Why Routines Are Better Than Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions.

They promise themselves that THIS will be the year they finally get in shape, learn a new skill, or save more money.

But statistics show that only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions. Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our lives?

The answer is simple: we’re not good at change. Our brains are programmed to resist change, which makes keeping your resolutions nearly impossible.

Although New Year’s resolutions are generally unsuccessful, there are ways to accomplish your new goals. And the best way to achieve your goals is to establish a daily routine that supports your new habit.

When you establish routines and good habits, everything becomes more manageable. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to do each day – it’s already planned out! This is why routines are better than resolutions – they’re easier to stick to and ultimately produce better results through the power of habit.

Today’s post is about embracing the person you are instead of feeling wrong about the person you’re not. We will also talk about how to foster new habits without feeling overwhelmed.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

Where do I start?

Whenever you’re talking about goals, one of the most important things to remember is that mindset matters. And having a positive attitude can help you overcome any obstacle in your path.

Here are a few other keys to success to remember when you’re considering ambitious goals:

  • Small habits = big transformations
  • Success takes longer than you think
  • Talent has limits, but deliberate practice is limitless
  • Distraction is expensive
  • Failure is on your terms
  • Heal your past
  • Regular physical activity is essential
  • Release perfectionism
  • Get a hobby

And for an in-depth discussion on each of the above secrets to success, check out my previous post.

Why do resolutions fail?

It all comes down to routines. We’re creatures of habit, and if we don’t establish routines in our lives, then it’s tough to make lasting changes.

When you create routines tailored to your goals, habits become easier to adopt, and reaching your goals happens faster than relying on sheer willpower.

Creating routines is also great for staying motivated and focused on your goals. It’s much easier to stay consistent when you have patterns supporting your new habits.

Not only that, but routines can also help quiet the inner critic inside us who is always telling us we’re not good enough or capable of achieving our goals. Routines allow us to trust ourselves and recognize that we can be successful if we break things down into smaller, achievable steps.

Start From Where You Are

Whether your goals revolve around weight loss, taking the next step in your career, or saving enough money for a family vacation, considering your current routines and positive attributes is a crucial starting point.

A good reason why many people fail to achieve common resolutions is that they need to consider their positive traits. Instead of focusing on what’s going well, they spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative qualities or bad habits they’re trying to change.

But everyone has positive qualities about themselves, which make success inevitable. For example, maybe you:

  • Never give up until you see results
  • Love learning new things
  • Are super organized
  • Aren’t afraid to embrace a unique opportunity that comes your way
  • Have an incredible support system

Don’t get so wrapped up in trying to establish a new routine that you forget some of the old habits that are actually working in your favor.

What is a routine?

A routine is simply a set of habits that you can do every day to stay on track and achieve your goals.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or take up a lot of time, either. Routines can be simple:

  • Drinking eight glasses of water a day
  • Eating an apple for breakfast
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Creating routines also helps you become more organized, so you can easily track what needs to be done and when.

And routines are great because they give you something specific to aim for each day, which can help you stay motivated and on track with your goals.

Routines are also much better than resolutions because, unlike resolutions, routines can be adapted or changed as needed.

Positive attribute + New habit = Success!

In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear brings up the idea of habit stacking. This means taking one routine that’s working well and tacking another to help you create consistency.

For example, if you already enjoy going for a 10-minute morning jog, add another habit, like stretching after your jog, and make it part of your morning routine.

This way, routines become additive and build up over time to help you achieve greater success in the long run. Plus, when routines are built up gradually one by one, they are much easier to stick with and maintain.

The key is making routines that support your life’s positive aspects while helping you break away from bad habits.

When you combine routines with a positive attitude, it’s nearly impossible not to succeed!

Present and Future Versions of Yourself

One of the fundamental premises of traditional resolutions is that they often negatively hone in on one aspect of yourself.

Resolutions often focus on one tiny aspect of yourself in a rigid way that may be completely unrealistic. They need to take your life as a whole into consideration to be successful.

And resolutions are unrealistically future-focused in that they assume the future version of yourself will somehow magically be more motivated and inherently better than your current self.

Although we all grow and evolve over time, growth takes work. It doesn’t just magically happen.

The premise behind resolutions is that you’ll somehow wake up on January 1st feeling motivated to hit the gym. Or will suddenly have the resolve to stop impulse buying.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.

Motivation only comes after taking action. And I can guarantee you’ll never wake up and feel like running 3 miles!

A better way is to start thinking about yourself as someone who does the thing you want to do in the present moment instead of the future.

One of the most powerful concepts I learned from Atomic Habits is that if your goal is to get in better shape, you have to start thinking like someone already in better shape.

For example, would someone in great physical shape take the elevator or the stairs?

Would they hit the gym after work or hit play on 3 episodes of their favorite Netflix show? And would they rely on fast food dinners or thoughtfully plan nutritious meals that support their health goals?

Thinking about yourself as someone who does the thing you want to do helps you make better decisions in the present moment. It stops the cycle of future thinking that often causes you to falsely believe you’ll make better decisions tomorrow.

Making routines stick

Now that you know why routines are important, here are a few tips to help you create routines that actually stick:

  • Start small – Start with one routine at a time and then add more routines if necessary.
  • Break routines into actionable steps – Break them down into actionable steps, making them easier to complete.
  • Be flexible – Adjust routines when necessary and make changes as needed.
  • Schedule in advance – Schedule routines and ensure you have enough time to complete them.
  • Find motivation – Find ways to stay motivated and stick with routines even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Reward yourself – Whenever you complete a routine, reward yourself with something special to keep you motivated and on track.

Creating routines is an effective way to reach your goals faster than ever.

By focusing on what makes routines work for you and starting from where you are, you can create habits that stick and help you celebrate the positive attributes within yourself.

So, don’t settle for just resolutions this year; establish routines and watch how your life will transform over time!

And for even more expert advice on the power of habits, check out James Clear’s phenomenal book, Atomic Habits. His writing is clear and concise, and his ideas are incredibly inspiring.

Final Thoughts

Routines are a great way to stay on track with your goals, and you can incorporate routines into your daily schedule without taking too much time.

By understanding why routines are essential, breaking practices down into manageable steps, being flexible when necessary, scheduling routines in advance, and rewarding yourself whenever you complete patterns, you’ll be on the path to achieving your goals in no time!

It’s important to remember that routines are simply habits, and it takes time for them to become second nature.

So don’t get discouraged if you slip up or forget a routine. Just take it one day at a time, and you’ll get there!

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My posts are at the crossroads of piano and self-development, so even if you’re not a piano nerd, you’ll have access to effective personal development content!

If you’re curious, check out a few of my previous posts:

3 thoughts on “Why Routines Are Better Than Resolutions

  1. Lovely post! It’s all about systems, not goals. But yes, they both thrive off each other, as resolutions provide us with a direction, and it’s the routine that gets us where we’re looking at. I love the effort you’ve put into this, Amanda!

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