In an earlier post, we looked at how to design a saner morning routine. In a 3-step process, you 1) think about why you need one, 2) design one unique to you, and 3) repeat. Keep doing it. That’s the name of the habit formation game. Anything we keep doing, we get better at. And to help you keep doing it, this post will share some ways to make staying consistent easier.
We first change our habits, then our habits change us.
We hear a lot about mindset these days and when it comes to making life changes, the hype happens to be true. Before you start a morning routine, you should know why you want one. You don’t want to do it because you see people doing it on social media, or because your boss or mentor has one. You want to do it because it can help you do something you want—to have your mornings run smoother, for example.
About 7 years ago when I started a morning routine, it was to get up and write in the mornings. I had visions of doing what I’m doing now but never could find the time after work to start writing. My why was to ultimately do work I loved and I knew I needed to become more disciplined if I was going to do that.
With something so monumental on the line, I had an incentive. It’s an incentive you might share, but as you’ve probably learned by now, we don’t always stick to our good intentions. Even when they are as inspiring and necessary as having financial freedom, feeling fulfilled, and putting something great into the world.
Good intentions are just the start and part of the necessary mindset you need to have to change. But it’s strategies like these that will help the human fallible you follow-through.
1. Start from the night before
When you start from the night before, you shave off time and leave fewer decisions to make in the mornings. You can pick out your outfit for the next day, prep your lunch and/or breakfast, pour out your pet’s food, or tidy up the night before. Something I do the night before that helps me is to leave a glass of water on my nightstand at night. In the morning, before my feet even touch the ground, my day is off to a better start.
2. Stack your habits
Right after drinking a glass of water, I meditate in bed. By drinking water before or after I meditate, I’m doing what’s called “habit stacking.” Habit stacking is adding a habit to an existing one, and it’s an excellent way to help you remember to do all the things in your stack. One stack can add up to a big chunk of your morning routine, making it go by easily. Drink water, meditate, go for a run or workout—these are all things that fit neatly together.
3. Use the KISS method
You don’t want to start doing morning routines with a lengthy or complicated routine. A simple manageable one is better. You can slowly and deliberately add new activities over time. My first routine was to get up and write at 6:30 a.m. for 30 minutes. That was it—do one thing. This routine eventually evolved to include things that would help me get in the mood for writing. Meditation. Little by little, I added things and tweaked others to get where I am today. So, if you want to have better luck sticking to your routine, Keep It Simple, Sister!
4. Make it beneficial to you
If the activities in your routine are things that will benefit you personally, you’re going to do what any healthy person will and try and stick to it. That glass of water that I drink every morning is supposed to kickstart my sluggish metabolism. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t help my metabolism but it sure kickstarts my brain! The exercise I do helps to regulate my under-active thyroid, gives my mood a boost and it keeps my weight in check. These are all things I really really want, so you bet I’m doing them.
5. Get outside
Getting outside within an hour of getting up is potentially life-changing. I kid you not. Not only will this help to give you more energy for the day ahead, getting out has habit-forming benefits too. The natural light of the outdoors cues our brain to shut off melatonin production, which makes us less sleepy during the day.
Christine is a Life Strategist and Emotional Health Coach living in Los Angeles. She's big on meditation and believes in systems and routines, and in personalizing everything you do to help you get where you want to be.