How To Make & Stick With a Routine
Written by: Melissa Fiorenza
Happens every time. You say you’re going to hit the gym right from the office, then make dinner. You promise yourself you’re going to have a healthy glass of lemon water every morning before work. You decide you’re going to do a forearm plank for one-minute at 3 pm every day.
But then you fail to create the routine and stick with it. And that’s why you’re reading this.
Whatever it is you really, really, really want to happen on the regular, here’s what you need to know and do to actually get started and enjoy the ongoing results. Follow these directions!
1. Mark your calendar & set an alarm
No, really. As minor as the routine may be (like that forearm plank mentioned above), set an alarm on your phone or computer for it and block out that time on your shared work or personal calendar. When you don’t, you run the risk of forgetting your new “routine” or being interrupted by others—so that even when you know you have something to do, you’re too distracted to get to it and then your allotted time for it passes by.
2. Tell someone
Post about your new routine on Facebook, tell a friend or share it with your coworkers. In an article he wrote on Medium, columnist Thomas Oppong wrote: “The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.” Bonus tip: ask your friend to text you every now and then to see if you’re following through. “Hey, Melissa, did you do a Beachbody On Demand video tonight?”
3. Give yourself an incentive
We tell kids if they do X, Y, and Z every day for a month, they get a reward, right? So why not adults? Just make sure it’s a healthy one—or something that doesn’t undo the benefits of your new routine. For example, if your new morning routine consists of getting up at 5 am, running on the treadmill, having a cup of coffee by yourself while reading a few pages of your book, and then getting dressed for work… then promise yourself that after X amount of months, if you successfully established your new AM, you get to upgrade your treadmill or buy a new batch of exercise clothes.
4. Set yourself up for success
Going with the treadmill example, here’s one way to set yourself up for success: sleep in your gym shorts and top. If your new routine is to drink that lemon water, make sure lemons are on your grocery list every Sunday so you’re never without. If your new routine is to read books at night instead of watch TV, cut out cable! Think of a few ways you can make your routine a no-excuses part of your day, and hold yourself accountable.
5. Give it time
On average, it takes more than two months—66 days to be exact—before a new behavior becomes automatic. Obviously there are a lot of factors involved, but that’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things. Be patient, remember why you’re doing this (in fact, write your reasons down and hang them up on the fridge!), and keep going. You’ll get to a point where you’ll almost feel guilty, or bummed!, if something gets in the way of your new routine. And when that happens, that’s a sure sign that your new way of life has made itself comfortable. You got this!