3 Keys to Successful Routines

If I hear someone talk about their “morning routine” one more time in a podcast or blog, I think I may vomit.  Don’t get me wrong, the folks talking about their routines all are very well intentioned and are just responding to a reader or listener question.  My problem is with the question.  Why is the reader or listener asking?  Do they really think changing the morning routine is going to be the key to unlock success in their lives?  Routines for that matter, are they good or bad?

Routine or Rut?

I have seen and even done this myself…I set up certain “routines” throughout the day to make my day move more efficiently.  On the surface, it seems like a great thing to do.  Here’s the problem.  If those great routines simply reinforce what may be a misplaced focus than all you’ve done is given yourself a more efficient path to falling into and perpetually staying in a rut.  You will have built routines that will build habits that take you further from your vision.

Pattern Right Actions

Start at the beginning.  Look back at your goals and the vision you have for your life.  Go through the process of determining what action steps will create those outcomes.  These what I call “right actions” are the activities worth spending the time to build routines around. 

Routine to Habit

With enough repetition, your routines will become habit.  But, there’s a couple small things you can do to help yourself embed these positive habits more quickly into your life. 

  • Link each routine action to a specific queue.  For example, if it is a morning routine action, link the new routine action to something you already do every morning.  So, when you reach for your cup of coffee, have your morning journal sitting next to the coffee (if you are into morning journaling that is).  If you are looking to make a habit of taking a morning run, have your running shoes and clothes sitting next to your alarm clock…when the alarn goes off, that’s your queue to hit the road for a run.

  • Reward yourself.  Set a goal to do your new routine for a certain period of time.  If you accomplish that, reward yourself with something positive.  If you follow through on your morning running routine for 10 days, buy yourself some new running clothes.  The key here is to make the reward something that also reinforces the routine.  Have the rewards set before day 1 so you will have something to look forward to.

  • The Stick.  That’s right, there should be a penalty you assess yourself for not following through.  If you miss on an important routine, the stick can get you back at it quickly.  The Stick could be as simple as having your significant other call you out on it or having a coach independently provide feedback on how you are doing.

So, keep asking about morning routines but, please, if you do, be thoughtful about what you are specifically trying to accomplish in your own life.  Then, go build routines that will reinforce your unique vision.