How to make a new routine or habit stick
Hands up if you've ever started a new regime - healthy eating, exercise, tidy house, more focused at work, etc - with a hiss and a roar, only to fizzle out after a few days. You aren't alone! Making new habits stick is hard, but not impossible. Here are my top tips for taking your new routine from training wheels to automatic pilot.
If you have a large goal, it makes sense to break the goal down into manageable chunks. For example - I have a personal goal of becoming a low-waste household. That goal is purposefully vague, because I don't know what level of waste is considered low, and I need to do more research in order to get us there. But for now I know I want to do what I can to reduce the amount of waste our household puts into landfill, and I know there are areas we can do better. So my first simple goal is to reduce the amount of food waste that goes into landfill. That's it. It doesn't need to be any more complex than that when we are starting out - I can get more tricky once I have mastered this at a basic level.
Write it down!
We have had a worm farm for a while now and all of our vegetable scraps go there. Worms however do not like citrus, some fruit peelings, onions, cooked food and so on. We need another option for all of the stuff the worms won't eat, and I'm going to invest in a Bokashi Bin. To make sure I put the right waste in the right place, I've made a simple two column list of what goes to the worms, and what goes in the Bokashi Bin. If I'm unsure of something I can quickly refer to my list, rather than default to putting it in the general waste bin "just this once" when I'm in a scramble to get dinner on the table and my hands are a mess.
If you live with other people and can reasonably expect them to participate in your new routine, you need to bring them along with you. Explain what you are trying to achieve, how they can help you achieve it, and any rules they need to follow. Remember how you wrote down your plan? Make that available to everyone involved so there is a quick reference close at hand if anyone gets stuck - the fridge is a great communal spot. Keep your expectations of your housemates low - don't expect them to complete a complex task to achieve *your* goal. That's a one way street to Disappointmentville.
There will be slip-ups - to expect perfection when embedding a new habit or routine is unrealistic and maybe a bit naive. But one slip-up should not maketh your downfall! Refer back to what you wrote down, check that it is not overly complicated, and start again. (If you are slipping up repeatedly, you may need to review where you are going awry; the methodology used in my systems review process should work for this too.) If it is not you letting the routine slide, but one of your housemates, don't be deterred! Have a quiet word and see if you can get to the heart of the issue. If it can be resolved and the routine can continue with everyone's input - excellent! But be prepared that you may need to put in some extra steps if your housemate can't get on board - remember, this is your goal, not theirs. Using my worm farm/Bokashi Bin analogy - if the housemate can't be bothered chopping up expired veges into manageable chunks for the worms, ask instead that they leave it in the fridge for you to deal with, rather than just chucking it into the general waste.
There you have it - these are the steps I follow when embedding a new routine or habit. Routines are easier for me to make stick than habits! If you'd like some help establishing a routine in your household, please get in touch, I'd love to discuss how doing so can make life a little easier in the long run.