Routine is essential when it comes to creating new habits that stick.

Without a routine, it’s easy for a new habit, even one that’s been set with the best of intentions, to fall to the wayside and soon be forgotten.

But when it comes to sticking to new routines, things tend to get difficult. It’s safe to say that when it comes to establishing a new routine or habit, there’s always going to be a certain amount of resistance from that side of you that wants to return to the way things were before!

When you reach this point, the natural response is to give up, but it’s important to realize that once you make it past this difficult stage—the “quitting stage” as you might call it—you’ll come out on the other side with a habit and routine that’s firmly established, and one that you’ll finally find easy to stick to!

If you’re looking for help creating a new routine that you’ll be able to commit to, here’s how you can set yourself up for success.

Set Realistic Expectations

Studies vary on how long it takes for a new behavior to become automatic and a new habit to form, anywhere from 18 to 254 days. You’ve also probably heard that it can take 21 days to create a new habit and 90 days to create a new lifestyle. 

This means that when it comes to establishing a new routine or behavior, you’ll want to be realistic about how much time it could take for this new routine to become firmly established. If you’re finding it’s taking longer than you thought to get into the swing of things, don’t feel discouraged! Remind yourself that these things take time and you’re right on track. Progress is success!

Make It Easier

We may dive into our new routine full of excitement and enthusiasm, but the fact is that new routines are actually very fragile. When you first begin you may feel strong enough to carry out your plan, but as time goes on, your resolve may start to weaken. If you find yourself toying with the idea of giving up, don’t throw in the towel! Instead, try to examine your routine and find out where, exactly, things are breaking down.

Author and 99U speaker Ramit Sethi was able to improve his gym attendance by identifying the area that he found difficult, which was getting out of bed and hunting for his clothes. His solution was to ensure that he had his workout gear ready to go for the next day—to help him fight the temptation to sleep in. Find out where you’re struggles are, and look for ways to make things easier on yourself.

Set Clear Goals

Often, we fail to reach our goals because we neglect to break them down into doable steps. Instead, we have lofty ambitions that we never really clearly define and consequently never actually execute.

Instead of leaving your goals as vague or undefined ideals, ensure that they’re tangible. For instance, instead of simply saying that you want to “eat healthier,” define what healthy eating looks like to you. Setting a goal to eliminate sugar three days out of the week or to give up junk food would be a much more effective goal since it’s something that can be measured and acted upon.

Next, break your goal into doable steps. You can go shopping for healthy snacks to have on hand, or get rid of anything sweet that’s lurking in your pantry. Start by clearly defining your goals, and then give yourself actionable steps to reach them.

Get Some Accountability

You know the saying: there’s strength in numbers. When it comes to goal-setting, having the support of friends and family can mean the world; providing you with tremendous motivation to keep going. It’s also helpful to have the support of others who share your pursuits. Whether you’re looking to establish a new workout routine, learn a new language, or master photography—finding a support group, a meetup of like-minded people, will also prove to be invaluable. They’ll be able to help keep you on track, motivate you, sympathize with your struggles, and help you in your journey.

Remember Your Goals

Finally, if you arrive at a point where you feel like giving up, remind yourself of your goals; the reasons that you’re doing this. Keeping your goals close at heart will help you throughout every stage of the journey, but especially during those times where you may feel tempted to quit.

Getting past the ‘quitting’ stage when establishing a new routine is a challenge that we all face. But once you are able to overcome the hurdles and challenges, you’ll be stronger for it. You’ll get that second wind, your routine will soon become second nature, and there will be no stopping you!


Are you working to establish a new routine? How do you overcome the temptation to give in?