Lifestyle Foundations: Sustainable Routine and Consistency
While I was in university I managed to keep a fairly stable routine. I would get to school by 6 am to go to the gym, shower at school, go get my morning latte, and then study in the library before class. I’d pack a lunch to bring each day and I’d meal prep on weekends. Aside from exam periods, I maintained this routine for 3 years. Then… December 2017… I graduated and got laid off…
In the first three months of 2018 I had nowhere to be and had nothing to do. This was an extremely empty feeling for me since, for as long as I can remember, there was always something that needed to be done. After a while I did manage to develop some routine of going to the gym at 6, being home by 8:30 and starting to apply for jobs by 9. But there are only so many job applications you can do in a day and I slowly started to get into the habit of being lazy and binge watching Netflix and eating pizza on my bedroom floor.
Then, in April 2018, I lined up a job in a new province and moved. For the past year I have been managing a private real estate franchise where I work from home and don’t have set hours. Overall, it is a pretty sweet gig. Although, to anyone who may be envious of the fact that I can do work in my housecoat: don’t be. For the first little bit after starting this new job, that is exactly what I did: wake up around 8:00 and have breakfast, peruse social media and start work somewhere around 9:00. The thing was, after a couple of months I was starting to go crazy. I was never going to the gym, I barely left my apartment, and it’s difficult to motivate yourself to be motivated to do work when you can just procrastinate and watch Netflix all day. After my stint of being unemployed and graduated, I was so used to not accomplishing anything in a day
I eventually had my “oh my god, what am I doing with my life” moment after having a breakdown over work. This wasn’t just a “oh my goodness I’m stressed over work” panic. It was a full blow me crying on the couch unable to do anything because I felt like my life was empty. After talking things through with my partner I realized I had to start making some changes. I started by waking up at 7:00 on weekdays and having a good breakfast (2 eggs, 1 cup spinach, coffee) and glass of water (if you currently don’t drink water first thing in the morning you 11/10 should start, it does wonders). In order to wake up at the same time everyday I found it helpful to go to bed at the same time everyday. My evening routine on weeknights consists of turning off electronics (phone/laptop/tv) an hour before bed. During this time I wash my face, set out my gym clothes, and read a book in bed.
It sounds like such a small change, but this routine has helped me a lot. It’s sustainable which helps me stay consistent. Usually I try to go to the gym after breakfast. This is something I still struggle with because my gym is a 30 minute walk away, so by time I sit down to work it’s 11:00. As a morning person this doesn’t really work for me. Right now I’m considering some alternatives to make this work:
- Wake up an hour earlier
- Get into the habit of leaving the house at 8:00 each day (whether it’s for the gym or just to go for a walk)
- Start going to a closer gym.
Overall, I find that my biggest problem is that after breakfast I just want to curl up on the couch with a book. Some days I can motivate myself enough to get to the gym, other days I do just plunk down on the couch and start working.
My most important take away from all of this is that good routines take time to build and that you have to start small. I used to be the kind of person who would say “starting Monday I’m going to go to the gym 5x a week and not eat junk food”. Clearly that doesn’t work. What I started with was building my solid foundation of having a consistent morning and evening routine. Now that I have that mastered, I can start building up from there. My next step is going to be having a consistent workout schedule. My goal is to get back to working out five days a week, like I was doing in university.
I hope you enjoyed my post! And I’d love to hear what you do to stay consistent.