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Healthy You

How to Start a New Routine and Stick To It

Monday, January 09, 2017 8:35 AM

The new year brings us new resolutions and habits that we set out to achieve. While sometimes we accomplish our resolutions, sometimes we encounter unforeseen roadblocks. In order to avoid the roadblocks and achieve our goals, we need to set up a new routine and stick to it. Amanda Caplan, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, knows that new routines can be challenging.


Follow these tips from Dr. Caplan and you’ll be in a new routine in no time:

  • Decide what needs to be in your routine. Do you want to get more exercise or more alone time? Prioritizing what is important to you before starting is key!
  • Set small goals. Break each large goal into smaller goals. While a big goal is exciting to tackle, it is what often leads to failure as we take on too much. If your overall goal is to eat healthier meals, start by changing one thing a day, every day, to build confidence. When you accomplish that, congratulate yourself!  
  • Lay out a plan. Start with one week at a time and start small – that way you can build on simple accomplishments. Write it all out on a calendar, almost like an appointment.
  • Be consistent with time. If you want to get a daily walk in, attempt it at the same time every day. Completing your tasks first thing in the morning before losing motivation allows you to enjoy benefits all day. If you want to get to the gym, do it on your way to or from work, you will have more success.  Most people won’t want to leave the warm house once they get home.
  • Be prepared. When deciding upon a new routine, make sure you have all the pieces before you start; this will make it easier to get started without any delay. For example if a new resolution is to clean the house every Saturday morning, make sure your vacuum cleaner is working properly and you have all the cleaning materials needed.
  • Make it fun! Getting into a new routine and new goals isn’t always fun, but there are ways to make it fun. Find a workout buddy, get a good playlist for cleaning and try new cooking classes – anything to help you enjoy your new routine.
  • Track your progress. Create a visual calendar that you can cross off each day that you complete the task. Most people don’t want to “break the chain” and see a missing spot on their calendar.
  • Reward yourself. Once you have fallen into a routine on a consistent basis, reward yourself with something fun. For example if your goal was to get into a routine of picking up clutter every night before bed, reward yourself with new slippers that you can enjoy around the clean house.

What are your tricks for sticking to a routine?