I was stuck in a routine last two weeks. Bad huh? No, the opposite. I like my routine. I own my routine, it doesn´t own me.
I created it the way I like it and filled it with things I want to do. It´s MY routine. The word “routine” is almost always associated with a negative meaning, involving boring hours at work, in front of the TV, couch potatoes and the like, but here´s the crude definition, without preconceptions: “A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed”. It´s down to us to make these actions the ones we enjoy, not loathe.
Is your routine YOURs, do you like it?
“It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.” –Adlai Stevenson
I like my routine, because:
- it´s mine. No one else has enforced it on me. I make it what I want
- I can change it anytime. I will change it, or, it will change itself overtime when I move to a new country, circumstances or discover something amazing that will rock my life.
- it´s a routine of things I enjoy doing and have consciously chosen to do, to make the most of my life
To give you a better picture of what I´m talking about, I´m going to describe a typical day of my last two weeks (as far as routines go, two weeks is long time whilst on the road!). This excercise, of writing down everything you do in a day actually really helps seeing the real picture of what fills your time. Try it :).
- 6:30 – 7:00 wake up naturally feeling fresh (to the noise of a street vendor shouting the latest news, and another selling “helado, tengo banana y moraaaaa!”). Wash, brush teeth and all the morning pleasantries, in a shared bathroom, sometimes with just cold water, for the additional kick up the ass in the morning
- 7:15 do exercise – 150 press ups, ashtanga yoga, some weights (available on the roof of the best hostel in Quito – Hostal Sucre)
- 8:00 breakfast, some kind of smoothie with oats, or wholemeal bread with salad
- 8:30 turn laptop on, stock market opens, check positions, news, do research, trade
- 10:00 listen to some good music, read some articles from fellow bloggers, or ebooks mostly about personal improvement, read emails, check facebook
- 11:00 skype with a friend or family, have a snack
- 12:00 check shares trading & order status
- 13:00 go out for a walk in the park, shopping, randomly walk through the town and smile at people, or work on any challenges I set myself
- 15:00 cook lunch
- 16:00 eat, read a book or just chat with other folks in the place, of course, just in spanish
- 17:00 write / edit / finish / draft a post for this blog
- 18:00 research other income sources, or work on my other projects, like my latest blog about Eco-construction in Slovak, my holiday home rental in Slovakia´s mountains or looking for interesting content for my VeganSlovakia Facebook page.
- 19:00 meet with people, go out for a drink or salsa class, or to a restaurant
- 23:00 get back, read a book or fall asleep watching a movie
As you can see, it´s not filled with things that people usually do on a holiday, that´s because this isn´t a holiday, but my life. But it´s filled with things that I chose to do and enjoy doing. Of course, occasionally I´ll throw in something more exciting, change the country, climb a volcano or go diving, but this is an example of a routine.
There´s a lot written about avoiding routine in your life, but I would take it a step further and say: only avoid a routine that you haven´t chosen for your enjoyment. Or as Niall Doherty put it:
“Whatever we spend time practicing, we inevitably get better at, we inevitably get comfortable with.
But this can be dangerous. Because many of us spend time practicing things we’d rather not get better at or comfortable with.” —Niall Doherty
There´s a lot of routines that we choose to enjoy ourselves, that enhance the person we are:
- going to classes regularly (sports, gym, yoga, dance)
- reading regularly
- meeting up with friends every weekend
- doing work we enjoy
- cook a healthy meal every day
I wouldn´t try to avoid these. They are enriching our lives, we have chosen them, let us have them. They are our enjoyable routines that keep us sane.
What you should think about avoiding is routines that have been imposed onto you by the society, by your upbringing, by your environment or peers – ones you haven´t consciously chosen, that dull the person we are:
- working in an unfulfilling job
- getting married, because it´s expected of you
- going to the church, because that´s what you were taught to do
- watching the same series over and over on the TV, or watching a lot of bad news
- buying lots of shit you don´t need, to fill a gap that´s in your life (but somehow, it still doesn´t work…)
- eat junk food
Yes, you should scrap all of the unfulfilling routines in the second list, if you can. (unless you enjoy some of them…then keep ´em!). Of course, not everyone can just drop everything, but what you can do, is write down your average daily routine like I did above and think about what type of routines is your life filled with.
Did you choose them for your enjoyment?
Or were they chosen for you, or you just grew into them, not even realizing it?
Then take action. Replace some of the unfulfilling ones, with your enjoyable ones. Then replace some more. One day, you might end up solely doing things you enjoy, nothing else.
Wouldn´t that be a nice day :).
Ok, time to take my routine to a new country. At the time this publishes, I´m in Peru, because, as a traveller, once you see the same street vendor enough times for him to remember you and say hello, it´s time to move!
Have an opinion or a different approach that works to turn your life around? I´d love to read more in the comments section below.