Someone recently asked me how to strictly follow a routine. She was upset because she had failed on her very first day, even though she had kept it very “simple and achievable.”
Sound familiar? You decide you want to improve yourself and you come up with a plan and you’re all excited and raring to go. This new routine will have you exercising more, eating healthier, meditating, journaling. And you’ll probably getting up earlier every day as well because you read somewhere that all the best people do.
The best intentions…
The night before you start, you lie awake in bed super excited and motivated to start your new routine. You envision yourself looking and feeling amazing, the wind blowing through your hair as you go for that run, or maybe your soon-to-be graceful body wrapped in spandex while you do a perfect downward dog pose. And afterwards, you envision whipping up a green smoothie and taking some quiet time for self-reflection.
And then your alarm goes off and you hit snooze and your perfect vision of your perfect new healthy routine goes up in smoke. You don’t get up earlier, and you don’t go for that walk, and you don’t have time to prepare that healthier meal.
Then half the day is gone and you haven’t meditated or written in your journal, and you wonder where the time went. You then decide that today is a complete loss and you’ll just have to start your new routine tomorrow. But then the same thing happens the next day… It’s enough to make you give up and probably hate yourself a little.
But don’t despair!
You may just have bitten off more than you can chew. If you want to really incorporate new habits into your life then try doing it ONE thing at a time. Otherwise you may feel overwhelmed. And if you don’t achieve one or more things from your seemingly “simple list”, you will feel like a failure. That’s bad for your morale and will make you feel like you’re just not capable or strong enough to control your life.
I feel like you might need a big hug and some friendly words of encouragement right about now! It’s going to be OK. You’re going to be OK!
Here’s what you’re going to do.
Start your new routine with the one thing that is most important to you – something you will feel really motivated to do. This will be easier to achieve and you will feel so good about yourself. This will help you to feel empowered and then you’ll be able to gradually add more new things to your routine.
Before you begin, you want to clear any obstacles to this new habit such as…
1. I’ll start tomorrow:
Be prepared for your Ego to try and talk you out of it. So, before you start, try and come up with all the arguments you might have against trying this new routine and prepare a counter-argument. For example: when I first started doing early morning walks and the alarm would go off, my inner voice would tell me how tired I was and that I should just go back to sleep.
So I learned to talk back! I would ask myself if I would actually feel more rested if I stayed in bed – awake – for an extra half hour with the snooze alarm going off every 10 minutes… nope. And then I would remind myself of how awake and energised and clear headed I would feel if I got up and took a 15 minute walk. This would help me get up and do it.
2. I don’t have what I need:
Also prepare anything you need for your new routine. This will make it easy, so you don’t have any excuse to not do it. Continuing from my previous example, I would lay my walking clothes out the night before so everything was ready to go. I didn’t have to stumble around in the dark and wake everyone up. Or if it’s a diet, then make sure you have all of the right food you need in the house.
3. I forgot:
Sometimes it helps to have reminders for yourself. For example, if you were trying to drink 2 litres of water per day, there are apps that keep track of your water intake and remind you to drink. Or schedule things in your calendar and set alarms.
And finally, do this one new habit for 3 weeks before you start something new. Try to do it every day (5 times a week also works). If, in spite of having cleared all of your obstacles, you miss a day, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! That is counterproductive and really toxic for you! Just say “Oh well, tomorrow is new day,” and take it from there.
You want to get to the point where your new routine is such a natural part of your life that you can’t imagine not doing it. Then you can add the next thing. Slow and steady wins the race!
RECAP FOR A SUCCESSFUL NEW ROUTINE
- Start with one thing
- Clear any obstacles in your way
- Prepare counter arguments for any excuses
- Make sure you have everything you need
- Build in reminders
- Do it every day for 3 weeks before starting something new
- Give it your best and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day!
I wish you the best of luck and please do let me know if I can help you in any way!
Anxious all the time and can’t just ‘will away’ your stress?
WANT TO FEEL BETTER QUICKLY AND EASILY?
Imagine waking up feeling great every morning, looking in the mirror and loving what you see, being crystal clear about who you are and what kind of life you want for yourself, without running off to Costa Rica for a month-long retreat, or worrying that it’ll just mean adding 50 more things to your to do list.