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Why Are Routines Difficult to Stick To?

Are you struggling with a new routine? Do you keep sliding back into your old habits?

Committing to a new routine can be difficult.

Let’s take a look at three of the reasons a routine can be hard to stick to, as well as ways to make your new routine second nature before you know it.

1. Habits Take Longer to Form Than You Think

If the popularity of “30-day challenges” on the internet is any guide, any habit can be perfectly developed in just one month – right?

Unfortunately, in most cases, it takes much longer than a month for a habit to become truly automatic.

In fact, a 2009 study found that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit.

So, if a new routine still doesn’t feel natural after a few weeks, it’s ok.

If your new routine is worthwhile, just stick to it, and it will become a habit in time.

2. Too Many Changes at Once Can Be Overwhelming

Does this sound familiar?

  • It’s January 1st, and you want to get healthy in the new year. So, you spend two hours at the gym, eat only vegetables all day, and send yourself to bed by 9 pm.
  • On January 2nd, you break down, eat waffles, chips and ice cream, and spend the day on the couch, moaning because you are too sore from working out to move.
  • By January 3rd, all resolutions have been forgotten.

What’s the problem in this scenario?

It’s trying to change too many things at once.

Change is hard and it takes a lot of repetition for a new habit to stick.

So, even if you are trying to completely overhaul your life, it’s important to start with one small change at a time.

For example, if you are trying to get healthy, pick one small change a month to introduce.

  • In January, walk for ten minutes after dinner every night.
  • In February, add one piece of produce to each meal (and keep walking every night).
  • Keep going with small changes, and by the end of the year, you’ll have added twelve new healthy habits.

3. All-or-Nothing Mentality

You want to get back to exercising, so you promised yourself you’d walk for 15 minutes a day.

It goes great for a week, and then, on a rainy Tuesday, you work overtime and miss your walk.

Come Wednesday, do you get back to walking or do you get mad at yourself for “messing up” the day before and give up entirely?

Too many people pick option two. They try to form a habit and get frustrated at the first mistake and give up.

Yet, studies show that an occasional skipped day doesn’t impact habit formation. The key is to just keep going if you miss a day.

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