The Routine

Clearly my routine has been shattered in the last few months. Perhaps almost as clearly, we know that routines are good for us as they are for everyone. It is my routine that adds a reliable sense of stability to my life, gives me something to count on each day and each week. In that way it provides a baseline measurement for me against which I can gauge myself. My routine is an important and necessary component of my own self-awareness.

That does not mean I live without surprises or spontaneity. It simply means that there are certain things I need to happen in a fairly predictable and regular pattern. I feel that might be the same for a lot of us, and given the last two discussion topics (here and here), it may be worthwhile to discuss those positive routine-oriented things that help us along on a day-to-day basis…whether they be as simple and mundane as waking up at the same time each day, indulging in some morning coffee ritual, regularly exercising, or something far more elaborate.

So, what’s your routine? To what extent do you think deviating from that routine may bring about triggers? How proactive are you in maintaining your routine, or how flexible are you able to be with it?

Lastly, I offer the all-important loaded questions: Do you feel limited by your routine? Do you ever wonder if the perceived need for reliable stability may be hiding new options and alternatives?

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5 comments
  1. said:

    Let’s be honest. Clearly, this topic is posted because it’s something that’s been crazily on my mind lately. From my blog (http://backwarde.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/two-steps-forward-hopefully/), after two months of constant travel:

    “I left nervous about the seemingly millions of tiny and not-so-tiny triggers waiting behind every corner when my routine is taken from me, when I cross multiple time zones, when my sleep is disturbed, when I’m not sure what day it is, when I can’t keep track of really how many hours have actually passed since I last took my meds, when my cat is not around to keep me company, when I don’t really know the language and feel that sort of vulnerability that comes with a challenge to my communicative efficacy, when my primary support system is geographically very very far away, when I feel removed from all the things from which I typically fight tooth and nail to prevent disconnection. I’ve been so tied to my routine in the last few months that I was terrified to leave it. I assumed the worst. I listed the possible consequences and prepared for how I might handle those.

    I did not adequately prepare for the unintended and unforeseen consequences that befell me. I had truly assumed the worst. I had assumed that my precious routine was good for me. I had assumed that leaving it for a while would be bad for me. I was wrong on both counts. Eight months ago I began an odyssey, but hadn’t considered where I would go on that journey. Here I am, after two months of constant travel, grateful for the perspective that comes with critical distance. In the short spurts I’ve spent at home, I’ve learned what about my routine is holding me back, keeping me from fulfillment, allowing me to sacrifice the self-sufficiency and responsible volition I need to truly function in this world. I left and found me. I returned and made changes.”

  2. Jen said:

    The routine gives me comfort. With my Mom, who has early onset dementia, prior to her getting really bad, her routine was everything. Any little change made her upset.

    I can deal with my change of routine. In fact, it probably helps me more then not. I live alone so when I wake up, go to work, come home, etc, the aloneness of it all bothers me. (I work with 1 other person). When I break that routine and get out, I feel as a whole better and have less triggers.

  3. bwoz said:

    I lost my job clear back in February. It’s so difficult just to stay on track of getting up in the morning around the same time what with not having anything to get up for. There are other routines I’ve incorporated into my days that are more second-nature though. For instance, I started blogging again, which I always try to do at the same time every day. I am now pretty inflexible about blogging every day, but I do allow myself to start pretty much any time during the day the urge strikes me and I generally don’t feel too thrown off. I don’t feel limited by routines at all. I feel stronger and more in control when I have a manageable number of routines and can keep them for the most part. I read somewhere that it’s much easier to start a new habit than to break one that’s already been engrained. Now to summon the energy to get out of bed before 10…

    • said:

      Hi bwoz!

      Honestly, I work mostly as a consultant so don’t have a “Work-Routine” to speak of…and I get around the whole “I feel like I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing right now” thing by making a completely neurotic to-do list everyday. Keeps me sane(ish), I guess.

      • Brandon said:

        Good advice. I think my to-do list could use some beefing up again.

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