5 — Set exciting goals, even if unrealistic or unnecessary.
Thinking about leaving a routine to start it later is always a dangerous idea, and you should avoid it at all costs. Many times, even skipping once becomes painful and frustrating, so imagine taking a complete break for the holidays.
But vacation makes routines impossible sometimes, especially when you travel somewhere and you stop living in the comfort of your home. So you need to have a plan that allows you to rebuild habits from where you left them, or at least try to.
How to rebuild habits after holidays.
Last year, it took me almost two months to rebuild a habit. At first, I was procrastinating on the restarting date — I wanted to get more holidays, so I skipped until mid to late January. And even when I finally restored my old habits, I couldn’t remain consistent.
Before the holidays, I ran three days a week without feeling tired. But in February, I could replicate my old form only in the first week. Although I was sparkling with energy, my motivation abandoned me, so I had to restart from scratch.
My writing also suffered. Before holidays, I was writing at least one hour each day. But after five weeks of hesitations, I couldn’t even focus for half an hour.
This summer, however, I went on vacation for two weeks. But this time, I was prepared. I used my previous experience to build a system that helps me to keep my routines alive. So here are the 5 quick hacks I used to rebuild habits after holidays.
1 — Reduce to the minimum without eliminating.
Complete relaxation is what every one of us seeks when on holiday or vacation. Abandoning a routine, however, gives our brain the time and space to acquire new habits, sometimes harmful.
For example, even if you care about your diet, you may eat unhealthy food and skip workout sessions. Or, if you are a content creator, you may binge-watch TV series instead of following your creative schedule.
Therefore, the best solution is to reduce routine intensities and occurrences instead of eliminating them. So you can minimize the tendency to build bad habits while also restoring the old ones with more ease.
The revitalization process is usually painful, especially when unfitting patterns grow without a standard. But if your brain never took a break from what you considered the absolute minimum, it will be harder for bad habits to sneak into your routines.
So the first hack to rebuild habits after holidays is to never abandon them in the first place, or at least not entirely. Keep that small 10% alive, and the restoration process will be quicker.
2 — Keep a benefits/drawbacks diary.
Reality kicks are another quick hack to rebuild habits after holidays.
If you drop your routines without noticing any negative differences, you won’t be motivated to bring back those habits. But if you take a few minutes to write a little diary with the benefits and drawbacks of every change you make for holidays, it will be easier to realize what you are giving up and if you gained something back.
A benefit and drawback diary has another advantage too — it can make you discover new healthy routines.
During holidays, we are more open to new experiences. We try unusual activities we have never done before, and they might be better than what we are used to. But without a benefit/drawback diary, we can’t know if those activities improved our life substantially or not.
Therefore, each holiday evening, take some time to analyze if you are missing your routines or the improvement they brought to your life. And if the drawbacks of your old habits outclass the benefits, you better drop them.
3 — Don’t expect to restart from where you left.
A severe misconception about restarting old habits is that you have to reach your past form as soon as possible. So people take an aggressive approach trying to do too many things at once. But overstuffing your days with tasks is both dangerous and unhelpful.
Although obsessing over a new routine is normal, exaggeration makes you neglect other helpful activities. So instead of improving your life, you risk damaging what is already working.
Also, an aggressive approach can stress your body too much, and you may develop resistance towards it. Your brain will trigger an enhanced need for procrastination each time you approach the routine, and it will be even harder to overcome it.
For these reasons, never expect to restart a routine from where you left. Give yourself the time and space to transition into the new normality, and you will get used to it sooner than you realize.
4 — Set a restarting date before ending your routine.
Whether you decide to abandon your routine for a while or reduce it to the minimum, set a restarting date right from the beginning. Boundaries help you enter the correct mindset days before the holidays have finished, so once the fateful day comes, you will feel little to no pain adopting your old patterns.
When it comes to habits, preparation is the key to success. Therefore, if you want to prepare for sliding into your routine again, you need to schedule a restarting date, or you may underestimate its weight and stop caring about it. If that happens, your first interaction becomes a painful experience instead of a nostalgic appointment, and you could abandon your pledge.
Yet with a restarting date, you treat your routine with the same respect as when you started. The excitement of the first iteration will mix with the improvement expectations you already experienced. And it will be easier not to drop out and get used to the routine once more.
5 — Set exciting goals, even if unrealistic or unnecessary.
One last hack that will help you rebuild your habits after the holidays is to set exciting goals, even if unrealistic or unnecessary.
Dropping dreams and following realistic results can help you track your routine and make correct forecasts about the future. But when your brain is stagnant because of the holidays, there is little to no motivation to work, so exciting goals can encourage you to start as soon as possible.
Perhaps you can increase your short-term goals with higher results and try to reach them sooner or boost your long-term goals so you can resize later on. But it is crucial to remember to adjust them after a while, or you will be trying to reach something you knew to be unattainable from the start.
Holidays are fun. They reunite families, boost our happiness and make us forget about diets eating 24/7 until their end. But when we finally decide to get back on track and focus on our old habits, everything is lost, and we need to start over.
However, during my last holidays, I studied 5 quick hacks to rebuild habits after holidays and reach even more success.
First, if possible, reduce the habit to the minimum without ever abandoning it, and it will be easier to restart.
Second, keep a benefit/drawbacks diary to realize what advantages your routine brought to your life.
Third, don’t expect to restart from where you left. You have to treat your routine as something new and allow your body to familiarize yourself with it.
Fourth, set a restarting date for your routine, so you put a clear end to holidays procrastination and prepare to return to normality.
And fifth, set exciting goals. In the beginning, you need a boost of motivation to transition from holiday to reality faster, so help yourself with stimulating anticipations.
These are the 5 quick hacks you can exploit to rebuild habits after the holidays.
Do you want to improve motivation and productivity?
Subscribe to The Challenge to receive your FREE dose of printable infographics each month, so you can better track your progress right now!
Click the button below! It’s free.
If you want to support me in other ways, you can subscribe to Medium through my referral link, or follow my Substack newsletter.
Cover photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels.