How to Design a Daily Routine That Supports Your Goals

This post may contain affiliate links. See our policy page for more information.

girl writing in a daily planner while painting her nails

With so much hype around building the perfect daily routine, I don’t blame you if you’re not interested in jumping on that personal development train yourself.

I get it – why would you willingly plan to do the same thing every single day, over and over again? Isn’t it just a bit too limiting and tedious? How can that foster your growth? 

Whether it’s productivity gurus, wellness influencers, or mental health professionals, we’re often bombarded with social media posts and inspiring videos about creating the ultimate daily routine for productivity consisting of getting up at 4 AM, working out, eating greens, meditating, doing yoga, or reading all before sunrise… 

Rather than getting motivated about proactively approaching our daily lives, we end up feeling discouraged and embarrassed about not trying hard enough while others are hustling. 

But what if I told you that: 

  • a daily routine is supposed to be custom-made and tailored to your needs
  • a productive daily routine differs from one person to another? 
  • it’s you who has all the power to choose what your daily routine consists of?

Yes, it can be a rigid set of boring activities OR a flexible schedule that makes you excited about living your life! 

If you feel like your long-term goals, major dreams, or fantasies always take a back seat due to more urgent and tedious activities – you’re not alone. But worry not! The solution is extremely simple. You can take charge of your dreams step by step.

Start by tweaking your day-to-day life just a bit. Introduce a routine where you dedicate time to work toward your ambitious goals, one day at a time.

How to achieve that?
What goals to pick?
How to build the best daily routine for success?

We dive into all that and more in this blog post, so keep reading to learn more!

How Daily Routines and Long-Term Goals are Connected?

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the words: long-term goals?

Maybe it’s a vivid image like running a marathon, graduating from university, getting promoted, or buying a house…

While inspiring, these objectives might seem incredibly ambitious or almost impossible to achieve. Not to mention that the discrepancy between your current state and the final goal[1] can be so significant that starting any action can feel too intimidating. That’s precisely how you might end up paralyzed, not giving yourself a real shot at making your dreams come true. 

It’s super important to keep in mind that those examples are the outcome of our work, the fruit of our labor, or the metaphorical cherry on top.

We often forget to consider the countless hours, days, and months of hard work required to achieve those goals. The daily grind that gets us to the finish line.

Only when you examine your dreams with a magnifying glass can you see the process of becoming a different version of yourself. Long-term projects require a step-by-step approach, where progress is made one day at a time.

To run a marathon, you don’t have to be a fantastic runner to begin with. You don’t have to run the length of a marathon each day. You don’t have to be extreme – just consistent. Make a training plan and stick to it. Show up and build your momentum, your stamina, and the ability to run further and further. Until you can run a marathon. 

Consistency is, time and again, one of the best ways to ensure your long-term success. But what if you:

That’s where a solid daily routine comes to the rescue

I’m sure you already perform different routines throughout your day, whether you realize it or not: 

  • You may have a favorite route back home from work.
  • You might brew your coffee in the morning before going out, OR you might prefer to grab it on the way to the office at a nearby coffee shop.
  • Perhaps you enjoy a Friday night ritual, whether it’s ordering a pizza, meeting up with your friends in a pub, or catching up with your family after a long week.

We are creatures of habit, after all. However, an opportunity we often miss is creating habits directed at achieving long-term goals:

  • Want to learn a new language? Start with a micro habit like spending 15 minutes on an app like Duolingo before sleep every night.
  • Dreaming of starting your business? Commit to waking up 1 hour earlier every Tuesday and Friday to work toward that. 
  • You’d love to move to Australia, but there’s just so much planning to do? Block time in your calendar to research this idea, make a task list, and work on it a little bit each day. 

The Benefits of Developing a Daily Routine that Supports Your Goals

If you’re still not convinced whether establishing a daily routine could really help you make your dreams come true – let me share with you the benefits of putting in the work to develop your very own daily routine for success and happiness:

1. It keeps your priorities straight

Each Monday, we tend to throw ourselves into the whirlpool of emails to reply to, meetings to attend, calls to return, and schedules to fill. There’s always something urgent to do, a fire to put out, and it’s easy to get side-tracked and drown in responsibilities that move us further away from our long-term goals.

