Most people know the feeling of living in a "vicious cycle" at one time in their life or another - the feeling that nothing is going right and that nothing will ever go right. It's the feeling of being caught up in a pattern where things are going down and down and down with no end in sight.
The good news is your life doesn't have to be that way. There's another option called a "virtuous cycle" and that's what I'm hoping for your life and for my own. A virtuous cycle is a positive feedback loop. A set of patterns in which one good decision leads to a good outcome and creates momentum towards more good outcomes.
I first learned of virtuous cycles in Economics class in college and it is exactly what it sounds like: a pattern in which your life, your relationships, your business, your money and your overall spiritual health is improving all the time. We all want to be in a place where things are going up and up and up with no end in sight!
But how do we get there? How do we stop the decline and start things heading in the other direction?
1. Decide what direction you want to go. If you want your life to go up, determine so. You have the ability to change your life. It's up to you. You have control. You are a not on a runaway train or a boat without a paddle. You have to understand this fundamental principle before you'll be able to make any lasting changes. The number one reason most people don't advance their lives in ways important to them is they NEVER DECIDE TO. If you want more, decide so right now. What do you want? Write it down!
2. Stop doing the things that are taking you down the wrong path. The next step is the most obvious, but we don't always do the obvious things. When you find you are going the wrong direction, STOP GOING THAT DIRECTION! There are several manifestations of this. You, the reader, know how this applies in your life better than I do. Here's one example: if the money always runs out before the month runs out, it might be time to cut back on certain expenses for a while.
3. Take a step in the new direction. Even a small step will be HUGE improvement because it's taking you away from the declining direction and moving you towards the incline. You'll not only feel better but you've made tangible, actual progress and that is exciting! I challenge you - even beg you - to take a step. Even if you can't run a mile, take a walk around the block. Drink an extra glass of water. (Drink a SINGLE glass of water??!!) There's something each of us can do right now to move our lives forward.
4. Keep going! This is where a lot of people lose it. They make a few good choices and then stop. Once you take a step, take another...and another...and another. Pretty soon you'll be in an entirely new place in life - one of your own choosing. It is like opening a savings account and making a deposit. One deposit earns interest. The interest compounds. As you add to your savings, the process accelerates.
Start today! Just make a decision to do something different - something that will begin to take you in a better direction. Sow an offering or give someone an unexpected gift. Surprise your spouse with a compliment. Open a special savings account even if you can only set aside a dollar. It all feeds into a new pattern in your life.
My pastor, Thaddeus Eastland of HOPE Church - Pearland, likes to say that "life is choice-driven." Since life is choice-driven, prosperous living is about making choices that lead to prosperity. Make a choice today to end the vicious cycles and enter a pattern of living in a virtuous cycle.