Micro-task your way to a new routine!
Incorporating a lifestyle change means that it has to find a place inside your daily life. There are only so many hours in a day and everything that needs doing already has it’s place. That can be a major problem when it comes to making a lifestyle change. Since everything we are already doing has a spot on the schedule, something has to give.
Essentially, your time is already routinized and so what you’re trying to do is steer that ship onto a new heading. In order to do that and be effective long term it might help to follow a few principles. Be specific on what you’re goal is. “I want to start an exercise routine,” is not specific enough. Instead, “I want to take time in the morning to incorporate some exercise before my day starts.”
Ok, this is better, we have a ‘what’ (exercise), a ‘when’ (morning), and at least some aspect of ‘why’ (before the rest of the day starts). In this case what I would coach this person to do is the night before their first day, prep the area for what they want to do. There’s nothing worse than trying to start a new routine and having to dig all your stuff out taking up all that time you carved out.
So, we’re going to get out the mat, arrange the dumbbells, make sure the ball is pumped up, etc. This would also apply to something like, eating a more substantive breakfast as well. Rather than digging through the pantry at 6am for the oatmeal you ‘think’ is still in there and hopefully not expired, get that ready to go the night before and make a trip to the store if you need to.
Establishing a predetermined space helps set us up for a successful attempt. Next would be to identify specific movements to perform. This could literally be anything, however, my personal preference is to err on the low side. I believe in small successes building onto larger ones.
On day #1 they are going to do 3 exercises (1 leg, 1 arm, and an ab). There’s no real reason for that other than it’s a doable number of movements to build on. We’re also keeping this to under 10 minutes. This person may or may not already exercise regularly, however, what they don’t do is workout early in the morning. More than this might be too much to take on and our goal here is getting easy wins.
Use the ‘+1 per week’ rule. This person is going to do these same 3 exercises for a week. Then, when week 2 starts we add in another exercise. Again, at this point it doesn’t much matter what it is (unless there’s a problem we are addressing) only that movement is happening and at a consistent time of day. If we are worried about overuse or recovery, they can do a short stretching session on alternating days. This helps to keep us going on our daily movement goal. Setting a fixed ‘rest’ day is also fine too.
Tweak the week. As they move along, start to tweak each new week’s time and content. One week might be a cardio emphasis during nice weather, or it might be starting a circuit routine. Maybe you find that you have to shift the spot on different days of the week. Make whatever changes you feel like making, remembering that what doesn’t change is the task itself.
It’s also important to remember the reason we were trying to establish this process in the first place. It’s true, working out in the morning might not ever be ‘fun’. However, we needed to do that because otherwise it just wasn’t happening at all. We decided that exercising frequently was needed and now they’re doing it.
Successfully incorporating a new routine into our daily lives can be challenging and there are many ways to accomplish this. I would say that on the whole, they would all follow these keys;
be specific in what you want
set the stage for success
start with a progressive goal, modify what needs modifying
remember why you’re doing it in the first place
Lastly, change is hard, be kind to yourself.