The antidote to that busyness is creating a daily routine that consists of tasks or actions that move you closer to realizing your dreams.

Not to mention that such a routine reduces your decision fatigue.[2] No need to make hundreds of choices – with a well-established routine, you avoid wasting your limited resources on things that don’t contribute to your long-term goals.

It’s like hiking with a map or compass – no matter what happens throughout your day, you don’t flinch and keep your eyes on the prize. 

2. It builds momentum

Daily routines are the building blocks that, when consistently performed, bring us to the final result – achieving your long-term goal, the cherry on top! Rather than dreaming about those accomplishments and pushing them to the back burner, you can consciously choose to act on them every single day. 

The more often you show up for yourself, the more progress you make, and the easier it gets to repeat your routine. After a while, your habit is created.

Instead of putting in extra effort each time, your routine is automated. Rather than struggling with an overwhelming long-term goal, you simply keep going forward.

3. It keeps you committed

Following a daily routine that aligns with your core values not only adds a sense of structure to your life but also imbues it with meaning and purpose.

No matter how unmotivated you might feel on some days, such a routine won’t be an annoying chore but a challenging mission, your commitment to yourself, and your investment in your growth.

As you take on this proactive approach, you can notice how your daily choices contribute to changing your life for the better, one step at a time.

At the end of the day, it’s you who’s responsible for making your dreams come true.

Once you experience that in your own skin and see your progress, the commitment grows stronger than ever. There’s no other way than to become your own accountability buddy, cheering yourself on and ensuring you stay on the right track!

Does Your Current Routine Support Your Long-Term Goals?

You might be thinking: 

“Ok, very cool idea, but how am I supposed to work daily on my long-term goals? 

I’m already struggling to find more free time. My schedule is overflowing with responsibilities; there’s no need to put too much on my plate. I don’t think this is realistic.”

While these worries are valid, there’s also a lot of room for improvement in how you navigate your daily life. Let’s start with a couple of questions for you to reflect on:

  • Can you name 3 of your long-term goals?
  • Have you planned and broken them down into smaller steps to fulfill?
  • How do you track your quarterly/monthly/weekly progress?
  • Could you explain briefly what you do daily to achieve them?
  • How much time, on average, do you spend on these goals weekly?
  • Do you block time for those activities in your calendar?
  • What are the most time-consuming activities in your free time?
  • What is your screen time on your phone?

Sometimes, all we need is a reality check. Perhaps it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a good idea to be radically honest with yourself if you wish to live your dream life. 

According to humanistic psychology[3], we perceive ourselves in two ways: the actual self and the ideal self.

While the former illustrates our current situation and who we are now, the latter refers to who we’d like to become. The discrepancy between the two concepts often shows us how to improve, what to change, and what long-term goals to pick. 

You can take on the role of a scientist observing your daily routines and ask yourself whether they bring you closer or move you away from your dreams.

Perhaps you would really love to achieve your long-term goals, but you feel like you simply don’t have enough hours during the day to work on them. 

To verify the validity of that belief, I recommend using an excellent tool called the Eisenhower Matrix.[4] Here’s how to check whether your current daily routine aligns with your long-term goals in a nutshell:

Things we spend time on can be divided into four categories:

Categories1: Important & Urgent2: Not Important & Urgent3: Not Important & Not Urgent4: Important & Not Urgent
Deadline
Personal importance
Examplegiving a presentation on a big project at workhelping a friend finish their project in timebinge-watching Netflix, procrastinatingworking on a passion project, i.e. learning how to play an instrument 

So often, we spend most of our time doing things from categories 1, 2, and 3, completely neglecting category 4. It can feel essential to give priority to whatever’s most time-sensitive. Then, we also spend time doing things that are enjoyable in the short term to unwind and relax after a busy day. 

But what if you blocked time for personal development, investing in your growth, and working on your long-term goals

Perhaps you could start your day by prioritizing your dreams? 

