Resolutions are out. Routines are in.
Here’s how to build one.
So… we’re about a month into 2023. How’s it going for you? While some are looking forward to having their first cocktail (or mocktail) of the year on February 1, others may be wondering where the month went — and how to catch up on their New Year’s resolutions.
Whether you started 2023 disciplined or distracted, there’s still 11 months to go, and that’s plenty of time to build healthy habits (like finally flossing and not lying to your dentist). But before you recommit to overhauling your life again this month, may we propose a slight rethink to your resolutions? Like… building routines, instead?
Harvard says they’re one of the most effective tools for self-improvement. And of course, we agree! Simply put, routines are a sequence of actions done over and over. Our lives are dictated by them — sleep, work, walking your dog — but how do you actually build one? A lot of info around habit-building is easy to access, but hard to digest. Let us chew through the tough stuff and dish out what you need to know to make your routines last through 2023 and beyond.
First, take an honest look at your mornings and your nights
Are you a chirpy morning bird, or a creative night owl? Either way, you can probably upgrade your current routine to work in favor of your long-term goals, like going outside more often or reading before bed. Just be realistic — maybe add some sunlight to your morning scroll through Twitter, or cut back on your late-night Netflix binge instead of swearing it off altogether.
Reclaiming some AM and PM time for your goals may help you enjoy a ripple effect of increased mindfulness — moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and environment, through a nurturing lens. #quiptip: Can you be slightly more self-aware during your brushing? Notice where you’re rushing the process or zoning out. Your ability to focus on small (but highly impactful!) everyday actions will come in handy as you gradually improve your daily habits.
Pay extra attention to your sleep rituals (or lack thereof)
Sunrise and sunset are ideal times to practice mindfulness, since the change in sunlight alerts our body to the passing of time. Fortunately/unfortunately, modern living has made it easy to stay plugged in around the clock. Yes, we see you brushing your teeth on BeReal, lol. It’s no secret that blue light from our devices interferes with our rest, but it’s only one of the many disruptors that lead to sleep deprivation — which over 40 million Americans suffer from. Catching some extra zzz’s this year can help strengthen your brain’s habit-building cognitive functions, like memory, self-control, and emotional regulation. Pretty important stuff!
Wind down slowly (turn off bright lights, avoid “new” tasks, perhaps lean into #scroogecore) to prepare your body for a night of great sleep, which is literally like flossing for your brain. The key here is to bookend your days with a small action that helps you relax and connects to a long-term goal. This is how you build up the habit — eventually, it’ll become routine. Stephen King writes 2,000 words every morning. Queen Elizabeth took a bath and caught up on racing news. Kim chats with North. You do your thing :)
Connect with your support system
Have you ever called someone to keep you company while doing chores or running errands? Connection — with our friends, family members, partners, and even animals — helps our routines stick. Why? Because… pics or it didn’t happen? Not really, but something like that. Sharing our wins with our social circles makes us feel good (and strengthens our bonds, too). Use your relationships as a place for authentic connection — that includes keeping each other accountable.
You won’t always get it right — that’s part of the process! What matters is that you try again, and a coffee date or brisk walk with a good friend can help you do that. Find someone you trust (who ideally has healthy habits, or is also on their way to building them) and share your goals. Whether your accountability partner is human or digital, having one is very effective. Celebrate with them when you follow through, and ask for support when you feel like you’re falling off track.
Give yourself credit
The spirit of celebration brings us to our final point, which is all about harnessing your own happiness. If you’re going to make big changes to live your best life, you should definitely enjoy the ride! Expressing gratitude for your daily efforts will motivate you to stay consistent, and add some lightness to the process of “self-improvement.” You don’t want to end up flying too close to the sun (though we totally support shouting your joy from the rooftops).
One simple method to track your wins is to keep a running list of moments where you felt proud and present with your goals. Add to it everyday or every once in a while — you’ll be surprised at how fast they build up! At the end of the year (or even just the month of February) you’ll have an archive of daily delights to look back on, plus a sustainable routine that fulfills you and your goals.
So routines are in — are you?
Self-improvement through daily action may seem less glamorous than your traditional New Year’s resolution, but it’s still something to aspire to as we navigate another year of post-2020 life. To recap: hack your mornings and nights, upgrade your sleep sched, text your accountability buddy, and add 5 minutes of gratitude to your calendar a few days a week. That’s really all it takes to start.
Here’s our shameless plug: if you need a bit more practice keeping healthy habits, try using the quip app for iOS and Android to track your oral health care routine! On top of earning streaks for brushing, flossing, and rinsing, you’ll win actual rewards (free products, partner discounts, and more) when you stay consistent. Now get out there and have fun changing the world — or just your habits :)