For the mommies and daddies out there you have probably read more than once in those parenting books that routine is important for your kiddos. Well, let’s take a moment and take that same advice as adults. Having a routine is important at absolutely any age and can help us achieve goals and just be overall happier and less stressed people.
The Importance of Routine – Creating a Habit
The key to success with just about any goal you set is to stick to a routine or make it a habit. For the purpose of this article, we will use running as the ultimate goal. Your new goal is to become a runner. Maybe you have never run a day in your life or you have taken a long break from your running days. Either way, you now need to make running part of your daily routine. By making this activity part of your daily routine you are aiming to make it a habit, something you do without even thinking about it.
A habit on average takes about 2 months to form. Yes, I am sorry to break it to you, but if you are looking to make a lifestyle change and achieve a goal you need to stick with it for at least 2 months in order to make it a habit. Once something becomes a habit it becomes much easier to just do.
However, even after something becomes a habit it is incredibly easy to fall out of the habit. You still need to be dedicated and mindful of this new behavior because it can be easily lost Again, let’s take running as an example. You take an entire week off of training. Once you take this week off you will find how much harder it is to pull your body out of bed at 4am to get your run in before you start your day. Leaving you to think, “Why did I take that week off? It was so much easier before!” Stick to the habit/routine.
How to Create the Habit
Okay, got it. I just need to stick with it for 2 months and voila! No problem I am now a runner without even thinking about it. Oh goodness if only it were that easy. Creating a habit, especially when the activity is uncomfortable, like running, is not easy. If you are like any other human being on this planet you will start off super pumped and dedicated to sticking with this new behavior. Patting yourself on the back for every run completed and boasting about your new routine.
However, after a week or so goes by you find yourself easily making excuses not to go for that morning run. You justify these excuses by saying that work needs to come first, my family is more important than this, etc. These are simply excuses. You have 24 useable hours every day just like everyone else. If you are feeling like running is getting in the way of work or family time you simply need to take a look at your schedule and get more creative. Figure out a time that actually works for you and your entire family. Treat this time as a non-negotiable meeting just like you would with work. Because guess what? If you don’t physically make the time, the time will not be there to continue this new behavior.
Build a Positive Habit Around Something You Actually Enjoy
Pick something positive that you actually enjoy. It will be much easier to build a new routine and develop a habit when you actually enjoy the activity. Be prepared that some days you might simply not feel like doing this activity. It is completely normal, however, that is no excuse to not follow through with your goals of developing this routine.
There is something to be said about doing things that we sometimes do not enjoy…it makes us mentally tougher. David Goggins, an idol of mine, discusses this quite in-depth in his motivational speeches and his book, “Can’t Hurt Me”, which I would highly recommend checking him out and giving his book a read. He has some pretty amazing words of wisdom about the power of the mind.
Okay so back to habit! Let’s again chat running. There are a lot of days that I simply do not feel like going for a run. However, I remember that this is what I wanted. This goal is important to me and the only way to achieve anything worthwhile in life is through hard work. Acknowledging that somedays I just need to do it even it is not 100% enjoyable. After the run, even if it was a bad run, I still can say that any run was better than no run. This applies to any goal you have set for yourself.
Be Prepared – Set Backs Happen
Remember setbacks happen. It is normal to find a routine, develop the habit, and then lose it. Just because you lost it does not mean it can’t be found again. I have taken many many breaks from running. Yes, it does suck having to build that habit back up again, but you can do it. You did it once, now you just have to do it again.
The Value of Mixing Up Routine
So now you realize the importance of routine and habit…now let me blow your mind and talk a bit about the importance of mixing things up! You have worked hard and developed a new positive habit and now I am going to tell you to change it. Leaving you to think, “Seriously…?” Yes, seriously! One of the best things we can do for our brain health is to mix things up! I am not saying to completely throw your new habit out of the window, but what I am saying is don’t be afraid to change things up every once in a while. Running, for example, if you are normally a very early morning runner try mixing it up on the weekends, go for a run in the afternoon and maybe extend your normal running time. Keep the same habit, but maybe mix it up slightly. This can also help combat some boredom with routine and habit.
Take Home Message
Long story long, routine and habit are good for us. It can help make life easier for us as we don’t really have to think about certain things and it is the only way to achieve your goals. That being said, don’t be afraid to mix up your routine a bit to keep things more exciting!