The key is how you manage each of the "one things" you do each day—the tasks,  conversations, relationships, and projects that make up your life. Remember the advice of Solomon: "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" (Proverbs 6:6). Ants are commonly thought of as industrious creatures. Ever noticed how absolutely focused they appear as they head back to their colonies, hauling crumbs several times bigger than themselves?

In this proverb, Solomon urges unmotivated individuals to follow the ant's example. He knew that people who do one thing intentionally over an extended period of time can change their lives. Don't be discouraged by how far you think you need to go. Instead, be encouraged as you consider the following:

Doing one thing to intentionally love your spouse each day will change your marriage.

Doing one thing to intentionally read God's Word and pray each day for even a few minutes will lead to spiritual growth in your life.

Doing one thing to exercise each day will lead to better physical health.

Doing one thing to be truthful and reliable each day will result in people counting on you.

Doing one thing to control your anger each day will reduce violence, abuse, and the likelihood of divorce in your home.

Doing one thing to maintain healthy opposite-sex friendships each day will prevent the destructive results from emotional or physical affairs.

Once you begin linking a number of these one small things—like pearls on a chain, each representing one small, positive change—you eventually will have a long, solid chain of improvements.

Warning: The power of one thing can be your friend or your enemy. Unfortunately, a string of negative actions also accumulates. If you ignore the signs and symptoms of poor health, for example, eventually you might find that you have a serious and advanced illness. If month after month you spend a little more money than you earn, you can wind up in serious financial trouble. If you don't discipline your child during the early years because he or she is just so cute, you are likely to raise a brat.

One small action leads to another, and they join together, for good or ill. Perhaps you have determined to improve your life before. As you probably discovered, it's far easier to slip back into destructive patterns than to achieve positive and lasting change. After all, when we do nothing, our situation just naturally deteriorates; improvement takes intentionality and consistent action. If you have tried to change before, only to give up, keep reading. The next chapter was written just for you.

From The Power of One Thing: How to Intentionally Change Your Life . Copyright © 2009 by Randy Carlson.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.