The same thing happens day in and day out. You awake at the same time every day, perform the same morning ritual, take the same route to work, work on the same projects, and have the same evening activities waiting for you when you get home. Boring!
There is both good and bad in routines. On one hand, a morning routine, in particular, helps us stay on track and keeps us focused on the first part of the day. We as humans find comfort in knowing exactly what we will be doing at any given time. Uncertainty is not our friend (more on this in another post). And it is true that routines can help us all be a little more productive, right? On the other hand, when unforeseen circumstances throw our beloved morning routine out of whack, we have an urgent need to fix the problem. We’re not agile and oft find ourselves having more difficulty in dealing with these small changes. What do you mean I overslept. Now my entire morning is thrown off and my day will be bad. See what I mean?
Although habits that lead us towards long-term objectives are rewarding and beneficial, all too often we find ourselves partaking in our routines simply out of habit and not out of gain. Avoiding new situations can hold us back.
If you find that your routines have started to lose their luster, or let’s be honest, have lost their luster years ago, it’s time to do something different. Why? Because any routine you have that creates additional stress, unnecessary pressure or has just become stale and unfathomably boring, is not doing you any favors.
Never underestimate the power of small changes. Hence, the term: shake-up.
So now the question becomes, how do I shake up my routine? Good news: it is not necessary to completely change everything you have done up until this point. In fact, having routines in place is very strategic and helpful to reach goals. For example, if you want to become less stressed and made a promise to yourself to meditate daily, then by all means, keep that routine. It is only necessary to make small and subtle changes and tiny shifts in your current perspective and mindset. If you have been meditating for 10 minutes right when you get out of bed, try brewing your cup of coffee first and sitting by a window instead of your usual spot besides your bed.
Try to remember why these routines or habits started.
Do you remember why you wanted to start waking up at 5AM? Or why you chose to dedicate 2 hours each weekend to practicing your instrument? Try this: get a piece of paper and pen. Write out all of your current routines or habits – yes all of them. Next to this, write out your “why” The purpose: You may find that some or even many of your current routines are stale and boring simply because they no longer serve your key values or goals in life. And that’s ok! We are human. We change our paths constantly and we want different things for ourselves. It’s part of growing (and no, we never stop growing). This exercise may help you realize that not only do you need to shake up your routine but maybe it’s time to retire some current ones completely.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and maybe start from scratch.
Just as we are constantly evolving, who we may have been 5 years ago may be different to who we are today – in terms of our preferences and at the very least, our situations. So while you may have previously been a morning person, maybe now your schedule works in favor of you sleeping in, so in fact, there is no need to force your routine of 5 AM when you can adjust and stay up an hour or two later and try that on for size. Or vice-versa. If you eat the same thing for lunch every day, you could either make a small change and tweak some ingredients or condiments for that lunch, or get really crazy and do something completely different for lunch every day. Watch out world! Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to keep it manageable for you. There is no benefit or point really, in changing something so drastically that trying to manage this new routine is actually more stressful than the boring, old, stale one you had. Beware of decision-fatigue! Don’t make it harder on yourself.
Have you analyzed your current routines? Did you check to make sure they still serve a greater purpose or help propel you to a specific goal of yours? Great – you’re on the right track! What’s left is just thinking through your current situation and finding where you can be a little more flexible or creative in your approach to these routines. You may find that you just need a small, subtle change in order to fall in love with your routine again. Or you may find that you need to abandon all hope, say goodbye to a routine and completely re-invent it. That’s ok, too. Sometimes when we do that, we come back to our original routine with a fresh perspective and appreciation. And sometimes, we find something entirely new that ignites a new fiery passion within us that keeps us going.
And when you find that it’s not working again, keep tweaking. This is the beauty of our lives. We are not meant for static, stale lives. Yes, we are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean the habits have to be boring.