Emily Stone, LICSW, social worker and Senior Clinical Strategist at Mightier
Whenever a new year begins, we tend to gravitate towards new goals.
Whether your goal is more movement throughout the day, extra time together as a family during the weeknights, or practicing a new skill like mindfulness, these things take time and practice.
At Mightier, we love to talk about routine. Routine is how we organize and get things done. It can help the world to feel a bit less overwhelming and can help us to prioritize.
When it comes to new goals, routine helps to ensure time is carved out to practice new things. It is how we make time and space for things that are outside of our more ritualistic daily activities.
At first, this new routine and goal can feel really exciting. Trying something new can spark a boost in mood, self-esteem, and positive feelings.
As time goes on, a new goal can become more challenging. The natural tendency is sometimes to give up or take a break. This is okay! It is natural to feel like this! Our body and brain are working in overdrive to learn and change behavior.
This is when routine can come in handy. It helps us to stick to our plan and persevere through times where it does not feel natural or like it may be too challenging.
Do I mean that if your goal is more time together as a family on weeknights that you have to have an elaborate, nightly activity for your family? Of course not! Does it mean that if you want to get more movement into your day that you have to go run 6 miles every morning? Definitely not!
In order to make time and space to learn new things, finding a routine that works for you and that is reasonable is crucial. That doesn’t mean starting off with what your end goal is and trying to do that every single day. It means slowly building up towards that goal in small, digestible steps. If you want to spend more time as a family, trying to have a game night one day of the week as an initial goal, may be easier to accomplish.
Like any muscle, our brain takes time and practice to get stronger and more flexible. Using routine can help carve out time to get this practice in.