I told you about one of my first jujitsu rolls when I unknowingly challenged a higher belt who punished my face for disrespecting him.

Well, here’s the rest of the story:

After that first fight, I started winning. And winning. And winning. I rolled against a champion wrestler and won. I fought against black belts and won. I challenged my coach (who holds a gold medal from a worldwide jujitsu competition) and won.

Well, not exactly.

If you watched, you would say I got my butt kicked every time. I was whipped by a 220-pound NCAA collegiate wrestler. (I might have been whipped by a fourteen-year-old boy who was at least fifty pounds lighter than I am, but there are no witnesses to prove it.) I was pinned, choked, smashed, and twisted into unusually awkward positions with other guys. Turns out those positions are horribly painful and impossible to escape.

From your perspective, if you saw some massive guy sitting on my head or me repeatedly tapping out, you’d say I was losing. And losing. And losing. But I would say I was winning. And winning. And winning. Why?

I started jujitsu at the age of fifty-two. I now have three stripes on my white belt and am closing in on four. Because I keep showing up. My confidence keeps increasing. And as my confidence grows, by the nature of the sport’s code, my humility grows too.22

My mind is sharper. I keep improving my skills, including all of those crazy grips. (These days my pants almost never fall down midfight.)

No matter how the results on the mats appear, I am not losing. I am winning. Because I’m in training.

This is a great place to stop and remind yourself, I’m in training. It will take some time to get where I want to go, but every day I am getting closer. And every day I do my habit, I win. That’s success to me.

I’m in training.

“I’m in training” is an important phrase for change.

You consistently engage in your strategic habit. You haven’t yet achieved your goal. But you continue to run with purpose, knowing, “I’m in training.”

This connects back to the who before do idea that identity drives behavior.

When I’m trying, it’s like I keep hoping to become something I’m not. But when I’m training, I keep getting better at what I already am!

I’m not trying. I’m in training!

  • “We aren’t trying to have a better marriage. Ours is a great marriage in training.”
  • “Oh, no thanks, I can’t have a donut. I’m in training.”
  • “I slipped up and looked at Instagram, comparing what others have with what I have. But I know that’s not who I am. I am a content, non-comparer in training!”
  • “No, we can’t sleep in and skip church. We’re in spiritual training.”
  • “I’m all alone; I could look at porn. But I won’t ’cause I’m in training.”
  • “I may never be as spiritually mature as my small-group leader, but I am in training to become who God made me to be.”

So what are we going to do?

  1. Focus on who before do. We know behavior modification doesn’t work, so we’re all about identity transformation.
  2. Define our wins. We need the direction of a goal to help us begin.
  3. Train, not try. We will embrace a strategic habit and quit a habit we need to stop. Every day we’ll live disciplined lives by choosing what we want most over what we want now.

Can you feel the power of embracing this new way to think about and believe in change?

You’re focusing on inputs, not outcomes. It’s a plot shift. A game changer that works!

If the idea of starting and sticking to a habit, or of being able to stop doing what you keep doing, sounds intimidating or undoable, take heart; we’re going to attack that in part 3.

But now you understand that you don’t have to wait six weeks or six months or six years to win. You aren’t successful just when you achieve your goal in the future. You are successful when you train today. When you’re training, you’re winning. And you can win every day!

You may not get to your goal as soon as you want. The pace of change might be a little slower than you like. You might trip up a few times as you walk toward victory. But engaging this plan will work. You will have the power to change and will see real change happen.

I’m successful when I train today.

Groeschel, Craig. 2023. The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

We have just released a new Bible Study based on Craig Groeschel’s book, The Power to Change. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.