details of the process or outcome (how much, when and how). All he knows is that he will eventually see the outcome of his behavior. A harvest will result according to God’s design.
The same principle is true regarding the outcomes of our health behaviors. We “scatter our seed” when we put forth the daily effort to eat healthy foods, exercise and practice positive stress coping skills. But, like the seed sower, we don’t control the process of change that goes with our efforts.
That’s because, just like the seed sower, we can’t orchestrate outcomes because there is much that we don’t know and much that we don’t control.
- We don’t control the distribution of fat around our hips even as we exercise faithfully five days a week.
- We don’t control how quickly our body will adapt to the stress of a physical or mental/emotional challenge and bring us to a higher level of fitness or resilience.
But we do know that God will eventually turn our well-researched, well-planned and well-executed behaviors into an outcome according to His design
This parable reminds me of two very important biblical principles that we can apply to any and every health endeavor.
What is the target of our attention? Are we focused on a desired outcome or are we focused on the daily behaviors that will lead to a desired outcome? Our daily behaviors become habits that bring about positive change for the long-term while outcome-driven shortcuts rarely bring about long-term success.
What drives our expectations? Are we desperate to do whatever it takes to achieve our outcome no matter how unwise? Or are we willing to surrender the results of our efforts to God so that He can use them to create what He has in mind for us?
Let’s be like the seed sower who scatters his seed and trusts God to use his daily efforts to produce a harvest in His own way and in His own time.
Now, What About You?
In your health improvement efforts, are you embracing your commitment to practicing daily behaviors and then surrendering the outcomes of those efforts to God? Or are focused on doing whatever it takes to orchestrate the outcome of your own choosing?
Ginger Hill is a founder of Good Health for Good Works. She combines her professional wellness expertise with biblical principles and spiritual resources to help Christian organizations to create wellness-enhancing experiences and environments for their employees and volunteers so they can effectively fulfill their mission and share Christ’s love with the world.
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