How to Create a Life-Changing Routine
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When you think of routines, do you think of words like – boring, inflexible, rigid, and stressful?
What if I told you that your routine could actually be fun, flexible, reliable, and an important driver in your life.
All of us have routines – even if we don’t realize it.
Maybe you wake up and check your social media sites – that’s a routine.
Maybe you watch TV as soon as you get home from work – that’s a routine as well.
All of these bad habits that we’ve accumulated usually make up a big portion of our life. We just think of them as bad habits – not the accumulation of a bad routine.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I’d like you to take a look at the four rules I personally implemented when starting my journey.
The First Rule
The first rule to building a fabulous routine is to understand that creating a new routine means breaking bad habits – which is hard.
Whoever said creating a life-changing routine would be easy was lying.
Have you ever tried to break a bad habit before – like smoking? It’s really hard but once you quit, you never want to go back to the way it was before. Your entire perspective on smoking changes for the better.
The Second Rule
You actually need to follow all of the steps outlined in this post. At first, it may feel overwhelming – but even just implementing a single thing into your routine every few days will make a difference.
Try and forget all of your previous ideas of what should make up an ideal routine and focus within yourself. What do you want out of this routine? Why do you want a routine so badly? What should this routine accomplish for you?
Knowing this will help you to stay focused and motivated when you start to feel overwhelmed about the idea of following a routine.
The Third Rule
Are you one of the individuals who try something new and quit after things get hard?
The most important thing for a routine is consistency. Even if you don’t accomplish what you’re wanting – just showing up is more important.
Remember, this routine is to make your life better. Always show up for yourself even if you don’t want to.
If you struggle with consistency, you can scroll down to the ‘Four Struggles of Routine’, I go more in-depth.
The Fourth Rule
You have to accept that failure is a part of the process. You are not going to be perfect and never fail.
Why isn’t it working? Is there something you’re not doing? Is there something else you could do instead?
Don’t bash yourself – love yourself enough to improve.
When I first started implementing a routine in my life, I was irritated. Watching YouTubers and reading articles about how routines changed their life motivated me, but I kept feeling unsure of myself. Why are others able to keep a routine but I can’t? Am I broken?
It weirdly felt as if I needed an expert to build a routine for me – because creating one myself seemed impossible.
As you can tell – this is no longer the case.
I have come a long way in just two short years of experimentation about all things productivity, and now I have the privilege to talk and teach others about my experience.
I hope you stay for this entire post because I believe that your perspective, experiences, and life will be changed for the better.
Take Responsibility for Yourself
After too many failed attempts at creating amazing routines for myself – I finally decided to make a change. I decided that I would not give up on myself and I would keep trying until I figured out how to make it work.
Most of us aren’t taught how to manage our time, hold down jobs, be productive while happy, or have consistent daily routines. And some of us weren’t raised in an environment where these ideals were displayed to us.
Because that’s what you’re signing up for when you create a life-changing routine – a fulfilled and happy life.
At this moment in time, I can whole-heartedly say that the benefits of a routine are worth the confusion and difficulty when first starting them.
I’m able to consistently follow my routine every day. Not only am I consistent, but I enjoy it and find it comforting. Just because I’m consistent doesn’t mean that I don’t have to deal with unexpected events. But the great thing is – I know exactly what to do when these things happen.
Honestly, where I’m at in this moment feels exactly where I’m supposed to be.
I hope that by creating your own personalized routine, you’ll feel this way as well. You will be consistent with a realistic and easily followed routine. It will also be flexible enough for many different types of dreams, goals, and ambitions that you have.
How to Prepare for Your Routine
When first starting a routine, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Your Routine Will be a Mess
When starting a new routine, you’ll find that the first few weeks are an absolute mess. You have to face the fact that no routine is ‘perfect’ and that you’ll have to constantly be moving things around.
This is what I like to call the ‘routine growth phase’ because you’ll be changing your schedule so much. Expect and welcome it!
It’ll Be Changing With You
As you grow into life, your routine will change over and over again. This is the great thing about routines, they’re adaptable. But because of this, you’ll have to learn when you should and shouldn’t change a well-made routine.
Others Steal (or borrow) Your Time
You notice the people around you are using up more of your time than you expected. I was really surprised when I first started time-blocking that I was spending more time with my boyfriend than I was with others and myself combined!
Too Many Or Not Enough Priorities
When building your routine you’re faced with the realization that you either have too much going on – or you have a boring life.
“Knock-Knock” “Who Is It?” “Time-Management”
This is probably one of the hardest things about building a routine – but not often talked about. You have to learn and know about time management to build a good routine.
I’ll put the basics here:
- Have 3 main priorities a day
- Give yourself enough ‘free time’
- Know when and how to work
- Know where to spend your time
Is it a Bad Routine or Are You Being Lazy?
Are you purposefully sabotaging yourself? Or are you not taking responsibility for your time and actions?
A big part of creating a routine is to look honestly at yourself and determine whether or not you’re giving the proper effort. You may have to face the reason that you’re not able to cope with routines is actually the fault of your own – not the making of a bad routine.
You’re Breaking Bad Habits – Give Yourself a Break
You’ll need to be prepared for the mental toll a routine may take. Like I mentioned before, you are going to be breaking bad habits that you’ve had – maybe for years.
You have to be kind to yourself when you fail and try and keep a positive mindset. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have feelings – rather I’m saying you should work through why you’re having the feelings.
When you get to the root cause of feelings, you’re better able to understand how you can work with them rather than against them.
Using Maslow’s & The Coaching Wheel in Your Routine
When creating a routine it’s important to have balance in your personal and work life. I personally like to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Coaching Wheel to determine what I need to be focusing more of my time on.
