In the words of Gretchen Rubin, “Habits eliminate the need for self control.”
We already know that new routines will not stick unless they are individualized. But we still need to talk about what comes after the routine is formed.
So what does come next, you ask? I’ll tell you what – Habits.
Then the question becomes, how do you form a new habit?
Habits are automatic, you don’t have to think about them. Routines require more intention for you to move through the steps, more thinking.
If one of my daily habits gets thrown off I inevitably forget something. It’s like dominos falling over, the first one pushes into the second and on and on.
I get up each morning and do things in the exact same order. I make my bed, use the bathroom, drink some coffee, think about my day, answer emails….etc. On my way out the door I put on my wedding rings, put on my shoes, and then grab my mid-morning snack.
If my son interrupts me to find his lost shoe, I will forget to grab my snack. I leave the house without it and then realize at 10 a.m. that I am starving. Then I am grouchy and unproductive and my work routine suffers.
Habits are the end goal of all individualized routines, and they can be mastered.
6 steps to master your habits
Set a goal
Like anything else you need to know exactly what habit you are trying to form. You need to get specific about your end goal. Goals are useless if they are not specific.
For example, I want to make exercise a habit in my daily life. So I will start by forming a routine that is individualized for me. This will involve setting a reminder on my Google calendar for the same time each day, and writing it in my planner.
In order for my goal to become a habit I will need to be consistent about my new routine. Consistency is work but it is so worth it.
Map It Out
Work through setting up your routine. Check out my post on Individualized Routines to get started.
List the steps you need to take to form the routine. Determine how much time and when you will execute the routines. My goal is to work out for one half hour each day. So I need to block off that time every day in my planner, and set up reminders for myself.
We need to own our goals and express them in order to put the wheels in motion.
Give Yourself Reminders
If you hadn’t noticed I am a huge fan of reminders. I have reminders on my outlook calendar at work, and I have reminders on my phone from Google. These days, even my personal appointments are confirmed with text reminders.
One way I have found to “remind” myself of a new habit is to connect it to another habit I already have. Since I am constantly trying to develop an exercise habit, I now link working out to wearing a sports bra. No seriously. I am currently wearing a sports bra under my clothing all the time because I would never forget to wear a bra.
Enlist a Partner
Use the people in your life to keep you accountable. One of my closest friends is also a mom with fitness goals. We text back and forth all the time about working out, which is helpful in keeping me motivated. She is literally my partner in forming a new fitness habit.
I also depend on my trainer to send me text reminders of my workouts as well as my eating habits. She understands that I need the accountability, and over time I have started to look forward to her reminders.
When you start to hear those Negative Thoughts trickle through your head try to stop yourself. Breath and think about how irrational those thoughts might be. If you need a minute to clear your head, take it.
But don’t allow yourself to give up or procrastinate. For a long time I would delay my daily workout time because I thought that writing for this website was more important. After a while I realized that I needed to do the workout before I start writing in order for me to think.
I now get more writing done in less time after I exercise.
Predict the Roadblocks
Whenever you try to start a new routine or habit there will be inevitable roadblocks to your succeeding. This is just part of life. But you have a better chance of working through your roadblocks if you are able to predict them ahead of time.
Get this: Many of us create our own roadblocks! Gretchen Rubin calls them, “our favorite loopholes.” And she explains that in order to be successful with any new habit, you need to analyze your favorite.
For example, I often give myself a “loophole” when I am too tired to exercise. See what I mean? I am creating my own roadblock.
There may also be people in your life that challenge your new routines and habits. Instead of being hurt by this, why not prepare yourself for it? Think ahead and decide what your response will be to snarky comments or pointed questions.
Finally, all this talk of routines and habits starts to make sense when you put it into the context of ADHD. We need to exert all of our mental energy and self control to get through the day.
Building strong, individualized habits is the end goal because it makes our lives easier.
I live and die by my habits. If I didn’t work this hard to structure my days and form effective habits, nothing would ever get done.
Mastery of habits requires some hard work. But it is so worth it in the end.
Download my free habit tracker. I like to keep things simple so it is not fancy, but it will help you track your new habits.
I would love to work with you on setting up some accountability and giving you a sense of control over your time and life.
I also have a private coaching group where I work closely with a small group of motivated, positive women. I’d love to see you there!
Here is my affiliate link to Gretchen Rubin’s book. Click here for my full disclosure policy.