Curious
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Curious

4 Reasons Why Your Daily Routine Isn’t Working

and one concept to help you make changes that last

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

When was the last time you promised yourself that this is the week you’re going to stick to that ideal productivity routine? This is the week you’ll go to sleep early, wake early, write, exercise, eat well, and drink enough water.

Yet here you are again, back at the start. And I’m there too.

I used to think trying and failing at sticking to an ideal daily routine was just a personal failing. Other people can get up at 5am, work out, eat whole grains and avoid sugar, and stick to a daily writing plan. It’s just me with the issue.

But that’s not true. There are four reasons that the new daily routine you have all planned out isn’t going to work — yet again — and it has less to do with the routine itself and more about how you approach change.

Why you can’t stick to your ideal daily routine

There are four key reasons your new routines keep fizzling out.

#1: You have an all or nothing mentality

When you get inspired to make changes in your life, you go all the way. New diet? You’re going to change what you currently eat at every single meal. New workout routine? Get ready body — no more sitting around…at all!

Trying to force yourself into an extreme daily routine is futile if you go about it the wrong way — with an all or nothing mentality. That mindset is a cognitive distortion, making it impossible to succeed and generate any lasting change.

#2: You’re powered by emotion

The decision to make a drastic change to your life is often powered by a strong emotion. Emotions are transient. You’re going to feel like you want to give up after day four or five.

And if you can’t sustain that emotion, you probably will. You will slowly slide back into old patterns and routines, and get frustrated when you have to start over.

#3: You’re trying to fit your life into someone else’s mold

The decision to make a drastic change may be motivated by a comparison to someone else’ way of living. “If it worked for them, it will work for me too,” you think. In reality, this is not always the case. Perhaps an element of what they do may help you, but it’s not guaranteed.

Should you learn from others and take elements of their process to create your own? Of course.

Should you consider yourself a failure if you can’t “keep up” with their prescribed way of doing things? Definitely not.

#4: You think it should be hard

If you are trying to change your daily routine, it means you aren’t satisfied with the way things are. You want to find a new way forward. This is positive, but you can turn it negative if you assume it should be difficult.

You should enjoy your life. You shouldn’t struggle with your routine — you should love every second of your day! Your routine should add to your experience, not take away from it.

What’s the answer?

You need a new way of introducing change, and making sure that change lasts (and benefits you).

You need to A/B test.

A/B testing: how it works

A/B testing, also called split testing, is the process of comparing two versions of one thing to figure out which one works better.

Us marketers commonly use this to test which versions of a website users are more likely to become customers in order to optimize performance of our campaigns.

However, there is a golden rule to follow when conducting an A/B test. You can only change one thing at a time. That’s how you figure out what changes make an impact, and what don’t.

On a web page, I might create a second version that has a slightly bigger “Buy Now” button, and test it with the original button size to see if that makes more people click.

But if I change the button text to say “Learn More” AND make the button bigger, how will I know which change drove results?

Put it into practice

If you start getting up at 6am instead of 7am for one week straight, ask yourself how you feel at the end of the week. Did rising earlier affect your mood or productivity?

But if you get up at 6am, switch to a keto diet, and start a new workout routine — all in the same week — how will you know what helped? It’ll be a lot harder to figure out what had an impact for you, and what changes didn’t.

Recently, I decided to try an anti-inflammatory diet. I bought all the ingredients I would need to prepare all of my meals for a week. I planned to change every type of food I was eating at every meal.

Bad idea.

Due to a hectic schedule at work, I quickly regressed and found myself eating takeout one night, when greek salad and sweet potatoes should have been on the menu.

Instead, this week, I decided to try to make one change. Instead of skipping breakfast (my usual routine), I would try to make a green smoothie and consume that first thing, before coffee or any of my random mid-morning snacks.

This is the only change I’ve made to my entire life this week, and the results are mind-blowing. I’m feeling more energized and engaged in my day.

I didn’t need a whole new diet plan to start feeling the effects of positive change. Just this one alteration has gotten me closer to my goal, and it’s so much easier to manage than a complete overhaul of my eating.

How I tested this change was just as impactful as the change itself, because I learned more about myself following this process.

Final thoughts

We all want to see results, and see them as quickly as possible, but think about what you’re chasing.

Do you want to sprint towards an imaginary finish line when you have a perfect diet, routine, and health? Or do you want to build a life that’s good for you, that you enjoy?

Just test one small slight change at a time — you will get there faster.

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