Q: I know what I need to do but I have trouble actually doing it consistently. Any suggestions?
A: In order to go the distance with regular routines we need to cultivate good habits and self discipline. Below are some suggestions to help you.
To be sustainable in our endeavours, we need to establish a daily routine. Pick a time of day that works best for you and try to be consist about doing your practices at that time. Sometimes it is helpful to connect that practice with something you already do routinely, like brushing your teeth for example. That way, brushing your teeth acts as a cue and a springboard into your practices, making it easier to establish them as part of your daily routine and increasing the likelihood of doing them regularly. The other option is to set a daily alarm on your phone to cue you when it is time to practice (or to take breaks to help with pacing).
Set yourself up for success
Rather than trying to do too much or make too many changes at once, start small. Pick one thing that you want to add and choose a length of time that is do-able, then establish your routine with that. Once that has been in place for a while, you can lengthen the amount of time of doing it or add more things.
Connect with your motivation and purpose
Remember why you are wanting to establish these routines. What benefits will come from regularly engaging in these practices (or breaks)? Why is it important to you to have these benefits in your life? On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to you to have these changes in your life?
Recognize the consequences of choosing not to practice regularly
If we choose not to make this a priority and establish routines around these practices, what will be the consequences of this choice? What are you giving up by maintaining the status quo?
With these last two areas, sometimes we may encounter difficultly because there may be doubt as to the level of change that is possible by establishing these practices. When we don't trust that we are capable of improving our wellbeing, it makes staying motivated and establishing routines a lot harder. In this case, see if you can't be open to the possibility that the changes you are looking for are possible, and try to set a time frame of devoting yourself to the practices and suspending judgement until that time period is up (minimum 40 days, ideally 3 months). Let your experience be the determinant of whether or not change is possible. If you have been practicing for a while and you feel stuck, and this is what is getting in the way of continuing good routines, consider getting some coaching. Sometimes we need outside help to identify what we can't see that is getting in the way of our progress.
Don't wait until you "feel like it" to do your practices
One of the biggest traps we fall into is waiting until we feel like it to do something. In the words of Joe Dispenza, "In order to change we have to think greater than how we feel." We cannot make changes from our comfort zone. Don't wait until you feel like doing something. Instead set a time of day to do it and stick with it. Some days you may have to dig deep to keep up with the routine, but after doing it for a while consistently it will get easier.
Have an accountability partner
By stating to another person your plan to do something and making a commitment to them that you will be consistent about doing it for a period of time, you increase your likelihood of follow through by over 50%. Make a commitment to text or connect with that person every day to state you have completed your practices. Have an agreement with the person that if they do not receive communication from you by a certain time in the day, that they will reach out and encourage you to complete the practices, reminding you of why it is important to you to do it. The other alternative is to write a contract to yourself about your commitment, why it is important to you, what will be the consequences of not doing it, and what you will reward yourself with when you reach your milestone. Then sign it and put it somewhere you will see it daily (like on the fridge or bathroom mirror). This is not as effective as making a commitment to another person, but it is still more effective than just making a commitment to yourself internally.
Celebrate your milestones and successes
This is particularly important when being consistent takes a lot of effort. Come up with a plan to celebrate your dedication at the end of the first week, then at the two week mark, then one month milestone, and so on. Pick something that is meaningful to you, and really take the time to acknowledge your efforts and dedication. This reward will give you something to look forward to. Yes, the intrinsic rewards are more important than extrinsic (or external) rewards in the long run, but external rewards can still be really useful in helping us establish effective routines.
Until next time!
If you have a question, please email me at email@example.com
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She has over a decade of experience coaching brain re-trainers and works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com