I have always had a bit of a knee-jerk negative reaction to the concept of routine. The lack of variety of routine always struck me as boring or lacking imagination. Routine meant that you were missing out on new and interesting opportunities and different ways of doing things. Looking at the synonyms for routine, monotonous and usual are certainly consistent with the dull view of routine. However, routine needn’t be tedious and dreary. If you don’t accept routine as something to do mindlessly on autopilot to just get through the day but instead as a way to get the most out of your day, routine can be extremely beneficial.
Here’s a way to look at routine that might get you actually excited and interested. I have always loved learning a dance routine. Through repetition and practice, the steps to the dance get easier and more connected and flowing. Learning the steps in the routine takes concentration and yet once memorized, they become routine and there is a joyous feeling to doing the dance. The decision to do the routine is completely conscious and for a purpose. Although there is an automatic aspect of the dance once it is completely incorporated into your body, that level of ease of it being routine allows you to dig deeper into the moves and get more out of it.
You might not be a dancer, however that approach of creating a routine can be applied to so many things in your life. The first step is to consciously decide what actions or activities would serve you best if they were practiced over and over and scheduled into your life. The usual suspect for routine is getting daily exercise. Sure, getting into an exercise routine is absolutely a wonderful way to ensure that you are moving regularly. Yet routine can be used for so much more. What activities would you like to make a part of your everyday that would bring you greater you name it: joy, strength, calm, happiness, playfulness, community, or connection… Finding routines that incorporate actions and activities to bring greater fullness and complexity to your day is a great way to build a joyful life and is anything but dull.
Here are some ideas. On a daily basis, how about creating some routines for your body and soul? Daily meditation, walks, dancing, reading, bubble baths are all wonderful activities. A great way to create a routine around these things is to build a schedule where you string a few together and do them at the same time each day. For instance, I have been enjoying doing some cardio exercise followed by yoga followed by meditation in the morning. They flow nicely together and I enjoy that the routine combines movement and stillness. How about creating a routine around your work? Maybe that looks like getting a cup of coffee and planning your day or writing for a half hour before you check your emails and respond to outside requests. And dining routines can be very helpful whether you are busy and want an easier way to get dinner on the table, or if you are working on developing a new pattern of eating.
Routines can most definitely be created with other people too. How about creating a routine with someone you love to meet on a regular basis for an activity that is fun? Many people have weekly bowling nights or monthly book clubs or regular events of all sorts. Creating a routine with a friend or loved one is a way to guarantee that you will get together regularly. And getting into the habit of doing more of what you want in your life is the path to a fuller and more satisfying life.