Whether you are hyper-organized, scheduling your day to the minute, or are instead, someone that is happier going with the flow, each one of us has a routine. You may not realize it, but you do! We all do. It is the framework of habitual practices – both good and bad – that sets the tone for our day, contributing to who we are, who we may become and how we are perceived by others. It encompasses far more than just our organizational skills. A good routine has potential-unlocking power. A bad routine can prohibit our pathway to success, whatever success means to you.
In this newsletter we cover the following topics:
– Building a positive routine
– Setting good habits whilst reducing/stopping bad habits
– The 66-day rule: how to add any habit to your routine, permanently
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
Let’s start in the morning. How does your day begin? The choices we make in the morning have a huge impact on the rest of our day. Whilst we may intend to start the day on the best foot, often, our mornings are when we feel the most tired and void of the willpower necessary to make good choices. It is for this reason that we must harness the awesome power of routine. If you can help it, don’t let the most tired version of you make important decisions. By setting a carefully scheduled routine, you will relieve yourself of any early morning decision making responsibilities, instead running on autopilot as you navigate through important tasks. You will also reduce opportunities to procrastinate, and this can be a real time saver when you’re not yet fully awake.
Here is an example of what we mean. Say you plan on kickstarting a new chapter of your life with a greater focus on fitness and mental health. Going for a brisk 30 minute walk each morning would likely benefit both of your new goals. That being said, if you are very busy, any more than 30 minutes may derail your day. The simple task of laying your clothes out and locating your raincoat (just in case!) the night before will allow you to run on autopilot. Whilst this change may be very small, it would potentially save you 5-10 minutes. Analyze your day and think of other opportunities.
“Successful people are simply those with successful habits” – Brian Tracy
“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you.” – Tahir Shah
For most people, good actions that are adopted fail to stick for the long-term. The same is true of the bad habits we intend to reduce. This process, in effect, becomes a perpetual cycle where our efforts lead to disappointment, that then leads to more effort and in turn, more disappointment. The good news is that in most cases, our inability to maintain good actions and ward off bad ones is often simply due to consistency and our expectations. Both of which, can be harnessed for our benefit and to vastly increase the probability of actions becoming habits, in that they become so much a part of our lives that we do them without consideration.
The rule here is to commit to the action for at least 66 days. This is the minimum time period that the average person will take to see an action become a habit. If going for a brisk morning walk is something you would like to do each day for the foreseeable future, committing to do it every day for 66 days in a row will vastly increase the probability of you still doing it this time next year. The same is true of the bad habits you wish to remove from your life. If you intend to reduce the amount of time you spend each day zombie scrolling social media, commit to do it for 66-days and you will have a far greater chance of making the change permanent.
If 66 days feels like an impossible commitment, you can try a lighter version that has also been shown to convert actions into habits. Still using the same time period of 66 days, allow yourself 3 days off. You may choose when to take those days off – for example, if one of your actions is to avoid alcohol but you have an important function coming up like a wedding party or birthday, choose to take this day off. Please note, however, to get the best results, it is important to:
Consistency is key! Over time, your habits will naturally evolve. Consider the net effect of reducing the time you spend doing something negative – that time will be filled by something else that may, in time, become a new positive habit in its own right.
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