The power of Routine
Routine by definition is a sequence of actions regularly followed. The deeper dive into what a routine is, is made up of behaviours and habits we have created over an extended period of time. In order to formulate a new routine we may need to have a look into what behaviours and habits already exist that may either support or destroy the new routine we wish to act out.
Many fall into the trap of finding a routine to be restrictive with no flexibility that renders us paralyzed in getting work done. The gift of routine however, is to bring about self-trust and work in a space of facing those harder tasks that pay off over time (yup, no quick fixes I’m afraid).
In order to understand that both doubt and trust are in constant battle within routines, I shall share a story about “The Two Wolves- A Cherokee Story” – https://theacademy.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/two-wolves-cherokee-story.pdf
The thought experiment
For this exercise lets start with the simple idea/goal of losing weight, keeping in mind that we have traveled this road before and are now willing to give it another run.
- One, we know starting out at a gym would be ideal and increase our motivation to achieve this goal.
- Two, eating healthier meals will support the long term effect of correcting our weight.
- Three, movement of the body will also assist in the mental focus for work and the day to day running in general.
These all look rather attainable at a glance with no reason to doubt the process of achieving such goals. Now let’s break down what behaviours and habits would be needed in order to hit the targets:
- Sign up at a gym (preferably close by as travel time would need to be taken into account)
- Meal planning that will add to increased energy.
- Scheduling time in the dairy or alarms on the phone to ensure we follow through.
Here it starts to get more tricky as with any goal, there will need to be smaller steps to achieving a desired outcome. So we take it a step further:
- Sign up at a gym for R299 per month within 5km from home taking about 10 minutes.
- Researched a cookie cutter meal plan and bought all the healthy items the list required (eg. R1500 for one week)
- Alarms set for 4am each morning with all intention to be at gym by 4:30am every day.
Now we have the commitment and plan in place we start the week off with all guns blazing on a Monday morning 4am. For the first 3 to 4 days we have the drive of an unstoppable beast, going to gym for 1 full hour, preparing the meals for the day and feeling on top of the world as our focus at work is at an all-time high. Sliding into the 5th day the motivation starts evaporating, becoming fully aware of the strained muscles and the temptation to hit the snooze button, the amount of time it takes to prepare the meals and the focus we once had at work is now evolving into frustration.
As the week progresses, we find ourselves snoozing all the alarms agreeing that tomorrow is another day and our body needs the rest. The meals we had planned for are no longer looking appetizing and so we start to blame the “unhealthy” version of ourselves being the one to drag us to the closest McDonalds. Work has now taken full priority of our time and we finding ourselves more overloaded than before as deadlines approach, so social life and spending time with those we value is left in the destruction bin. Alas the cycle we have become all to familiar with has started, the repeat button is now in action.
Here we hit the wall of doubt. Forgetting WHY we truly wanted to start and so begins the war of Doubt and Trust.
Let’s take an inventory list of where things may have come undone to get a clearer view of how this war can play out in just about any aspect of our lives.
Having a birds eye view of how we ended up at the same result a few pieces are evident where we can further look into the spaces where the routine started to create trust and how the ease of doubt could simply stop us in our tracks.
Points of self-trust:
- We decided to start again.
- There was a plan in place that had some action.
- Committed to waking up at 4am each morning.
- Preparing healthier meals each day, following a meal plan.
Points of doubt:
- Motivation to continue going slowly ending and the resentment to investing in a gym contract yet again.
- The amount of time to prepare a meal wasn’t a factor, so fast food looked like the next best option.
- Snoozing alarms and winning the battle of the mind by promising tomorrow.
- Work becoming the main focus without clarity of mind that the physical exercise offered.
A healthier Routine
In setting out a healthier routine that offers flexibility, there needs to be an understanding that we constantly are moving through both good and bad points in one whole 24 hour cycle.
Going back to the wolves, the wolf of doubt is fed more frequently when we don’t follow through with the plans and the commitments we agreed to. On the other hand we feed the wolf of trust by following through no matter how small or large the action may be. The choice of which wolf gets fed is entirely the choice we make.
The question now, is what does a healthier routine look and feel like that may better support in reaching the goal of losing weight?
Let’s take a moment to understand what the not-so-great days may consist of:
- Unmotivated to do simple tasks.
- Overwhelmed by the workload that has been added to the list of tasks.
- Increased procrastination to avoid the stress that would come with doing the work.
- Craving more time in the day to complete the larger tasks.
- Frustrated with others’ opinions.
- Easily distracted by other people’s emergencies and drama.
- Unable to say “NO”.
- Struggle to get out of bed and constantly tired.
Now that we understand the bad days, what would a good day look like:
- Plan of action for the day laid out in smaller tasks (ie. Effective diary planning)
- 5–10-minute check-in with personal emotions, be that a journal entry or simply a contemplation moment in the morning sun with a fresh cup of coffee/tea.
- 5–10-minute workout routine while the water boils or before a toilet break, the options are endless.
- Planned time for meetings and personal events.
- Sticking to the 5 second rule.
- Taking responsibility for following through on self-created promises.
The reality of 24 hours is it will continue, regardless of you moving toward a goal or staying stagnant. Here is the best part, when you are able to notice a repeated pattern the greatest gift you would be able to offer yourself is choosing a new path. The chapter of your life you are in right now is not the last and it is time to turn the page to see what new adventures are on offer.
I will be hosting an introduction to Time Mastery which you will be able to sign up for on www.archerinspirations.com. The only payment is your time and attendance.