In this post we are going to explore the benefits of habits and routines, and how they develop.
Here we share 3 effective ways to create not just any set of habits and routines, but the right ones for you.
If you are ready to improve your current routine by introducing new and upgraded habits with less effort, then this post is for you!
Let’s get started..
Why Are Habits and Routines Important?
Habits and routines do more for us than we might realize on the surface.
Having consistent habits and routines are a great way to incorporate the practices we need to thrive, reach benchmarks, and achieve our goals.
If we dig a bit deeper we can see how the habits and routines we form are what give our days balance and structure. They create a framework from which we can navigate daily tasks with less effort.
Having regular habits and routines also help to dramatically diminish the effects of what is known as ‘decision fatigue’. You may have experienced this phenomenon yourself.
The idea around this concept is that when we have too many choices to make, especially in a short span of time, we experience a certain level of mental depletion.
With habits and routines, we can drastically cut the amount of mundane decisions we make in a day, thus freeing up all that extra mental energy to focus on the more important aspects of our life.
How Do You Develop Routines and Habits?
So how do you form habits and routines? Well the good news is you more than likely already have!
The real question is whether you have developed them consciously or unconsciously.
For more clarity, let’s explore the definition of each.
What are habits and routines?
Habit is defined as a recurrent pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition. An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.
Routine is defined as a set of customary or unchanging (and often mechanically performed) activities or procedures.
So how do we develop habits, and what is the purpose of a routine?
A lot of times the habits and routines we form offer us some type of reward, whether it be short term or long term.
Habits can form unconsciously if we notice the instant positive feedback we receive, but are oblivious to the long term consequences that may come along with it over time.
Mindful and intentional habits are created when we can see the bigger picture, understand that the results may not come today, but will have a greater payoff (and compounding effect) over time.
This concept is explained wonderfully in one of my favorite books: The Slight Edge.
This book had a huge impact on my life by clearly highlighting the importance of building the right habits.
The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.
How To Build Lasting Habits And Routines
Building lasting habits and routines takes more than just discipline, action or consistency.
It requires the awareness and clarity of why you are developing them, and how they support your life vision overall.
The habits and routines you incorporate should set you on the path towards living your best life.
This means not just building any set of habits and routines, but the right ones.
There is a simple 3-step process that will demonstrate how to create habits and routines that last.
1. Get Informed
Building lasting habits starts with gathering information.
Begin to study and research what can be expected by introducing your new habit.
Knowledge is power.
What are the benefits you will gain, both short and long term? What are the hurdles you may have to overcome to make it stick?
It is much easier to begin a new habit (and make it last) when we are clear on why the habit is good for us, and the benefits to be expected over time.
For example, say you want to start the habit of journaling. Who can you study that has accomplished this?
What steps did they take to make it a regular part of their routine, and what benefits did they experience as a result?
When you have a clear understanding of how this habit benefits you, as well as how it fits into the bigger picture of your life, it will be much easier to stay motivated along the way.
Getting informed helps you create your habits and routines with the purpose, awareness and intention needed to make them last.
2. Upgrade Your System
As mentioned earlier, you already have a baseline of habits and routines that make up your current day.
While you might not be entirely satisfied with the results they are producing, you can easily make tweaks and upgrades within them.
Upgrading your system puts the focus on progress, not perfection.
One way this can be done is through the practice of habit stacking, a method covered in another powerful book: Atomic Habits.
This concept is about using your existing habits as cues to help you layer new or upgraded habits upon them, which I’ll expand on in a couple of habits and routines examples.
Say you already have the habit of brewing your coffee in the morning. You could use that action as a cue to stack the habit of writing down three things you are grateful for.
In addition to habit stacking, you can also upgrade your current system through the practice of crowding out.
This process is less about stacking the habits and more about introducing a better, healthier option to slowly replace (and crowd out) an undesired one over time.
By working within your existing system you can start to make the adjustments needed to shift course, with far less force and effort than having to build from scratch.
3. Track Your Progress
How do you maintain good habits? One of the most effective ways to do this is by simply tracking your progress.
What gets measured gets managed.
When you understand why you are performing your new habit, as well as how to fit it into your current routine, the final step is about creating a means of accountability.
That is where tracking comes in. Not only does tracking your progress remind you to perform your new habit, but there is also evidence that creating ‘streaks’ can make it stick.
For example, say you want to start the habit of drinking 64oz of water everyday. One way to track your progress is by simply putting a big X on your desk calendar each day you accomplish this.
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The act of tracking and building streaks not only gives you instant visible feedback, but you are showing yourself that you are reliable, capable, and are building up your self discipline muscle along the way.
When you are keeping a visible tally of your progress, you can look back and see how far you’ve actually come. Sometimes that in and of itself is enough motivation to keep you going.
And over time, you may find it becomes harder to break the habit than to stick with it.
Our current set of habits and routines didn’t form overnight.
Thus, creating a new and upgraded set will take some time, and commitment.
If we understand this, we can bring the energy required to make our new ones last.
And if we see the bigger picture, we will have the patience, dedication, and tenacity to keep following through, each and every day .
What about you?
What are some ways you build habits and routines in your life?
Let us know by leaving a comment below.