Wouldn’t that be the best morning routine for success?

How to Design a Daily Routine that Supports Your Goals

Step 1: Identify Your Priorities

Designing an effective daily routine starts with connecting to what’s important to you.

Sounds obvious, right?

Well, many of us fail to differentiate between our internal priorities and those rooted in societal expectations of what should be important to us. 

Pin-pointing what matters most to you in life will allow you to create goals saturated with meaning and purpose. Some of those priorities might be:

  • physical and mental health
  • spending time with your family
  • career development
  • traveling the world
  • finding true love
  • caring for your friends
  • learning new skills
  • being eco-friendly 

Step 2: Formulate Long-Term Goals

With your priorities in mind, it’s easier to create a set of long-term goals to work on. It can add clarity to the vision of your future self and help you make tougher decisions, such as potential trade-offs and things to give up in order to fulfill your goals. 

Let’s say supporting your physical and mental health is one of the things that are dearest to your heart. Staying connected to that priority will help you align your daily life with it, i.e.:

  • you might replace smoking cigarettes with your colleagues during a lunch break with eating a well-balanced meal,
  • going out each weekend and getting drunk won’t be as tempting,
  • you can feel inclined to create a self-care routine that’ll replenish your resources and keep your cup full.

Perhaps your long-term goal here can be as simple as discovering a new practice that will help you feel nourished and keep on developing it. You might choose to attend yoga classes, go on a solo mountain hike, or complete a mindfulness course. 

Step 3: Break Them Down

Once you choose your long-term goal, it’s time to take that magnifying glass and inspect your dream a bit closer. 

How will you track your progress?
Can you think of any milestones to achieve?
What about smaller steps to take every week?

If you dream of starting a podcast, you can simply sit down, hit record, and talk to a microphone. Yet, the chances of that strategy working out in the long term are slim. 

Consider:

  • writing down different topics you wish to discuss, 
  • imagining your target audience and their areas of interest,
  • blocking time to research specific ideas and take notes,
  • scheduling the release of each episode over a longer period,
  • setting milestones such as a 10-episode mark.

Step 4: Create Weekly/Daily Schedules

If you wish to increase your productivity and create an optimal daily routine for success, plan your week or your day in advance and dedicate a chunk of time to working on your dream. 

Many successful people follow a morning routine to move toward their long-term goals. Since it’s the first thing that happens during the day, there’s little room for obstacles and unforeseen circumstances to stand in your way. Your mind is fresh, the plan is set, and all you need to do is put it in motion.

Research shows how scheduling 90 minutes of uninterrupted time[5] works wonders for your productivity and efficiency.

Don’t try to multitask[6] or strain yourself – focus on one thing at a time, take breaks if needed, and respect your limits. 

Step 5: Adjust as you go

Even if you plan everything perfectly well and try to predict potential slip-ups, you cannot prevent the mess and chaos of life from happening occasionally. 

Perhaps the goal you set for yourself was too ambitious. 

Maybe the daily routine was unrealistic. 

Don’t try to fight against your reality – work with it instead. 

Your endeavor is supposed to give you satisfaction at the end of the day, not bring frustration or disappointment because you fall short of fulfilling unrealistic expectations. 

Having monthly reviews is a good way of ensuring you stay flexible, avoid burnout, and keep going!

Takeaway

My final message is that working on your long-term goals is no walk in the park. 

Yes, it’s challenging. 

Yes, it can be so difficult and painful. 

Yes, you might want to quit and give up at times. 

But choosing to stay loyal to yourself, overcome adversities, and become your own best friend in the process is far more gratifying than quitting because life got complicated. 

You can do it all, one day at a time!

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-discrepancy_theory
  2. https://onlinemba.wsu.edu/mba/resources/decision-fatigue
  3. https://www.eln.co.uk/blog/humanistic-theory-by-psychologist-carl-rogers
  4. https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/eisenhower-matrix
  5. https://psy.fsu.edu/faculty/ericssonk/ericsson.dp.php
  6. https://www.entrepreneur.com/leadership/tame-the-e-mail-beast/204980

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *