Sow a thought, reap a behavior

Sow a behavior, reap a habit

Sow a habit, reap your character

Sow your character, reap your destiny

Tribute to Magnolia S. Tolbert

Many years ago my late sister sent me this short yet powerful statement you read above. For many of us life comes down to the fact that our destiny starts in thought, followed by deed. (Now this is not referring to those who are born in situations or geographical locations that may breed oppression and powerlessness that is out of their control. This statement is referring to those of us who have been granted power, the ability to choose and change the direction of our lives if we decide to do so). Decisions throughout the day are always leading us on a path. In so doing, we can choose life or death, so to speak; freedom or bondage; peace or confusion; contentment or anguish, and the list goes on. The course of our day is predicated on single decisions made for the moment. In turn, a momentary choice can extend from a day, to weeks, to months and sometimes years.

Is the outcome the end we want? Will our today shape our tomorrow the way we envision our best life to be, or no? These are questions to ask ourselves when presented with options based on a moment in time; which can influence the rest of our life. You see, while moments are (mynute) minute, they expand beyond what see or experience in the present.

That said, let’s reel this in backward beginning with destiny. How do you see yourself in the future? What does your day hold; what are you doing, working, going to school; how do you dress; are you walking, driving, cycling; do you own a home, rent; what does your life look like; how do you envision your life to be? What choices can be made in the present to develop the character you see in the future? Will an adjustment in any of the above cultivate the character you visualized? Truth be told, most people must act upon something in their life to get what they picture to materialize. This calls for a change of habits.

Habits make it happen

What behavior(s) do we repeat that has formed a habit that either help or hinder us in reaching our goal? Think about it. When it comes to some habits, an exchange must take place. Behavior(s) we need to change in order to reach our destiny are as basic as stopping one action and starting another. Developing a habit can be as simple as changing the places we go, alter activities we do, or change our circle of people; begin to socialize with those that affirm our identity vs detract from it, and so on. A straightforward example is to stop procrastinating and start doing what has been put off. Whichever the choice consistency is the key; small movements can make a big difference, one action at a time.

Just do it

Know this, sometime we need to practice a behavior for the mindest to catch up and take hold. At times this can “feel” uncomfortable, like a piece of clothing that does not quite fit yet, until one grows into it. The key word here is “practice” the formation of a habit until the mind hooks up with it. Allow me to share a snippet from a Psychology paper I wrote titled “Attitudes and Behavior:”

“Behavior can also influence an individual’s viewpoint rather than one’s stance dictating performance. An example of how “acting” impacts a persons nature is a Residential Treatment facility for Women (which I am not at liberty to identify). It is an inpatient facility that treats and houses recovering addicts, alcoholics, bulimic, and anorexic clients. These clients’ are accustomed to basically every waking moments being focused on how to obtain drugs/alcohol; or binging and purging as they calculate their next opportunity of how to carry it out discreetly. In addition, most of these residents are apathetic with the exception of energy spent to reach their goal; which is use drugs, alcohol, binge and purge. During their stay, women of all ethnic groups, ages and backgrounds engage in a plan tailored to address specific issues along with program (house) rules everyone must follow. With the implementation of daily living skills, chores such as cleaning, cooking, meal planning and no television before 6pm; a strict meeting regimen (attending at least three AA, CA, NA or OA meetings a week) along with in-house groups; and job search or the pursuit of education. These are normal day to day activities that the majority of responsible adults engage in; but with addiction or whatever disease plagues them, they either got lost along the way or have never been exposed to a healthy lifestyle to begin with. It is the beginning of normalizing their life. The biggest challenge is their head is not yet involved in the process; clients enter treatment in denial, angry, fearful, and unaware of where to start to promote change. The program is designed to challenge self-defeating behaviors which in turn lead to a conversion of rationale. The women of this residential treatment facility experience a change in disposition through behavior modification; compliance came first, then over time a transformation in the psyche takes place.” This facility is recognized for a 90% success rate.

I confirm the power of behaviors influence on thinking, because I was one of those women. My life was radically for changed for the better; I’ve never been the same.

So what’s on your mind?

Foremost, there is our thinking. What are we thinking? Ever REALLY pay attention to your thoughts? OR are our thoughts mechanical, mindless, without scrutiny? When we make choices, are we cognizant of the effect, assess the outcome, or do we just DO? Ponder that.

It is imperative that we “STOP AND THINK” about where we want to go. The primary element to change is decisions. What, in the present can we decide upon that will redirect the course of our lives for the positive? What can bring stability to the day? While some options may be difficult, foreign or scary because of unfamiliarity; a sound choice can be made. If necessary, our social circle may need adjustment in order to move forward. I, for one understand what it is to face uncertainty. Let me present another personal note that I use to this day when change is needed. Some 30 years ago it was brought to my attention that “if I do what I always did, I’ll get what I always got.” That statement not only stuck with me, the thought alone of my circumstances becoming perpetual scared me. I also heard we are presented with two options when choosing; the fear of change or the fear of remaining the same. Moreover, pain of remaining the same can prompt a response. Also, brokenness is a catalyst to search something different. Therefore, it requires a shift in reasoning. Unfortunately, some may operate from a restricted thought pattern founded on rearing, or poor past decisions. Which brings me to the next point. “Practice paying attention” to thoughts and there origin. That said, does our mind link us to our future or bind us to the past? Wherefore, it is crucial to contemplate the way we think; it can either propel us forward or encumber us in place.

In short, we did not awake to the place that we are, decisions got us there, one at a time. Thus, decisions will bring us out, one at a time. Too, be aware that paving one’s destination is not a one-time event, it’s a process; yet consistency is the key. And please, please be realistic with yourself. Again, the course of our day is predicated on single decisions made for the moment. In turn, our momentary choice can extend from a day, to weeks, to months and sometimes years. Finally, the substitute of one behavior for another can shift the momentum of one’s life, oftentimes in the opposite direction. Always keep in mind, what you decide today fosters your tomorrow, it is your destiny.


Sow a thought, reap a behavior

Sow a behavior, reap a habit

Sow a habit, reap your character

Sow your character, reap your destiny

Beatrice Tate Jackson

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