So, you've decided to revamp your life. From now on, you are reclaiming your time (shoutout to my main girl Maxine) and making sure self-care is your number one priority. But, after a week of staying on top of your game, you see your resilience and commitment start to dwindle. Then by the end of the month, you realize you spent more mornings hitting "snooze" than you did actually accomplishing what you wanted to. You feel guilty, and you can't help but wonder how long it takes for a routine to actually become a habit.
I mean seriously, why is it so hard to stay committed to a new routine, especially when it's supposed to be good for you? Why do we have an aversion to something we know will benefit us?
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Marika Lindholm, sociologist and founder of ESME.com, to get to the bottom of the issue.
Good habits require sacrifice. Good habits require discipline, and good habits can sometimes make you feel like you're not living life to the fullest. Life is really hard -- we all feel like we deserve a reward. Going day in and day out, trying to build new habits, is physically and mentally exhausting in the short run.
According to the British Journal of General Practice, habits are deeply ingrained from associated behaviors, which means they don't require much thought, whereas your attempt to construct a new, healthier lifestyle likely requires a ton of thought and willpower.
That's why it's so easy to slip back into your old habits -- they're basically part of an endless loop, one you've been familiar with (probably) for years now. It's like you have to deconstruct that loop and completely start anew.
Dr. Lindholm has a few key tips to help you keep at it with a new routine when the going gets tough.
1. Above All, Forgive Yourself
Accept the fact that, as a human being, you will make mistakes, and you won't always meet your own expectations every day. Don't beat yourself up -- breathe, let it go, and try again tomorrow.
2. Chart Your Progress
Whether you do this in a written journal, or you simply take notes on your phone, keeping track of your good habits will help you monitor your progress. Plus, it'll help make your results seem all the more tangible and real.
3. Shout Your Progress From The Rooftops
Well, you don't actually have to shout it. But seriously, tell other people about your new routine! According to Dr. Lindholm, this helps keep you accountable and responsible for your actions no matter what.
4. Dedicate Good Habits To A Special Someone
This one works like a charm. Dedicate your new habit in honor of someone you really love and care about. This way, it's not just you that you have to please -- it's the people you love the most in your life.
As you continue to dedicate yourself to your new routine, keep in mind that a lot of your habits may have been formed when you were a child, and most likely, they were taught to you by someone else. You didn't have to think about them.
Now, as a fully functioning adult (sort of), you have more awareness and you are, essentially, re-learning life. It's going to take a lot of time -- a lot of starting and slipping, a lot of re-dedication.
Remember how many times your mother had to drill into you that you need to wash your hands after you use the bathroom? I bet you forgot that at a point in time, that message had to be repeated to you. Well, the same goes for this lifestyle, but it's up to you to govern yourself.
Unfortunately, as much as you may hate to hear this, time, patience, and repetition are your key ingredients here. Always remember that, and soon, your newly built practices will eventually become part of a habitual loop.
Until then, keep at it.