Routine. Do you have it? This blog is perfect for my first Sockdolager Wellness Post because I am using it to speak to 2 different audiences. The first being the regular folks (likely you if you're reading this) with no formal health training - to educate you on how to shape your life to be a more healthy one. The second is for all the health professionals out there- to show them the benefits of routine from a colleague viewpoint. You can catch that blog on the Professional portion of this site.
So many folks out there lack a consistent routine and it affects their health! Lets take a 30, 000 foot view of this and where my brain is going: diet, exercise, work habits, home habits, cleaning, sleeping, relaxing, reflecting etc, etc, etc.
In my field (physical therapy and wellness and health), there are two main items that divide the successful from the unsuccessful - routine (consistency) and accountability (on which a blog is coming soon- Keep your eyes peeled)!
Let's take the iconic Fred Rogers - who is still wondering if you'll be his neighbor - and dissect this a bit. While on the outside (and inside) I still don't necessarily fully understand Mr. Rogers he did have one thing going for him: ROUTINE. And, if you were a fan of the show, you knew there was at least 2 jacket changes and shoe changes coming. He was predictable in the best way possible. A touch boring and lacking spontaneity for sure, but you never questioned what was coming next, because YOU KNEW.
This is exactly how routine in your life can help you be more successful (at whatever you want). As I alluded to earlier, people, if they fail they fail because they lack routine and accountability. The cool thing is you can control your routine. The bad thing? It takes effort at first. Routine doesn't come easy and the likelihood of you jumping off the tracks to binge watch another season of Game of Thrones only to find out Winter still isn't here will not only derail your goals but your routine.
Let's break down routine. A regular pattern or habit (paraphrasing here) can only occur if it is indeed regular. So how do we make it this way? I think we must start with the overall plan and make a list of goals. Because these goals are what is shaping our routine to drive habits and ultimately make change or sustain behavior, right?
So set some goals (Make them SMART goals)! Another blog post will be coming on goal setting in the future as well (foreshadowing). And then lets look at these goals - to achieve them will take effort, attention, and routine.
Now that an overall view and direction has been set with the goals we can start breaking down the routines needed. Let's take losing weight and diet for an example. You SMART goal was to lose 20 pounds before Christmas without pills or surgery. In order to lose weight, we must change diet, activity, and habits.
So now, get out that fifty cent legal pad and start WRITING THINGS DOWN. That is secret number one. Not only does that make your more accountable to you, but gives you a visual and mechanical representation of the undertaking you are taking on to change behavior. As humans, we are easy to ignore things that are concepts rather than concrete concepts. Writing something down takes a routine from a concept to a routine.
So if your goal was to lose weight the first step is to make a routine out of making your routine. That's redundant, but still, you must get in the habit of writing the process before taking the process on. This could mean taking 20 minutes on a Sunday to plan out meals and workouts for the week and write a grocery and exercise list.
SIDE NOTE - be as specific as possible. When there is room for doubt or error, deviations in behavior and derailing of the train happens. Don't allow yourself to second guess your sounds decisions already made. If it on paper and concrete after all. So, list the exercises, the times, the locations that you'll be doing the workouts; list the meal plan for the week down to the ingredients, the day, the snacks, the drinks. Then, write down the day you'll be making the meals and when you'll make them (time of day). Then, write down the store you'll shop at and the list (based of the menu) that you're getting. And stick to it! The more details the less the mind wanders. It makes it more concrete. You've now set your routine. And all that's left is to execute.
When we think about things less, we accomplish more.
The second not so groundbreaking concept is to then REPEAT. Wow. I know. But do you think Mr. Rogers, after one Cardigan change cemented this in his personality? No. It took multiple times and mindfulness. Yes, being aware of the change you want to make is important. You can't ignore it and hope for it to happen. I think it (the internet and experts who write books with big words) says 21 days of consistent behavior starts to change it. That's 3 weeks. You can write things down, execute, and repeat for 3 weeks, can't you?
The fun part about that 3 week mark? Once it becomes more routine in your brain it becomes habit. And habits don't need nearly as much external cueing or effort. That list that once took 30 minutes to write might take 5. You don't have to force yourself to the gym because you're in the habit and routine of going. You don't fear meal prep because you've done it so many times before. Once the pattern is set you're now primed, like a dog trained by Pavlov, to simply execute. Yes, you just Classical-ly Conditioned yourself into new behavior. This is an age old concept. The concept isn't new, only the execution is (for you).
Changing routine or implementing routine is tough. And it takes a lot more EFFORT at first. So start small. And work in chunks. Don't expect to change the entirety of yourself in 3 weeks. But f you take once behavior and change it, then focus on another, and another. By doing this at the end of one year you could have changed 17 behaviors and implemented 17 routines that are likely to lead to habits. Sounds impressive! And it is. But if someone had asked you to work on 17 behaviors at once or our wrote out 17 goals to tackle at once, you'd probably get overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, and quit.
As my mom once said, "Small bites, and chew, chew, chew."
If you want to start changing routine I've made up a nice little weekly cheat sheet to get started that you can print out, fill out, and use to track and manage your routine. Write the goals down at the top (very important to always visit your goals) and fill out the daily blocks the steps necessary to implement change. And when you do it-cross it off! Nothing better than crossing off something. It not only gives you power over the list, but shows you that you are accomplishing something!
If you'd like it- click the button below and it's yours!
Eric is a working physical therapy business owner and full time therapist and clinician. He's been through it all. If you're looking for realistic tips, tricks, support, and a community of like-minded professionals and students to help grow with- this is for you.
It is my goal with this group to pass on my knowledge of business, clinical skills, marketing (Facebook, Adwords, and more!) and life stories to help those wanting to grow their self skills, their business, or simply be part of a community of learners and leaders. Welcome to Sockdolager Wellness Company.
Eric is a Physical Therapist who owns his own clinic in Chandler AZ. He is the author of Breathe Better, a father to 3 awesome kids, and a husband to Ashley who is also a physical therapist.