Monday, February 6, 2017

Why We Fall out of Routines and How to End the Vicious Cycle

I love watching Morning Routine videos on Youtube.  The other day I stumbled on a video that sparked a little self-reflection.  At the start of the video, the Youtuber proclaimed that she recently started her routine again.  She goes on to say "I'm back to into my routine and it feels so good.  I just fee like my week just flows better when I'm in a nice routine. It just really makes things a lot easier throughout the week."

My first thought was "me too!"  Whenever I follow a certain routine, things go incredibly well.  But, for some reason, I can't get these routines to stick.  Why?

In order to answer that question, I had to dig deep.

There have been times when I religiously followed a daily routine.  I'd wake up meditate, pray, workout, plan then work with focused attention.  Soon the benefits started to compound and I saw phenomenal results.  I relished in how amazing I felt.  Life was good.

But, some time later, I found myself dealing with the aftermath of falling away from my daily routine.

Why does this keep happening?

Part of me thinks that I appreciate the process "fixing what's broken" more than maintaining what's working.  There's a sense of accomplishment that comes with overcoming resistance and building new habits.  You feel an initial jolt of exhilaration.  You notice the efforts of your hard working starting to sprout.  It's a wonderful feeling.

But then that feeling becomes the new normal.  It's not as exciting as it once was.    We experience the benefits but we forget the source of those benefits.  We actually convince ourselves that things will remain the same even if we slack a little.  We've forgotten about the work we put in to get to this outcome.  We assume that we're entitled to the results even without nurturing the foundational actions that created it.

Another huge mistake that I tend to make is craving variety over routine.  Don't get me wrong, variety is great.  But I have to realize where it makes sense to change things up and when to stay on course.  There should be some non-negotiables when it comes to a morning routine.  Especially one that's working.  If it creates ideal outcomes then it needs to become a fixed a part of my life. Because without the morning ritual, there are consequences that directly affect my day.  

Maintaining a morning self-care ritual ensures that you have power over your day.  One area where I slip up is not focusing enough on the benefits of repeating an action day after day.  I see it as a chore and nothing else.  That way of thinking is flawed and only leads to regrets.

Lastly, it's important to realize the falling away from your routines is completely normal.  Maybe even expected.  The way to end the cycle is realizing that there may be no end to the cycle.

Once you've moved away from your routine, all you have to do is course correct.

 If you're driving around and you notice that you're veering off to one side, do you get mad at yourself? Do you pull over and put the car into park?  Do you allow yourself to veer completely off the road? No, you simply get back on track.  That's exactly what we need to do with our routines.  Even if you follow a routine your routine only 50% of the time, that's 26 weeks of incorporating beneficial actions into your life.  Any number is better than zero so, please keep getting back on track.  Each time you do, you'll notice how good you instantly feel again.
  1. This is such a timely and amazing article. Thanks so much for sharing!

    I'm currently in a phase of deciding on actions that I can incorporate into my morning routine in order to "feel good". I think feeling good plays a huge role in how often you want to do something rather than implementing a bunch of actions that really have no positive effect on your emotions.

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  2. This was really good. Thanks.

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  3. Great post! I completely relate to this as I get bored so easily... The analogy and encouragement at the end is very touching. Thank you so much!

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