Whether it is meals or exercise or sleep or meditation routines matter. We all know the 10,000 repetitions rule to make anything a habit. Before it can become a habit, you need to create a routine that will make it possible for your plan to materialize.
- Creatures of habit: We are all creatures of habit. Most of us have a morning routine. We get out of bed and automatically do the same things every morning without even thinking about it. So make a plan for every morning. It may be that you plan to meditate for 10-15 minutes, eat breakfast before heading out the door, go for a walk or pack your lunch. Whatever it is do it every day at the same time of the day.
- Make time: Put it on your list of things to do or on your calendar. If it’s on your list you’ll make time for it, commit to it. Want to get to a yoga class at lunch? Put it on your calendar so that other demands won’t take that time up. Time for a swim? Plan it on the calendar so you won’t take that meeting for coffee. Most electronic gadgets have a sleep timer function. Use it. You can make time for sleep.
- Use the tools: There are many tools in this modern world that can help us create and stick to our routine. Use them! Whether it is your planner, electronic calendar or post-it notes on the refrigerator, it doesn’t matter which tool. Use the one that you are comfortable with. If you know that looking at a note to self on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror or the desktop/laptop works, write yourself notes to remind if of your plan. If you are an app or phone person, use an app or the calendar reminders to help you stay on track.
- Get a buddy: A buddy gives us that external commitment. If you plan to attend a kickboxing class with a friend, you have the additional commitment to your friend and you are less likely to come up with an excuse not to go. I walk with my neighbor every morning. Believe me, there are mornings when I feel like staying in bed a little longer. Knowing that my neighbor will be waiting for me outside gets me out of bed. Plus, doing things with a buddy add a social flair. We are all social animals.
- One at a time: Pick one thing you want to make a routine. Once you feel that it is becoming a routine, you can add another goal. Being sensible about achievable goal is important. If you plan to get to a HIIT class 30 minutes after work and it takes you 20 minutes to drive there, you may be setting yourself for a lot of stress and reasons for not going if you are even 5 minutes late leaving work. Success build success. Plan to make a routine of the most feasible plan first.
- Why?: Why do you want to make it a routine? Is it important to your physical health, mental health. Will it make you happier? Is it better for your family, kids? Connect with the reason why you want a particular routine. Finding meaning also improves the chances of your success. I had a client once who wanted to go skydiving for her 60th birthday but she did not fit the weight limit. It was almost a year away and it gave her enough reason to commit to a workout and meal plan. She kept a picture of a skydiver in front of her everywhere to remind her of her “reason” to follow the routine.
What are you waiting for? What is the one thing you have been planning on? Why do you want it? Commit to self. You deserve it. Routines make it possible to accomplish our goals.