Developing Habits into Ritual

I’ll be the first to admit that developing new habits into my daily routine is undeniably hard. I’m so attached to my daily routine that adding in something extra, or taking something away, or changing it in any way really throws me for a loop for a little while. That’s why working from home is sometimes a struggle, or teaching extra classes or lectures in the evening, or starting new exercise routines doesn’t always feel right. Sometimes (and I know this to be true to a lot of other people), we try to take on too much, making the habits unsustainable and therefore impossible to turn into our daily ritual. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, because there are (seemingly) a lot of habits I want to curate at the change of the season as we enter into fall. Of course, my list of “imperatives” felt overwhelming. As I sat for several days trying to figure out how to make this sustainable, I feel like I’ve developed a pretty steadfast method to my habits —> routine madness. For all of you dealing with your list of imperatives, give this a go:

  1. Make a list of every new goal or habit that you’d like to implement in the next 2 months.
  2. Now beak this down into most important, to least important.
  3.  Starting at the top (most important), allow 2 weeks to implement for every single one, one at a time.
  4. Assign a time of day to each habit that will work with your schedule. Do one new habit every day at this time for 2 weeks before implementing the next, and then the next etc.
  5. After implementing a few of these new imperative habits, take an honest assessment of your daily schedule and remove one or two old activities/habits that are not serving you, or taking up/wasting your time. *We’re allowing extra space for down time, or to implement yet another new habit by removing stale old habits.
  6. Practice saying “No” if you’re taking on too much. This really helps clear the calendar clutter.

This plan, at least for me, is a way to get these new goals and habits into my scheduled daily routine, slowly but surely, in a way that develops them into my daily ritual. Rather than pile on more and more things, I need to take stock of what else I can eliminate that’s using up my time in an inefficient way. Or, ask for help to manage some of my responsibilities / delegate some tasks to others that doesn’t require my immediate oversight.

I find that the only way to really make new and lasting habits sustainable is to do them every single day, at the same time every single day in order to make them a lasting ritual that eventually starts to feel weird if you don’t do them. It’s a commitment to start a new ritual. You’re drive and desire has to be there (which makes often frivolous habits not very sustainable). It’s also helpful to have an accountability partner to hold you responsible for some of these too, especially for things like exercise, changing your diet, or reaching deadlines. It’s also helpful for some folks to keep a journal (which can be super simple) to note areas where you’re struggling and where you’re excelling. This helps you to figure out how to adjust your habits and lifestyle that will truly work for you to limit discouragement and enhance longevity of the ritual. Also, I can’t stress enough how helpful actually putting these goals into your daily calendar is (along with reminders if you need them). Almost 100% of people I talk to just don’t make the time for their daily needs and goals because they don’t devote specific time to it. Consider these to be just as important as your job, your deadlines or paying your bills. They just gotta happen. Don’t give yourself a choice to do them when the time comes around (because we all have a reason to skip that workout, order take-out instead of cooking, sit a home instead of going to yoga or put off responding those pesky emails until another day).

Making your life more ritualistic with goals and habits that you truly want to accomplish will help to empower you to balance work and life a little more evenly. Because usually our goals and habits are centered around health and wellness, we put them on the back burner to our jobs or other responsibilities when, in fact, they’re just as (if not MORE) important. I always feel like a shift in season is a great starting point to change our schedules or implement new habits, and we’ve got just a few more weeks to plan out our goals and new habits before fall hits! Get started!

 

Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com

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