Doing the Same Things Over and Over Again Can Be…Wonderful
Want to supercharge your life? Build in some excitement? How about creating some routine tracks and returning to them often? Maybe even daily.
I love a free life. I consider myself the author of my days and value the flex in my schedule because I work for myself. But I’ve been thinking about the place of automatic in a life lived with purpose.
I learned about this from productive and contented people I know. One is a student; another, a coach; another, a knitter. Each uses “automatic” in intriguing ways.
Students need to adapt to changes in class schedules every semester. But the young man I’m thinking about arranges his schedule to have morning classes. It is his best time, and so he makes every effort to make that happen. He also hates to sit and memorize facts. So when a class demands memorization he makes cards with the facts on them and zones out in the cafeteria line to learn them. He sometimes endures ribbing from his friends, but it comes as no surprise that he does well academically.
The coach works with several clients each morning and writes articles in the afternoon–right after her automatic mid-day workout. She eats from one of three breakfast selections every day and her lunch is pretty routine too. Not surprisingly, she has no weight issues and makes a good income. She will tell you, “I love what I do–I like to help people.”
As for my knitting friend, she works at home. She is often called to conference calls where her brain is required, but not her eyes. Her creative passion is knitting. She keeps yarn handy and when a call begins, her needles click—after she presses the mute button.
Our best routines about can be tricky to figure out. We need to know ourselves, and what we care about. And we need to think hard about our committed actions, habits—aka the tracks we need to lay down– to do what we think we want. Those details can be revealing. Consider wanting to be a doctor but not being able to stand the sight of blood; wanting to own a restaurant, but hoping to work 9-5 hours; or wishing to be an entrepreneur, while being intolerant of taking financial risks. Looking at the day-to-day routines in each career path can help us make more realistic decisions about what to pursue.
And if we reverse this idea and look first at routines we like, but maybe don’t do so often, we might discover our next adventure. Ever attended a theatrical performance and asked, “Why don’t I do this more often? I love live theatre.” Why not commit to season tickets to create a more reliable path to getting there often? Or if you are that theatre lover, maybe the administrative work you like to do ought to be pitched to a stage company instead of an insurance company.
Here are some questions about the tracks that define our days, and in the long run, our very lives.
- What practices do I engage in “automatically?”
- How do these habits serve me (and my values)?
- What are the routines I can’t afford to skip? (For example, regular healthy exams; some kind of physical activity; showing up for the people we love; balancing my checkbook.)
- Are any of my habits “ruts” that leave me feeling stuck?
- Which routine practices nurture and/or excite me–mean something to me?
- What could I do more routinely to deepen my satisfaction with my work and personal life?