I recently lost 40 pounds. People ask me how I do it, and I joke that the answer was simple for me. I did build routine after routine after routine. I cultivated several routines until all of the healthy habits I wanted to be successful at have become the background noise of my life.
Once my house was clean I suddenly had the mental energy to begin my journey of self-awareness. I began to focus on the healthy habits that I wanted to build.
After I had my list of healthy habits (fitness goals, meal planning, and cleaning routines to name a few,) I knew that I was going to have to be strategic about how I introduced these new habits into my lifestyle. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed and ditch my efforts halfway through, as was my usual pattern. Routines saved me. Afterwards, I wondered at the fact that I used the power of routine in my classroom, but had never thought to use the same power in my life.
Automate your Life
Why is it important to create a morning routine? Our willpower is a like a gas tank.When we first wake up, if we’ve had a solid amount of healthy sleep, we have a full tank. Every decision you make throughout the day depletes your tank a little bit. Routines are ways that you can automate your behavior and actions so that there is no decision to waste your willpower and you get the things that are important to you done.
The first thing you need to decide is when do you want to do your routine? I would start with a single routine. Slow, purposeful change is a change that will fundamentally change your life. I don’t say that lightly. Routines have helped me lose 30 lbs, routines have helped me declutter my home and keep it clean, and routines have helped me automatically make healthy decisions every day.
What do you want to accomplish during your routine? It’s important to know what you want to have done at the end of your routine. Do you want to have your work bag ready by the door for grab and go? Do you want to walk a mile? This is when I think about the healthy behaviors and decisions that I want to make.
How are you going to accomplish the tasks you want to accomplish during your routine? This is KEY. It’s easy to say that you’re going to “be more active,” or that you’re going to “work out,” but what does that look like? What will that look like every day? It’s important to figure out a realistic way to meet your goals.
4. Make Lists
Use check off lists to access the rewards center of your brain. There’s a reason that people spend money on digital goods like gems on freemium games. Setting goals and meeting goals make our brains happy. Research shows that if you write something down, your chances of completing the task drastically improve. I love lists, that’s why I adore my Digital Bullet Journal.
Spend time practicing the different elements of your routine, physically and mentally. Research shows that visualization has real, measurable effects on improvement. Spend time practicing the mechanics of the routine. If you want to get up and put your workout clothes on first thing in the morning, put them right next to your alarm on the other side of the room. Darken your room as much as you can. Set your cell phone for 3 minutes. Get into bed and make an authentic effort to relax. When the alarm goes off, jump directly out of bed and throw on those clothes. Try to practice a few times a day before you commit to your routine.
6. Reflect & Adapt
Routines need to be living things. That means that you need to constantly ask yourself what’s working and what needs to change. This is one of the most important parts of building routines. Before we can cultivate a life, we need to examine how well things work for us. Pay attention to how successful your routine is making you feel. What parts are working? If pieces of your routine stress you out, if there are pieces that you aren’t looking forward to, I would suggest that you spend some time examining why and come up with a different plan.