Where Are Your Habits Leading You?
June 2024

Digital Only: Young Adults

Where Are Your Habits Leading You?

If you’re not careful, your habits and lifestyle choices can lead you away from the Savior.

a young adult setting the habit of reading his scriptures

Have you ever looked at your life and realized that you don’t really like the habits you’re forming? Or that certain habits have slipped past what you thought your standards were? Whether it’s the language you use, the media you consume, the way you treat others, how you interact on social media, or the way you spend your time, you might not always realize it, but those little choices you make can form patterns in your life.

This can be alarming if you suddenly realize that you’ve been subconsciously forming habits or routines that don’t match up with what you believe or who you want to become.

The good news is that the gospel of Jesus Christ actually teaches us a lot about how to make good choices, change our unwanted habits, and form a pattern of righteous living.

Making Conscious Choices

During a worldwide devotional to the young adults of the Church, President Russell M. Nelson shared: “Now, this is a singular time in your life. There won’t be another quite like it. You are establishing priorities and patterns that will dramatically affect not just your mortal life but also your eternal life.”

This time in life sets the stage for what kind of life you want to live. So it’s important that we are conscious about the choices we make, especially when it comes to the things we do and the way we act every single day. With so many different choices, how can we know what to choose in the moment?

Sister Wendy W. Nelson asked young adults to consider one life-changing question: “What would a holy young adult do?” This question “can help you pursue what is really important in life, help you make changes in your life that you want to make, and can even help you truly repent.”

Our gift of agency is given by God and allows us to willingly choose to be like the Savior. Thinking about the choices you make each day—especially the ones that might be becoming habits—ask yourself:

“Is this what a holy young adult would do?”

“Is this how a holy young adult would spend their time? talk about others? use social media?”

Considering these questions can help us recognize some potential bad habits that can be replaced with better ones.

Breaking Habits

Bad habits are often best overcome by replacing them with something good.

You might have a habit of using bad language in heated situations or having judgmental thoughts about others. The way that we talk in general, and even the way we talk and think about others, can impact our receptiveness to the Spirit. So be intentional about looking for the good in people. If you feel like gossiping, replace judgmental comments with something kind and uplifting.

When it comes to media, consider how the types of media you habitually consume are affecting your emotional and spiritual well-being. Think of the movies, books, TV shows, music, and social media you consume each day. How do they make you feel? How do they influence your thoughts? Do they bring you closer to the Savior?

What we choose to fill our lives with will influence how we think, speak, and behave, which determines our spiritual direction.

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) taught about how our thoughts shape our character:

“Sow a thought, reap an act,

“Sow an act, reap a habit,

“Sow a habit, reap a character,

“Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny.”

If it feels hard for you to give up some media that isn’t uplifting, try replacing it with productive and enriching sources. Take small steps each day to limit your time spent consuming social and other types of media, and replace that time with something more worthwhile.

Building Habits

On the flip side, what if we want to create a brand-new good habit, like exercising, daily scripture study, or journaling?

Great things are often brought to pass “by small and simple things” (Alma 37:6). When we start to create a good habit, we need to focus on small and simple efforts:

  • Start with one reachable goal. This will help you to be consistent and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  • Make your new habit something that you can enjoy doing—something that you actually want to work on.

  • Tell a friend, family member, or co-worker about your goals. This will help you feel accountable.

  • Remember to be adaptable. It’s OK to adjust your plan!

These daily efforts we make to improve and come closer to Christ will make a big difference in our trajectory. Setbacks can be part of the process when creating a Christlike pattern of living. But Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us that even though “minor deviations can draw us out of the Savior’s Way, so too can small and simple acts of realignment assuredly lead us back.”

Our Ability to Change

Think again about your habits or lifestyle. Are any of them harmful to you spiritually, physically, or emotionally? Susanna Wesley, mother of 18th-century Christian leaders John and Charles Wesley, suggested: “Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”

Consider what habits are distancing you from Christ. Choose one of those unwanted habits and commit to replacing it with a small and simple act that will bring you closer to the Savior.

Maybe you’ll try replacing negative self-comparison by jotting down things you’re grateful for.

Or you could replace time scrolling on social media with time spent on a walk with someone you love.

Whatever habits you choose to build or break, Jesus Christ will strengthen you as you work toward worthy goals. The daily changes you make will eventually change your nature and deepen your relationship with Him and Heavenly Father.

President Nelson reminds us that “nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance.”

As we keep trying to improve even in these simple ways, we will notice our individual progression, better recognize the Spirit, and fill our lives with joy.