Using these tools has completely changed my view on life and myself. Even thinking back to who I was and how I treated myself a year ago completely astonishes me.
If you’re looking for balance, peace, and to be fulfilled in life, I suggest you take a look at these.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology that demonstrates a 5-tier model of human needs.
You work your way (mostly) from the bottom-up until you’ve reached the level of self-actualization. In self-actualization, you’ve become free of bias and are more accepting of facts.
In the self-actualization state, you are able to become fully who you are meant to be. Not many individuals end up reaching this because it takes a lot of dedication and commitment.
The Coaching Wheel / The Wheel of Life
Coaching wheels are simply wheels used by coaches to determine how satisfied you feel with your life. The problem with doing online tests using these is that they don’t take into consideration what you PERSONALLY need, feel, and want.
Most individuals have different levels of needs and wants in their life so customize it to your standards.
The Actual Process
The process for actually building a realistic and attainable routine is in your expectations and your ability to solve routine-related problems as they arise.
One of the first stepping-stones to a great routine is the ability to set amazing goals.
Like I asked in the introduction, What do you want out of this routine? Why do you want a routine so badly? What should this routine accomplish for you?
Knowing the answers to these questions will encourage you to create a vision for the type of person you want to be.
Then you can take these visions/ideals of yourself and create goals using the SMART goals image above.
When working towards achieving your goals – make sure that you focus on one at a time. Sometimes when we’re feeling excited and motivated to change our life around we overestimate what we believe we can do in a short period of time.
By focusing on one goal at a time, we avoid feeling overwhelmed and giving up when things get difficult.
You also should give yourself rewards for accomplishing tasks or the goal itself. Just make sure the reward is worth it!
One of the key ways to avoid burning out is to give yourself more than enough time to complete your tasks.
If you feel like you’re unable to follow through with your routine, you’re doing too much. You need to add 15 to 20 minutes more for each item in your schedule.
If you feel that you’re having too much downtime and are just not sure what to be doing with your time, just schedule more tasks for yourself.
I’d also like to discuss the four main struggles that I see people dealing with when creating a routine.
When some individuals create their routine, they go completely in-depth about the goals, aspirations, and achievements they want to have. But when it comes to actually following through with these things – they just ‘hope’ that everything will pan out as hoped.
When it comes to putting in any actual real-world effort or application – they give up.
I wrote an article about how to quit half-assing everything if you’re interested in giving it a read.
Make sure when you’re building your schedule, you spend MORE time actually doing the schedule than you do planning and making it.
I’d say that 10 minutes to plan out your daily routine is enough when you’re getting started.
The other extreme of half-assing is perfectionism. Some individuals expect perfection from themselves and their routines. This can be crippling and cause you to feel overwhelmed, irritated, and overall exhausted.
When you start following a routine – you need to have the expectation that you and your schedule will fail.
Failing and sucking the first few times is the key ingredient to building an awesome, realistic, and amazing routine for yourself.
Instead of looking at your schedule as a task of things you have to do in order perfectly, look at it as a science experiment where you’re the ‘research organism’.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing that – you could just read my blog post about procrastination and perfectionism.
Procrastination is another big issue that people deal with when creating their schedules. This usually happens because their environment is set up against them and they don’t give themselves consequences for not completing their work.
Once again – feel free to check out my article on overcoming procrastination and perfectionism.
Being consistent is closely related to not procrastinating. In order to be consistent, you need to be able to rely on habits.
This is obviously a problem if you’re just starting a new routine. So, you need to work from the bottom up and start creating habits.
In order to start creating habits, you need to use the habit loop.
Here’s a quick example:
The habit I want to build: I want to start working out every day, consistently.
Cue: Drinking Pre-Workout
Craving: Driving to the gym (A craving is different for everyone and develops as a result of a good cue, response, and reward) (So don’t try to create a craving – it will come naturally)
Response: Working Out for 1 Hour
Reward: Lunch (You want to make your reward obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.)
Protect Your Schedule at All Costs
The final way to create a life-changing routine is to get rid of all of the things that will ruin your new schedule.
It is almost impossible to succeed in an environment that is against you.
You need to get rid of both environmental distractions and distractions from tasks you’re working on.
Falling into Bad Habits
Falling into bad habits is inevitable. There are steps you can take so you don’t fall into any – but more than likely you’ll end up picking one up anyways.
The most important thing is that you’re prepared for bad habits to come, and are well-equipped to deal with them.
The way you can do this is by being mindful and present of yourself and your surroundings. When you’re able to acknowledge and identify a bad habit, you’ll be able to deal with it.
Not Taking Responsibility for Your Time
No one is going to hold your hand and walk you through life.
No one, but yourself.
When taking this journey to build a new life-changing routine, you need to learn to love yourself and the time you’ve been given. A part of loving yourself is by taking responsibility.
Being responsible for yourself means saying no, setting boundaries, learning to live a balanced life, and taking responsibility for the time you do have.
There will be people, things, ideas, and habits that come in and out of your life, it is up to you to determine what is and is not worth your time.
You’ll be amazed to find that you have a lot more control over your life and situations than you think you do.
Quitting When Things Get Tough
The last barrier to living and creating a balanced life-changing routine is quitting when things get difficult.
As stated above, you are responsible for yourself and your life. You only get one – live it to the fullest and never give up on yourself or your goals.
What Are You Doing Today for Future You?
Before I wrap up this article, I want you to really think about whether or not the things you’re doing now are helping to create a better future for yourself.
Where will you be if you continue this same path in 1 year, 2 years, or even 10 years? Will you be happy with your life or will you be drowning in debt, bad habits, alcohol, drugs, or repressed anger and sadness?
You have the ability to be, do, and accomplish what we want in life – the only question I ask is: Will you take action today to achieve what you want tomorrow?
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