Most of us aspire to lead a productive life.
We dream that we’d get up one day, do a workout, take a cold shower, eat a healthy breakfast and work on our goals. Then we’d go to sleep, get up and do it all again.
In reality we hit snooze and roll over in bed.
We often have streaks of consistency, followed by days and weeks of inactivity.
Most of us struggle with the same question:
“How can I become consistent for a long period of time?”
When Life Gets in the Way
For a long time I answered that question the same way: Discipline!
I imagined that if I were more disciplined and forced myself to do everything I wanted to do, I’d be consistent.
Yet, I didn’t take into account what life could throw at me.
Over the last four months many difficult things happened: serious family problems surfaced, the father of a close friend died, my thesis neared its deadline and a bunch of other stuff pilled up on top of that. A lot had to be done with little time and with decreasing energy – I became exhausted.
When exhausted, it’s not easy and might not be healthy to force oneself to do more – especially not for a long time. At the same time it’s much harder to rebuild your routines and habits from scratch after weeks of not doing them.
After reflecting on the past months I’ve asked myself how I could stay consistent even in difficult times.
I realized that when I established certain habits or a morning routine, I often tried to do too much. My ego was sabotaging my efforts. I wasn’t humble enough to set up small goals that I could accomplish in difficult times.
I asked myself if I could establish an incredibly basic baseline. Could I establish a routine that was easy to accomplish, no matter what life threw at me?
That’s what I do now.
My daily morning routine looks like this:
- Meditate for 1 minute.
- Do 10 push-ups.
- Reflect on the previous day by writing one line about it in my journal.
- Write for this project for 5 minutes.
Doing everything on this list takes me less than 10 minutes every day. The beauty of this system is that I can do more if I have the energy and time to do so. As I’m writing this, I’m in the 5-minute writing-segment of my routine and have already written for over 45 minutes.
Of course I had huge internal resistance just thinking about setting such incredibly small goals. “You want to meditate for only one minute? Really? You used to meditate 30 minutes every day and now you can’t sit still for 15 minutes?!” But I realized that it was just my Ego talking. I stayed humble and accepted that my plan was a great baseline for a new morning routine and that consistency is far more important than efficiency.
Where to go from Here
This week I will try out the morning routine above and will reflect on it at the end of August. On September 1, I will settle on a morning routine and turn it into habits.
I invite you to do the same!
I’ll publish another post later this week, where I’ll set up criteria for the next month’s experiment: Building a morning routine for tough times.
I’ll let you know when that post goes live and I’ll also track my progress on Instagram and Twitter.
If you tried to establish routines or habits and failed in the past, consider getting on board and ask yourself which habits you want to include in your morning routine right now.
I’ll be back with more details on the September-experiment soon!
Stay on the Meaningful Path!