There are a lot of things which must be included in our routines to make our lives easier. We all know this. Right? But are we able to stick to the plan? While there are few who succeed at executing plans, most of us fail miserably. Ever given it a thought?
I believe that what we do as part of our routine is what forms our personality. How happy or unhappy we are, is a result of our habits. Think about it. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Inspiring words from Aristotle.
I’m great at initiating things, for example, I finally came up with an idea to keep a track of my finances, I have started scheduling a review twice month. But after slogging through it for a week or two, I start neglecting it or maybe feel too lazy to bother about it. So, basically what happens is that I start with some big plans, follow it for a week or two and then get occupied in something which I feel is more important (or maybe nothing at all) and put my routine aside for the time. Now, this was alarming. I couldn’t just stick to my plans. I wanted to, but I failed. Recently, I read Charles Duhigg’s best–selling book, The Power of Habit and found it very useful. Duhigg writes about a “Habit Loop” which consists of a cue, a routine and a reward.
So, I thought of challenging myself. I tried to make another plan, this time to execute my regular plans. I started by setting a reminder on my phone which prompts me to start the plan. And while I practiced this, I realized that reminder is one important component of this framework. Also, I think if you can possibly set up a visible reminder, it would be more impactful. Say, I want to meditate for 20minutes after I have my morning tea every day. So, I set up a reminder on my phone the previous night to get up 20minutes prior. I place my meditation mat right next to the chair where I have my morning tea. Understand that placing the mat in place and setting up the morning alarm 20 minutes’ prior are both visible reminders, which are really important for me to execute my plan. When, I wake up the following morning and see my mat in place, I instantly sit down to meditate after having my morning tea. Now, that’s the routine I wanted to follow. Remember that I used to follow such routines initially too, but they didn’t last for more than a couple of weeks. So, this time, I thought of sticking to it by rewarding myself every weekend if I follow this routine without a break. I chose this ‘reward’ as something which would drive me towards following the routine. After all, it’s important to celebrate. You have to think smartly to form the reward.
I would suggest start with “tiny plans”. I maintain a daily checklist of things and that’s the first thing which I do in the morning before leaving for work. I include even the smallest of things like cleaning the bathroom sink. You can also try setting up a routine on the Google Calendar, it’s a very impactful way of sticking to the daily checklist. You can create daily events on the Calendar and stick to it as per the reminders. Include every small thing, including the things which you are likely to miss due to distractions. Studies show that if you stick to a habit or a routine for a month, you are most likely to follow it in the future. Guys, consistency is the key!
I would end up by saying that there are seven days in a week, and “someday” is certainly not one of them.