While spontaneity has its benefits (and should definitely be a part of your life!), we all know that the counter-balance is just as necessary for success:
Developing a routine.
But not just any routine. A routine that is sustainable and can realistically support and carry you to your goals.
Many routines can be unsustainable, leading to frustration, and even giving up on your goals.
The tips below are crucial to avoiding this.
Steps To Creating A Sustainable Routine
1. Mindfully Plan
Obviously, new goals are exciting. Usually when we set them, our motivation is high (perhaps it’s the New Year and we’re pumped up with everyone else to be making a change) and we feel extremely optimistic.
To begin, this is awesome, and it’s an energy we definitely want to hold on to!
However, balance is also extremely important at this stage. Big dreams, after all, need a foundation … and that foundation is typically a plan.
When we talk about sustainability in a routine, what we’re really talking about is making sure that your goals are able to integrate into your daily life. Of course, starting something new always requires a restructuring of your life, but unless you’re able to, both financially and otherwise, completely overhaul your old life and drop everything, you want to make sure your goals “fit” into the larger routine of your life right now.
As an example, say your goal is to participate in a fitness competition by the end of the year. Awesome goal, right?
What you want to do is make sure that this goal is in alignment with what you can realistically afford to commit to each day. If reaching this goal by the end of the year requires hour-long workouts roughly 6 days a week, is this doable for you? If it currently isn’t due to having kids or any other life factors, you don’t need to throw up your hands and drop the goal: you simply might have to extend your deadline date!
This is just an abstract example, but it holds true for any goal: are you able to sacrifice what you need to in order to reach that goal, or will you be setting yourself up for burnout and eventual disappointment?
By planning early, you set yourself up for success.
2. Set Small Milestone Goals
One way to create routines that “stick” on the path toward your goals is to set mini goals. Large goals are amazing for the “big picture” of what you’re working toward, but focusing too much on how far we have left to go before we reach that goal can cause us to feel disappointment.
Creating mini goals allows us to constantly take note of our progress, which is essential on the path to the larger goal. Until we can quantum leap into a new body or a new mind, there will always be a process to eventual achievement!
Small goals related to health can be adding veggies to every meal, committing to training 4 days a week, committing to walking 5,000 steps per day, committing to reading 4 pages of a book per night, etc …
This gives concreteness and a path toward a larger goal, so it seems less intimidating (and therefore you’re less likely to avoid reaching for it!).
Once you start your new routine, you want to set aside time to reflect. By avoiding reflection, we can easily (and impulsively) decide that “we’ll never reach this goal because of x, y, and z” and simply quit.
Reflection takes a pause, and asks why something is or isn’t working. Is everything not working, or are there certain things that are working? How can you restructure things to mimic what is working? Do you need to commit more or less time? Do you need to rearrange your diet slightly? Focus on possibilities and solutions before you allow yourself to get frustrated enough to throw in the towel.
4. Remember “Why”
Now, this one is the opposite of setting mini goals, but it is also just as crucial: remembering your “big Why.”
This is the reason behind why you want to accomplish your goal (and the reason my apparel line is called Find Your Reason!). Why you are sticking to this routine. Why, if you don’t stick to your commitments, you’ll regret it at the end of your life.
In low moments, it helps to remember this purpose. It’s your north star.
Set reminders of your reason on your phone, on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge … anywhere you need it.
5. When Motivation Fails, Rely On This
Many people will suggest otherwise, but the reality is: motivation isn’t a constant. No matter how many inspirational podcast/talks/books etc … that you listen to or read, or how much knowledge you have, there are going to be days (or even weeks) where you are NOT motivated.
But guess what? Accepting this right off the bat allows you to rely on something much more reliable:
Discipline doesn’t need to feel motivated. It stems from will. It reminds you that you made a commitment. That regardless of how you feel, how badly you want to slack off or fall into old habits, you will get up and do the damn thing anyway.
Discipline has no room for excuses, and will save you from years of procrastination.
Make a promise to yourself that you will follow through on your goals, on your routine, on whatever you need to do to become who you were meant to.