So here it is, it’s “back-to-school” season! After summer break, when everything stops or slows down, it’s time for new routines, new intentions, big decisions… for a lot of us, that spike of energy is an opportunity to implement new habits! And that’s great! But let’s face it, how many of those new resolutions go right through the window after a few weeks and leave us feeling depressed…
So since I’ve got a little experience in the field of new resolutions that last no longer than a carton of milk (almond milk of course 😅) in the fridge, I’ve decided to share a few of the tips I’ve come to learn to keep it up! Of course, as usual, these are just “my two cents”, coming from my personal experience, and in no way an absolute truth!
- Be realistic!
After a few failures, I’ve come to realise that there’s indeed only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week! Yup! It’s good to dive into new things, but making sure everything fits in your schedule is better! What I found helpful: write down everything you want to add into your schedule, and the number of hours it requires. Then, write down your current schedule with the recurring, fix events (working hours, daycare/school pick-up time for the kids, Sunday lunch at the in-laws, etc). Once everything’s on there, check that you have enough room left to put in the new activities. And remember, only keep what fits! Small tip: don’t put too much into your schedule, keep time for sleep and keep a few free slots so you can say yes to a dinner with friends, a night out with the babe or just for doing nothing!
- Less is more
When we think about change, we usually always see it as a good thing, especially when it’s for putting something in place that’s going to help us feel better. The problem is that our brain, instinctively, does not like change. It likes to stay in its comfort zone, without disruptions or effort. Therefore, our brain strives to make us believe that that new habit of waking up an hour earlier to run jeopardizes our survival! So the best is to train it little by little. By focusing on one or two habits at a time, we are more likely to prevent self-sabotage.
In the first few days, you will feel that getting out of bed without snoozing or opening that textbook for the exam you finally decided to take instead of turning on your TV after a long day is like pulling teeth. But that is just your brain playing tricks on you. So, one or two habits at a time is best! As for me, Bollywood dancing will have to wait for now!
- Keep it up for 21 days!
They say getting into a habit takes at least 21 days so I have a piece of advice for you: push through! Again, here’s how the brain works: when it does something new, it’s an effort, and it doesn’t like to make an effort. But if it senses that you are starting to do certain things consistently, it will make those tasks automatic and they will grow into habits. That is how they become ‘known’ and require less effort. Then again, you have to give your brain the time to accomplish that work. Therefore you have to repeat those actions a number of times to embed them in your head. Be patient! Obviously, 21 is an arbitrary number. So perhaps certain habits will take you 10 days and others 30, but you get the point, right!
- Remain flexible
It is okay to forget about our new habit, to be busy with everyday emergencies or last-minute business. What matters is that you know how to tell if you are really held up or just clearly unable to add a habit to your routine. It is best to remain flexible during the first few days or weeks, listen to your own feedback and adjust your intentions rather than forcing yourself into a stiff, strict routine from the get-go. Perhaps you will realize over time that you should leave this new practice for another day, or that it works better in the morning, for some reason! Remain open and kind to yourself, try to tell yourself the same things you would tell your best friend. That’s how you keep frustration at bay in the first few days. Because frustration does not go well with long-term growth.
So when something comes up, just breathe, relax and get organized for next time. If it persists, bend so you don’t break: change the day, time, location, or frequency, and see if it helps you improve!
- Talk about it
If you feel the need to share your new resolution with somebody who is also implementing it, that’s great. Taking on the challenge with somebody can help you stay focused and motivated! But beware, if that person quits, that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. You must be able move forward with somebody and be strong enough to keep going on your own.
But the people who support you don’t need to follow the same regimen. Sometimes it’s enough to just talk to the people around you about your intentions. First, voicing your intentions makes them real. We hear them said out loud, we embrace them, and we give them weight. Second, those who have heard these intentions can help you find that extra push you need when you lose motivation. Be careful not to fall in the ‘I’ve talked about it, now I’ll be an embarrassment if I don’t follow through’ trap though! Kindness is key, remember?
And I will conclude with the word ‘kindness’ because it may just be the most important one when you are trying to implement a new routine in your life. Your new habits have to come from a kind place and be implemented with kindness. That’s how you build a solid routine!
Have a great season, stay motivated and good practice my friends!