How to Prevent Your Daily Routine from Failing after One Week

With July right around the corner, it’s no surprise that your New Year’s resolutions for the most part, have tapered off only to make a comeback in another form for a new round of goal setting.

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Ever wondered why this cycle of doom is almost inevitable? Well, you’re not in the minority here. Many people from all over the world and from all eras have struggled with this, even Marcus Aurelius himself had a lot of trouble with habits. Many books have been written on this subject that really dissect this issue, but none come close to James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’.

In his book, James pinpoints exactly how and why we lose the ability to stick with our habits. Reading books like Atomic Habits is almost a prerequisite when it comes to breaking that vicious cycle that begins every year and dies a few weeks later.

Generally speaking, the reason why you fail to stick with your habits is that you set expectations that are unrealistic to be met on a daily basis. When we’re in that moment of passion and we really want to do something, it’s common to shoot for the moon and look at the end goal.

Let’s look at three reasons why you might’ve failed to stick with your habits and routines after one week:

Why we fall off a few days after setting habits and routines

You can’t help but wonder why it can seem so hard to stick with the habits we set which is totally understandable. While most people like to blame themselves, the world, or the habits themselves, there really is no one to blame here. The real problem is the expectations you set for yourself. 

We all get hyped up and motivated when we set habits and goals. It makes us feel good and gives us a lot of feel-good sensations. But you have to understand that habits and consistency are not about being motivated or even liking what you do. As Woody Allen once said: “99 percent of life is showing up”.

Generally speaking, the reason why you fail to stick with your habits is that you set expectations that are unrealistic to be met on a daily basis. When we’re in that moment of passion and we really want to do something, it’s common to shoot for the moon and look at the end goal.

Let’s look at three reasons why you might’ve failed to stick with your habits and routines after one week: 

Starting too big

You cannot expect to start going to the gym every day for two hours in the morning and try to master all of the musical instruments you want to learn to play in the afternoon while simultaneously working your full-time job. 

Too difficult

If the habit is demanding on a consistent basis without small increments leading up to the harder parts, then you will probably have a tough time sticking with it. 

Starting too many habits at once

Take it slow and easy. Starting with one habit at a time and dialing it down not only ensures that you stick with it in the long run, but also helps you carry that momentum onto the next habit.

Three lessons in James Clear’s Atomic Habits Book about habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear really breaks it down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to habits. It’s a great book to read and analyze, but here is just the main crux of his argument in three lessons.

No.1: Hone down the habit loop

All habits have a cue, craving, response, and reward. If you want to start a habit, then it’s important to ensure that this loop can be applied. The cue is what triggers the start of the habit and this could be as simple as waking up, getting home, or feeling hungry. The craving is the need to satisfy something and this could be anything as simple as contacting friends and family. Then comes the response which is where the action happens and finally the reward which satisfies the craving. 

No.2: It’s better to take one step at a time than to sprint your heart out

One of the biggest lessons that James Clear tries to have people understand is that being consistent on a daily basis regardless of how small the habit, is more important than making huge strides out of the gate, so to speak. Every wall is built brick by brick, one on top of the other to create the large wall formation, and not by pouring a truck full of cement onto one area. 

No.3: Pair habits together

It’s important to start with one small habit. This habit should be relatively easy but should have a great effect on your life. Once you have mastered being consistent with this habit and it has become like second nature, you can then start with the second habit which should be paired with the other habit.

For instance, if you started going to the gym three times per week and you have finally become extremely consistent at it, you can then possibly add journaling every time you get back from the gym. This will ensure you have a trigger, a cue, and rewards ready which are the feel-good hormones you receive after working out.

The following 5 steps and actionable prompts will help you cultivate who you are “becoming” through the formation of habits:

Success habits are going to change who you are for the better.

Therefore, you need a process and a plan when you want to trigger the formation of habits in your life. Here is a 5-step actionable plan for cultivating your ‘becoming’ through habit creation.

Step 1: Set goals and habits as soon as possible

Don’t wait until New Year’s. Start now and set 3-5 goals. Then, break down the goals on ‘how’ you will actually achieve those goals through habit formation.

Step 2: Make your habits EASY to do

Try to make your habits as robotic as possible. Going to the gym or journaling every day does not have to take your creative energy. Therefore, try to make those habits easy to do so that they are not a challenge mentally. 

Step 3: Master one habit at a time

Do not try to hack the system and change everything about your life simultaneously. It’s unrealistic and will set you up for disappointment. Pick one habit to master first and then continue to stack the next habit upon the first etc.

Step 4: Enable your habits

Make sure that you’re already ahead of your excuses before they even come up. If you know you’re not a morning person, prepare for the grogginess the day before or the night before. Know your excuses and defeat them before they even come up. For example, pack your workout gear, have your towel and water bottle ready, and any other necessary items you need to take with you so there is no excuse not to move and get yourself to the gym!

Step 5: Reward and repeat

When implementing new habits into your routine, it’s essential that you focus on your progress and celebrate the small victories. Progress can help you stay motivated and disciplined because it shows you just how far you’ve come. You get to see and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Not only that but you will also feel empowered to persevere in your efforts.

Creating habits that stick requires a reward system that your mind is introduced to.

When you reward yourself and commemorate your achievements, you also begin to realize that the satisfaction you get and the growth you experience as you work toward a specific outcome far outweigh the actual results. This reshapes your perception and allows you to appreciate your journey that much more.

In Conclusion

These five steps will help you build better habits that stick.

And while discipline plays a key role in this process, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not living up to every standard you’ve set for yourself. This is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of determination and energy. Building healthier habits will always be a work-in-progress. So, do your best to stay persistent but don’t forget to be patient with yourself. Go at a steady pace, one small step at a time because at the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re still trying.

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