I have been doing yoga daily for about 4 years now. I have also been journaling for 165 consecutive days and currently I am on a 16-day blogging streak.
My mom has been on a Duolingo streak learning Japanese for 520 days straight and my partner is on day 356 of his OC365 passion project that involves making an original character a day.
We always hear about resolutions being set for the new year and how they inevitably taper off until the habits are out of mind. I think the problem with this approach is setting a day – typically January 1st – that we may not be ready for and deciding that a huge and vague life change will miraculously happen then.
Here’s how you can set up and stick to daily habits realistically without disappointment:
- Find Your Why. Why do you want to exercise every day? Why do you want to create every day? Why do you want to learn Japanese? If you want to improve the quality of your life or work towards a specific goal, such as feeling better overall mentally or writing a novel or travelling to a foreign country and being able to navigate around, you will need a clear reason. This will be unique to you.
- Show Up. When I started doing yoga every day, I only did poses for 5 minutes at a time. I wanted to first cultivate the habit of showing up, because that is ultimately the hardest part with anything. You cannot work on improving something consistently without consistency, so starting small to then work up to 15 minutes and eventually to 40 minutes or even an hour becomes plausible and easier.
- Be Flexible. Some days are much harder than others. Maintaining daily habits means having to work with and without motivation, so leaning into self-discipline and dedication is key here. You will have to put in the work even when you do not want to or may not be able to. To account for this, adjust your expectations. Do less. It is far better in the long-run to do it poorly than to forego it completely.
- Do What Works For You. Maybe you want to work out every day, but doing cardio just does not seem to be working. Try yoga, lifting weights, going for walks, or anything else instead that you will want to commit to daily. Forcing yourself to do what you think you should do in a way that is not compatible with your needs will lead to resentment and an abandonment of your initial goals.
There is no real right or wrong way to go about sticking to daily habits, but this is what I have found to work for me and my loved ones. Little things build up, so do not discount the progress you have made or will make just because you cannot yet see the results of your efforts. In time, with patience and consistency, you will see your dedication amount to great things. Soon people will be asking you how you did it, but you may be surprised to find that all it is is to just start and keep going. It is really that easy.
You do not have to wait for the next January 1st. You can start small now.
If you started the thing you have always wanted to try today and worked on it bit by bit daily, where do you think it will take you in a year? The first 30 days may be the hardest, but you can see results as quickly as within 2 weeks. It will make you stronger as a person, more capable and willing to take on more.