Consistency, Rhythm, Routine… why do they tend to feel like a mirage in the desert?
Do the following thoughts sound familiar? If not, GREAT, but odds are, we’ve each felt like this at some point.
[Well, next month, once the car is paid off and I finish creating that website and that long work project is over, then I’ll get in rhythm.]
What ensues is typically a series of bad decisions, mostly, because we excuse our bad habits and postpone fixing them until our routine starts. IT’S A CRUTCH. We relax on our diet or fitness goals. We stay up too late worrying about staying up too late, being tired, and further limiting our progress toward our desired routine.
We tend away from resolute optimism with our peers. This one can have bad long-term effects.
[Sorry I was an asshole, I just have a lot going on right now.]
Ouch. That’s never an accepted excuse, and we know that. Routine, or lack there of, can dictate our personal productivity levels, but it should NEVER affect our attitude with others. Ruining relationships and community impressions can take years to recover from.
[If I could just get in routine, everything would be better.]
We definitely need to design that routine, but having it in place is not the solution to our problems.
You can be consistently in routine, then be blind to opportunity, blind to growth, OR WORST OF ALL, caught off guard and unable to deal with adversity. (I’ll tell you a story about that at the end.)
Why do we want to be in rhythm?
- Chaos can be overwhelming.
- Inconsistency, if handled improperly, is a tremendous cause of stress.
- It feels like a routine is the answer because…
WE ARE ALWAYS OUT OF ROUTINE!
The Perfect Routine is quite literally the greener grass on the other side. It’s misleading.
Our routine has to evolve and improve over time.
It’s a blueprint to follow, but not a set of commandments. If we feel like we’re eternally damned for not following routine (which is common), then no routine is going to work in our favor anyway. It has to be firm enough, but also adaptable and flexible, because our lives demand that. Too rigid, and a routine can be harmful.
[Gosh, my wife needed me to pick up eggs from the store for her because she forgot them yesterday, and now I can’t make it to the gym like I do each morning, so I didn’t get my blood flowing, and thus my productivity will go down and my boss is going to be upset with me and if he’s upset with me then I won’t get the promotion I need to buy the condo I’ve been saving for…(and so on)]
Someone with adaptation skills would pause, (maybe do some breathing or meditation if they’re willing to) and realize that even though it’s not specifically written into their routine, they can still sneak small workouts in throughout the day and get close to the desired effects. Bending without breaking. It’ll be ok. Take the blow, then course correct.
4 mind-states pertaining to ROUTINE:
- In desired routine ALWAYS – Same thing every day. Routine hasn’t been broken in months. One slip up, and the day/week is ruined.
- Never in desired routine – floundering, making excuses, perpetual decline. Typically ends in a mental breakdown (sometimes necessary to reset perspective).
- What should my routine be? – Not a bad place to be in, if you can understand that it takes time to develop, but definitely not where you want to stay for long. It can turn into #2 very quickly.
- Tailor the day – THIS IS THE ONE! Once you have a general outline of what you think the most effective routine is, then it just becomes a series of daily choices.
Why is #4, which actually denounces a specific routine, the best mind-state to be in?
It’s fluid and multi-faceted. We can handle issues without breaking stride.
Plan for the best, expect to have to adjust, and stay as close to the desired course as possible. Bending without breaking.
I was recently speaking to a gentleman over dinner at a Yacht Club in LA, and he was telling me a story about how he took 2nd place in a boat race. The 1st place crew won a million dollars. They had a 30 mile lead and were essentially already spending the winnings in celebration. On the last night of the race, whomever was in charge of navigating the ship while the crew slept, also slept. For 6 hours, the boat strayed from the line (the routine) without ever correcting course. When the crew woke, they were 20 miles behind the other ship, and were physically unable to catch up. The only choice they had was to coast into port behind the winning boat.
They had a great routine, and had great success because of it, but they faltered without the ability to course correct. That can happen if we’re too rigid on the routine, and have no focus or awareness leftover for the possible pitfalls. The navigator that night was so tired that he slept through the whole shift. Had he woken up even halfway through, they likely could’ve adjusted and still taken home the $1,000,000.
I’m not sure if they threw the sleeping crew member overboard or not.
In summary, once we’ve designed our routine, STUDY IT, KNOW IT BY HEART, and then SET IT TO THE SIDE (revisit every few weeks to adjust/improve).
We can never let ourselves lose a 30 mile lead from long lapses of focus, but we also can’t afford to be so overwhelmed by creating the perfect routine that we are paralyzed by our inability to keep it.