This much we’ve already established in the past: you need to find your why to get anywhere with your health and training goals. But, the why driving the motivation in itself isn’t enough to keep you going towards your goals when you get blindsided with life’s randomness.
You know, when you get elbow checked to the head and momentarily struggle to find the east.
Build a routine to fall back on
It’s crucial to construct habits and routines that you can fall back to when everything feels like a big “FU”. I mean, get a load of this: when’s the last time you were super-motivated to brush your teeth? When was the last time when you were rushing to get to bed but still somehow managed to not only brush, but also floss your legos? Reaching deep into the darkness of your mouth cavity.
You didn’t brush and floss (or is the other way around?) because you were motivated and inspired to get it done. No, you did it because you have a well established routine you follow before attempting sleep. Something along the lines of shower, vitamins, brush, floss, read, sleep.
Most of us get our teeth maintenance done without logging to our Instagram account to froth over perfect set of Kanye-like teeth for inspiration or motivation. We don’t need Tony Robbins – esque rah rah motivation to be inspired to reach out for the brush.
We brush those teeth because it’s part of what we do. It’s a well-established routine.
Health and fitness should be be the same. You follow a routine each day to get it done. Whether it’s making sure that you are organised to avoid cheap takeaway during lunch, putting your shoes ready to head for the morning run as soon as the alarm goes off, or by doing your mobility work while watching another rerun of Seinfeld.
If we know that this is how it works why do we struggle with it so much?
Because we stop before the routine is established. Take the new years resolution warriors for example. Maybe you’re one of them. You go from zero to hundred with your healthy lifestyle. And as always, it’s too much to handle all at once. So you end up dropping the whole routine before it becomes one.
That’s the reason why I am so big on making each new health and fitness habit almost too easy. At least easy in terms of “this doesn’t qualify for a Facebook update that will get 37 likes”.
Brushing teeth takes all of three minutes, and you just need to be organised enough to invest in toothpaste.
Timeline for establishing a routine
So how long does it take to establish these routines then? I could get all science on you and state the averages of different studies. Yet the truth is that each person and routine is different.
But I can tell you this. If you start with a habit that is uncomfortable but manageable, and you can keep doing it for a month, I can guarantee that you are closer to a routine than you were a month ago.
Yes, it’s still uncomfortable. But not in a way that makes you feel like you are about to attack the beaches of Normandy. At times it’s ok to live between all or nothing.
How’s that for science?
Of course, because habits and routines are villainized as batshit-boring and grandpa-level-sexy most people don’t like doing them. They prefer “living in the moment”.
But you’ll be surprised how far you can go by implementing and establishing non-sexy habits and routines for the next 12 months. Unless of course, you have the goal to look like a model for a week in three months time and revert back to your old self.