“We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle famously declared. “Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

‘Tis the season for us reflect on the past year and think about our aspirations for the future. Many of us spend this time reviewing our personal successes, accomplishments, failures, and opportunities for improvement as we set personal goals and ‘resolutions’ for the upcoming year. However, despite all our grand plans, only a tiny fraction of us actually keep our resolutions and attain the well-intended goals that we set out for ourselves. All too often, we find ourselves slipping back into old habits before February even hits.

Why do so many people fail at resolution setting? What are the secrets behind those who succeed?

It all boils down to having a good routine.

Only by taking charge of your day-to-day can you truly make an impact on what matters most to you. When you set out to achieve your goals and aspirations in this upcoming year, I want you to keep in mind that what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. By having this mindset, you can easily achieve all that you set out to do.

A consistent routine encourages positive habits, removes the opportunity for excuses, anchors the creative process, and cuts the things that aren’t serving you. With a routine in place, you already know what you’ve got to do. You don’t have to count on motivation to get you going. You count on discipline and dedication.

I’ve personally had a big focus on my morning routine this year. For a period of time, I would exercise, meditate, write some morning pages and identify 3 things I was grateful for all before checking my phone. It was amazing to have all that ‘me’ time to get my mind right for the day before dealing with anything on my phone. I found that I had an incredible amount of focus and was able to take on the day with such a clear mind.

I’ve also reaped the rewards of having a set routine for my running training. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run for me. Over time, I learned that I was less likely to run later in the day. Something ‘urgent’ always came up and it was easy to dismiss my running plans. With that understanding, I intentionally set my routine to always do my runs in the morning — meaning that even if I have to get up at 4am to get it done before an early workday, I do it. On days that I want to hit the snooze button, I remind myself that some of my best runs come on days when I didn’t feel like running. I have a set schedule and know what I am going to do before the next day arrives. There’s no thinking involved. It’s simply a habit.

All it takes is the discipline to stick to good habits and you’ll achieve your goals before you know it.

What is the ‘right’ routine for you?

Admittedly, I have fascination with learning the routines and habits of other successful people. I love listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast during runs and have enjoyed trying on some of the habits and routines he teases out of highly successful people. However, you’d certainly be misguided to think that you’ll magically turn into a success if you follow someone else’s routine. A glimpse into the day-to-day of others can be helpful, but following their specific routines will not miraculously replicate their genius or success. The biggest take away is that successful people are consistent. They find ways to make themselves do the hard things and base their daily actions off of their goals versus their current feelings.

There is incredible value in finding a good routine that works for you. You can start to build your personal routine by stepping outside of your day and analyzing what really matters when it comes to making your goals, resolutions, ideas and aspirations happen.

Take a good look at how you manage your time everyday. First, you need to map out what you currently do on a day-to-day basis — from the time you first wake up to the time you go to sleep. Once you’ve mapped out your days, examine what you’re exerting your energy on and determine if it’s worth it. Weed out everything in your day-to-day life that isn’t helping you move forward. It’s nearly impossible to reach what you want if you’re wasting time and energy on things that are holding you back. Cut out those things that aren’t serving you, and replace the bad with the good.

Our individual practices ultimately determine what we do and how well we do it. Specifically, it’s our routine (or lack thereof) that determines our ability to achieve great things in our lives.

Remember, success is just a habit repeated over and over again. Set a routine that works for you and practice sticking to it on a daily basis.

You know what you’ve got to do. Now do it!

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Originally published at medium.com