Change is hard. A study conducted by Phillippa Lalley suggested that “the time it took participants to reach 95% of their asymptote of automaticity ranged from 18 to 254 days; indicating considerable variation in how long it takes people to reach their limit of automaticity and highlighting that it can take a very long time.” Sounds a little discouraging doesn’t it? But there’s good news. It means that all those times you tried to get in a good habit or get out of a bad habit, and you just didn’t quite make the mark, maybe that particular habit just needed a little extra love and is still an attainable goal. As a yoga practitioner and wellness advocate, I firmly believe in the power of the mind. Creating positive associations to reinforce your new habit may help you to turn a new leaf.
When I was a little girl my mom created a list of morning and evening tasks to help us get in a routine and form healthy habits throughout our day. Although being kids at the time we would just roll our eyes back then, but when I think about that list now it always makes me smile. The very first item on this list: “Wake up happy 🙂”
It sounds easy. You say to yourself, I am going to wake up happy, make my bed, drink coffee, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, exercise, get ready for the day, and then I need to do xyz, make dinner, do the dishes, set the coffee, brush my teeth, go to sleep, repeat. Well half of the time I set this idealistic (unrealistic?) order of operations for the way that I imagine my perfect day to go, but it doesn’t always pan out the way we plan. So how do we develop a routine that actually works? It takes a lot of time, effort, and simply getting to know yourself. Everyone is beautifully different and there is no one size fits all.
So let start from the top:
WAKE UP HAPPY: First things first, I am not a morning person. Part of the reason my mom’s list might have made me roll my eyes, but she was on to something. I needed to think realistically about what would actually make me happy in the morning. I realized that if I were to wake up to coffee hot off the press I would be very happy. And it worked.
MAKE MY BED: The bedrock to a beautiful bedroom. I love making my bed first thing in the morning because it is the first thing you accomplish for the day, your bedroom immediately looks that much cleaner, and I love getting into a freshly make bed at the end of the day. It just feels really good, and it makes me happy.
DRINK COFFEE: Whether I am drinking coffee or tea, this time in the morning is a time for me to decompress before I start the day. I get to have a few quiet moments in the morning with my husband while we both wake up and sometimes some sweet conversations too. I also like to take this time in the morning to reflect upon and plan my day. Also see “wake up happy”
EAT BREAKFAST: Not for everyone, but personally if I don’t eat by 10am it’s not pretty. I also like to get a little something in my tummy at least an hour or so before I exercise.
BRUSH MY TEETH: For obvious reasons, general dental hygiene, but all in all fresh breath and clean teeth make me happy. It wouldn’t hurt to treat yourself to a toothbrush that makes you smile either. It seems a little silly, but it’s the small things. Check out some of my favorite hygiene essentials below.
EXERCISE: For more obvious reasons, exercise is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s REALLY HARD to get motivated. The number one rule when it comes to exercise: DO SOMETHING YOU LIKE! If you like it, you will keep doing it.
GET READY FOR THE DAY: This is very subjective depending on what I am doing that day. So depending on the day, I think it’s important to have a couple of items that just really make you happy. One of my favorite things to do when I first get out of the shower is to treat myself to my favorite body oil. It takes a little more time than your typical body lotion, but I have found that my skin is much happier and surprisingly clearer and… it makes me happy.
XYZ: As for everything in between- I used to concern myself with big to-do lists, but sometimes that starts to be a little too much. Of course if I have deadlines I need to meet those always take precedence, but as for the rest I found that simply determining what task I need to accomplish that day or that week works the best. I am a total list maker, but I have to remind myself to keep it simple.
MAKE DINNER: Dinner can become a little routine and somewhere down the line can start to feel like a chore. If I am making dinner I like to put on some nice music, get excited about a new recipe I found or an old favorite that I’ve been pining over, and just have fun and not take myself too seriously. Read more
DO THE DISHES: I don’t know anyone that is a fan of doing dishes, but one thing I do know is that I love walking into a clean and tidy kitchen.
SET THE COFFEE: I love setting the coffee maker because I know that it means fresh ground coffee in the morning and that means I will wake up happy. Although I set the coffee every night because I am not the only coffee lover in the house, sometimes I will opt for a cup of tea instead. Check out my favorite lose leaf teas below.
BRUSH MY TEETH: See above.
GO TO BED: My favorite part of the day is to nestle into my freshly made bed.
Forming healthy habits
DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
I find that the tasks that I actually want to do, the things that make me happy, are the tasks that I continue to do on a regular basis and those tasks eventually become habit. However, some tasks are simply tedious, but necessary. Those tasks are the ones that require some imagination. The mind is a powerful thing. If you can convince yourself that a particularly unlikeable task is something you actually like to do, you will succeed. I make my bed every morning not because I love making my bed, but because at the end of the day I love getting into a freshly made bed. I do the dishes everyday not because I love doing dishes, but because I love stepping into a nice clean kitchen. I set the coffee every evening not because I like to set the coffee, but because I love waking up happy to freshly brewed coffee. Find what makes you happy.
PUT IN THE EFFORT
This can be easier said than done, but once you get over that hump it will get easier. In the past I would wake up a little grumpy and before I went to bed the night before I thought to myself, I should set the coffee, but then I would not put in the effort to do so. At first I forced myself to do it, but then the more I did it, the happier I was in the morning knowing that I had set the coffee the night before, so I kept doing it. Now I do it as if it is second nature. If you put in the effort, I promise it’ll get easier.
DON’T GIVE UP
My biggest flaw of all time is the laundry. I have yet to get in a strong habit of folding and putting away the laundry. The only person I know that likes laundry is my mom. She puts on one of her favorite tv shows or movies, and folds and hangs clothes to her hearts desire. I have yet to find my groove. My point is, if you try and you fail, try again. If you keep failing, try something else. A little trial and error, and you will find what works for you.