I have struggled with having a routine with anything in my life, and I find it hard to stick to one that I can constantly follow every day. I have attempted multiple routines but have failed continuously at sticking to them. I’d do research, read self-help books, and watch YouTube videos, to try and learn how to create the perfect routine. Is there one, though? Is there such thing as a perfect routine? These are the questions I ask myself every time I fail to keep up with a schedule. These are questions that I asked myself every time I could not stay motivated with every attempt.
I would go cold turkey in every attempt to start a new routine, quitting everything holding me back. Instead of easing myself into it, I automatically went all in, which added immense pressure and stress to my once casual days. When I realised that going full throttle didn’t work for me, I would start one thing at a time, adding one into my daily occurrence or putting a time limit onto something, such as reading 30 minutes a day. Initially, it would be a bit of a struggle for me, as I find it hard to stay motivated and on course to complete things. Over time, I would continue with a new task added to my day, but I would eventually fall back into the pattern of failing to create the perfect routine for myself.
If you asked those closest to me, they would tell you that I didn’t have a routine and needed one. They saw that I could not stick to any routine that I created for myself, and it is true. I couldn’t. I don’t follow a schedule; I don’t follow a strict way of living and honestly take every day as it comes. Living life like that can seem worrying to those who love you; trust, I know it does. But I used to feel like a routine would throw me off and put everything out of place for me. It sounds weird because that is the opposite of what it is meant to do, but that is how I used to feel about it.
I got to a point where I was tired of living life without balance, living without structure. So, towards the end of January, I decided to create a routine that I could use daily for one month. I intended to keep it up, but life and my health prohibited that.
To succeed at completing an intense routine, I had to find the definition of a routine.
What is a routine?
- A customary or regular course of procedure
- Regular, unvarying, habitual, or rote procedure
- An unvarying and constantly repeated formula, as of speech or action
To develop a routine is to create a sense of habit. To understand what a habit is, I need to overcome the mental struggles of completing things. As I’ve previously written about, I struggle to commit and keep up with something, which plays a significant part in my failures and why I can’t stick to a routine.
I can do all the research I want and watch all the YouTube videos, but nothing will change unless I find the correct routine that suits me best. As much as I believe that doing these things that other people suggest can help me, realistically, it may not. What works for others won’t necessarily work for me because were different people with different abilities and mindsets towards things.
I asked a few people if they had a routine and if they found it easy to stick with one. I found out that many people have a routine and can’t live without one. I also found out that I want the only one who struggled to keep up with a routine, and it was common to feel that sticking to a routine can be challenging. Which, in a way, made me feel better knowing that I was not alone.
Everyone has reasons why a routine may or may not suit them. Some people prefer it to balance their lives, bringing the stability they need to complete tasks. A common way I was told that people used to help them stick to their routine was by utilising their calendars. There have been many times I have added things to my calendar to try and incorporate them into my daily routine, but every time I failed at it. It would be a simple task of waking up at 6:30 so that I could include breakfast to start my day, instead of waking up at 7 am and buying a breakfast bar on my way to work. Something as simple as that I struggled to keep up with.
Every routine that I tried, I took from someone else’s opinion and beliefs without tailoring it to my own needs or personal wants and gains. I think that played a part in why I failed each time.
A part of me has realised that it will take a lot more than just implanting a routine into my life to be structured. I wouldn’t have had multiple attempts and failures if it were that simple. Then again, without trying all the times I have, I wouldn’t have the experience I have gained in the things I have attempted, which have helped me in the long run in my life.
During January, I ended up in the hospital due to my health being at an all-time low, which installed great fear in me. After that, I finally decided to take my health and life seriously. By doing this, I promised myself to make the lifestyle changes I drastically needed and created a routine that would help me better my life long-term. I decided to make sure I did the things I needed to do and set out time to add them into my day that I would say I never had time to do.
Once I finally got my gym membership with my doctors, it was a new chapter and beginning for me. I started utilising my calendar; I woke up earlier, ate right, went to the gym, read 30 minutes a day, wrote more, worked on my chapters, and posted what I wrote. At first, I found it hard, and I always did when making lifestyle changes. The mental aspect was challenging to overcome, causing me to stagger in some moments. But, once I overcame the mental block and the slight fear that was holding me back, I continued following my routine—eating right and going to the gym in particular.
During the month, I felt my life-changing. Things in my life became more positive, and I was experiencing life differently. I honestly thought that my mind was clear about everything in my life due to this, both physically and mentally. I had succeeded in keeping up with a routine longer than just a few days, longer than I have ever attempted before.
As positive and clear as I felt, I also felt that everything seemed too good to be true. Was it too quick for me to think everything was going well? Did I deserve to feel good about how everything was going? I felt a sense of imposter syndrome hallway through my journey. I reached a point where I could either slip and fall back into my old ways of never keeping up with a routine or jump ahead, ignoring my doubt and move on further.
I felt my body getting stronger, my mind getting stronger, my ability to concentrate enhanced, and my levels to listen and understand increased. These were all developing in ways that I could not imagine. I began to believe in myself more than ever, and I finally realised that I could keep up with a routine I had created.
As I was a month into it, at the end of February, I caught Covid, which threw a spanner in the works with everything I was working on. I was bedridden, unable to eat, unable to move, and it demotivated me to continue with my journey. I can’t lie and say that as soon as I got better, I got back into what I had started because that would be a lie. I didn’t. It took me a while to even attempt to get back into it. I had lost confidence in the gym that had built up over the month and lost confidence in my writing as I was no longer doing it every day.
I had to sit down and be true to myself. I was the only person stopping me from sticking to a routine. I was the only person making excuses for why I couldn’t continue and why things were hard, rather than telling myself that I was the problem. Upon reflection, I realised my ability to stick to a routine is more than possible, but I would always hold myself back. I would doubt myself in every aspect and automatically stop myself from achieving anything.
As I am currently writing this, I have managed to get back into the swing of things. I have no excuse not to follow through. Too tired to go to the gym? I can go to my garage to work out; I have all the equipment I need in there. Can’t be bothered to cook? Good thing I meal prepped for a few days. I no longer have an excuse anymore.
Being able to stick to a routine for a month has taught me a lot about myself, and it has taught me how much I have stopped myself in the past simply by making excuses, and I stopped myself from being the best version of myself throughout my life.