How Routine Can Translate Your Resolutions Into Reality

We all have aspirations for a better future. Many of us set New Year's Resolutions. Many of us don't. For those who don't, often it is due to a lack of belief in our ability to remain consistent in keeping those new resolutions.

Yet, deep down all of us really desire positive change and momentum in our lives. 

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I'd love to share with you something that has challenged and helped empower me to turn several resolutions into reality.  Routine. 

Image credit: ChicagoNow 

Image credit: ChicagoNow 

rou·tine  ro͞oˈtēn/ noun

1. A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

I know it sounds simple enough, yet the impact a routine can have on your dreams and fresh goals are profound. For most goals, it is a make or break issue. 

It's one thing to make a decision, it's an entirely different thing to manage a decision. 

The truth is that consistency compounds.

If we will let it, a routine can bring exponential results to our lives.

Sometimes we have to embrace the monotonous if we want to see the "miraculous". And it takes work. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden knew this when he often taught his players this life secret, "Nothing will work unless you do." 

Every athlete we admire knows this. I recently finished an excellent book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It was easily the most impacting book I read in 2017. 

Image credit: Barnes& 

Image credit: Barnes& 

In one of the chapters, the author chronicles Micheal Phelps routine before a swim meet. Check out just a few details of the routine from the most decorated Olympic athlete in history. 

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Image Credit: 

For years before the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps won the gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he followed the same routine at every race. He arrived two hours early. He stretched and loosened up, according to a precise pattern: eight hundred mixer, fifty freestyle, six hundred kicking with kickboard, four hundred pulling a buoy, and more. After the warm-up, he would dry off, put in his earphones, and sit-never lie down-on the massage table. From that moment, he and his coach, Bob Bowman, wouldn't speak a word to each other until after the race was over. 

At forty-five minutes before the race, he would put on his race suit. At thirty minutes he would get into the warm-up pool and do six hundred to eight hundred meters. With ten minutes to go, he would walk to the ready room. He would find a seat alone, never next to anyone. He liked to keep the seats on both sides of him clear for his things: goggles on one side and his towel on the other. When his race was called he would walk to the blocks. There he would do what he always did: two stretches, first a straight-leg stretch and then with a bent knee. Left leg first every time. Then the right earbud would come out. When his name was called, he would take out the left earbud. He would step onto the block-always from the left side. He would dry the block-every time. Then he would stand and flap his arms in such a way that his hands hit his back. (excerpt from pages 203-204, Essentialism) 

A glimpse of Michael's work-out routine can be seen in the inspirational Under Armour ad that went viral. 

It's true, what we do in the dark is what will put us in the light. 

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Phelps and his coach meticulously developed a routine in order to help calm nerves and make victory just another natural progression in a long line of habits. This routine was not "superstitious" it was meticulously designed to discipline Michael to get into the right frame of mind for success. 

This routine involved Michael's coach teaching him to visualize himself, in vivid detail, getting out of the pool after winning each race. It was the last thing he thought about before going to sleep and the first thing he pictured in his mind when he woke up. 

What is the last thing you think about each day?

What is the first thing you think about when you wake up? Is it intentional?

Is it part of the design of your day? It could be.

Getting in the right frame of mind at the start and close of each day may help you more than you think!

Without his routine, or set of intentional habits, Phelps' resolutions would have never become reality. And lots of us would have never watched as much Olympic swimming in the wee hours of the morning as we did! 

The excellent book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, taught us that:

Every habit is comprised of three basic elements: CUE, ROUTINE, and REWARD. 

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Image credit: 

We have the ability to intentionally put new cues in our lives and then design routines that will help us reach the results (rewards) we desire. Scripture verses, pictures, personal declarations, vision statements are all tools at our everyday disposal. 

You and I may never win an Olympic gold medal or even have a desire to. That's not the point. The point is to establish some everyday habits that can bring about the extraordinary results you truly desire. 

To experience uncommon results we often have to embrace common routines. 

Listen to a few words of wisdom from Dr. Mike Murdock,

  • "The secret of success is hidden in the daily routine." 
  • "Successful people do daily, what unsuccessful people do occasionally." 
  • "Discipline will take you further than desire ever could." 

Now before you get discouraged, throw your hands up and say "Good for you, but I can't seem to do anything consistently!" Just know I'm with you. I regularly struggle to put together a solid week of workouts, healthy eating habits, and regular flossing! 

But I've found these secrets to establishing routines in my life to be incredibly effective when it comes to health, relationships, finances, career goals and spiritual growth. 

Routine helps me stay on course even when I don't feel like it...which for me is about 80% of the time! 

It's a beautiful thing when desire feeds discipline. But it is also a beautiful thing when discipline feed desire.

"Desire and discipline are partners not rivals." 

John Maxwell nailed this concept when he recently said,

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"Never rely on enthusiasm to replace rigorous discipline and a detailed plan. To sustain growth you need to schedule it." 

Pastor and author Levi Lusko, also spoke to this issue in a recent message: 

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In my walk with Jesus, my routine is only a means to an end-closer intimacy with the Son of God. All my prayer, Bible-reading, fasting, and scripture memorization is all centered around that one goal.

My focus is on my Maker, not my method but it's the routine that strengthens our bond! 

Proverbs teaches us that when we commit our plans (routines) to the Lord, He will add favor and success to our steps. (Proverbs 16:3) 

Our lives are empowered by grace not just driven by discipline.

Yet, even Jesus called His followers disciples which means "disciplined ones". Maybe discipline isn’t a dirty word. Maybe our lives really are a measure of grit & grace. 

Routines may be boring at times, but without them we don’t we’ll never reach our redemptive potential.

Without some kind of intentional routine (regardless of your personality type) you might as well sign yourself up for a life of regret.

Living plagued with I-wish-I-had-guilt is a heavy burden I would not want anyone to live under.  

So what baby steps can you take? We are now ten days into the New Year...that is long enough for about 90% of us to be tempted to give up on the change we hoped for in 2018. Don't give in!

There is a reward to enjoy on the other side of the routine you design. 

Just remember...Dream BIG, plan early and start small.

"Someday" is not a day on either of our calendars. If you fell off the wagon this New Year, get back on! There is too much at stake for you to quit now. 

There is no need to keep drifting into 2018.

Why live by default? Why not take some time and design a day and keep taking baby steps towards walking it out with consistency. 

Before any of us can change our lives we have to learn with the help of God's grace to manage a single day. 

If you keep on practicing these common but often neglected "life secrets" 2018 may literally be your best year yet!

Great grace to you my friend. You are probably doing better than you think. Keep going:)

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Next week I'll share a routine that has been helping my prayer life. 

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Joshua Finley