When it comes to our health-related efforts, we often put our focus on outcomes.
What was the number on the scale today?
What was your time on that 10K race last week?
How many sizes did you go down on that diet you tried?
And it is not surprising - that is how the world works. 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 specific 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 run into problems. Becoming obsessed with an outcome can quickly cause us to 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 –
Focus primarily on behaviors rather than outcomes
Think about it –
Losing a specific number of pounds or dropping down to a specific dress size are not behaviors, they are outcomes. They are a result of a series of behaviors practiced consistently over time. An excessive focus on a weight-related number drives people to take on unsustainable eating habits that will quickly disappear once the outcome has been achieved. That’s where the yo-yo diet syndrome begins.
Clocking a specific time in a 10K race is not a behavior, it is an outcome. It is a result of the behavior of following a solid training plan consistently. An excessive focus on a specific race time drives people to take on training plans beyond their ability often resulting in injury.
There is a big difference between a behavior and an outcome. This is illustrated in scripture in the following parable about evangelism that differentiates between putting our focus on obedience versus putting our focus on outcomes.
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.”
The man displays obedience by scattering seed on the ground (sharing the Good News). But what happens with that seed is out of his control. Things are happening, but he does not control the details of the process (how much, when and how). All he knows is that he will eventually see the outcome of his obedience – the harvest (souls won for Christ). And that harvest will take place according to God’s timing and design.
The same principle is true when it comes to experiencing the outcomes of our health behaviors. We “scatter our seed” when we put forth the effort to eat healthy foods and take the time and effort to exercise. But, like the seed sower, we don’t control the process of change that goes with our efforts.
If there is one thing we know from science, it is that when it comes to health outcomes, there is much we that don’t know and there is much we don’t control. What we know from life experience is that we will eventually see good outcomes from our efforts, and those outcomes will come about according to God’s design.
In reading this parable, it reminds me of two very important biblical principles to be applied to any and every endeavor:
Where is your effort and attention?
Are you focused the outcome or are you focused on the
obedience that will get you there?
Daily obedience changes us for the long-term while outcome driven
shortcuts rarely bring long-term success.
What drives your expectations?
Are you desperate to do whatever it takes to achieve your outcome?
Will you surrender the results of your efforts to God
so that He can use them to create what He has in mind?
Let’s be like the seed sower who obediently scatters his seed and trusts God to use his efforts to produce a harvest in His own way and in His own time.
What about you? When it comes to your health improvement efforts, are you focused on daily obedience and surrendering the outcomes of your efforts to God? Or are focused on doing whatever it takes to orchestrate the outcome of your choosing?
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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