Toward the end of last year, I received the same advice (inspired message) from various sources, so I decided to take note. Sometimes, when the Universe is trying to tell you something and you aren’t hearing it, it wisely makes the decision to be repetitive until you take note.
Such was the case for me throughout much of November and December. What was the message?
I needed to create routine in my life in order to be more in the flow, to be more inspired, and to accomplish all I have set out to do. And yet… routine? Really?
Previously I had subscribed to Paulo Coelho’s statement on routine:
“ If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.”
And yet… here was this repeated message, being shared with me from various trusted sources (think: colleagues, friends, mentors, doctors). There was truth in what they were saying, and I knew it. Routine, for me, wouldn’t be lethal, but the lack of routine certainly was proving otherwise.
It was lethal to my productivity, my ideas, my stability, and hence my innovation and creativity. A lack of routine made it harder for me to achieve my personal wellness goals as well.
So, as the new year approached, I muddled through the holidays trying to establish the baby steps of a routine. After about 2-3 weeks of trying and not exactly succeeding, I took stock. What was I missing? That’s when it occurred to me:
I had never been taught how to design, create, and establish a routine.
Now, for those of you who seem to know how to do this, this may seem like a weird conundrum, but it’s true. Not knowing the basics of establishing routines makes it actually quite difficult to get started.
Of course, the Type A side of me had an internal dialogue akin to the Nike slogan “Just do it,” but that wasn’t enough. My reply, invariably went something like this:
Honestly, if you think I could “just do it,” don’t you think I would have DONE it, by now?
So, I had to start from scratch through trial and error.
As it turns out, and as I’m learning (it’s an ongoing process), it’s really hard to establish a routine if you’re not actually invested in the reasons why or the activities themselves.
I can look back on decades of schooling and say with 100% certainty that if I wasn’t interested in the topic, it was like pulling taffy to get me to do any work (I did the minimum). This is how I am. I know it, I work with it, and I embrace it. Because the reverse is also true: When I’m invested in something, you can be sure I will be all in. I just needed to find the right reason.
So, how do I get invested in something that I don’t fully understand, that I was never taught how to do, and that felt daunting and overwhelming from the word “go?”
I want to say: “Here’s how! Here’s the magic answer. Now, go forth and change your lives with this magic wand I created and/or stumbled upon.”
But it’s simply not the truth.
The truth is, I don’t have the answer. However, I do know what not to do, and that’s actually proving to be more than enough.
I know not to use the four diversionary tools I mentioned in my book to rationalize, justify, generalize, or explain/judge my way into excuses. I know that if I’m making excuses to NOT engage in a new behavior (one that I actually want to do), it’s because I believe (wrongly) that I’m more comfortable in my current state than I will be if I try to do something else. And that’s the basis of all change, isn’t it?
The argument between the seeming comfort of the status quo and the unknown discomfort of doing something different often creates a cycle of inactivity. The problem is, both are subjective and unknown. And when something is unknown it often leads to feelings of fear. And fear, I know for certain, is NOT how I choose to live my life, nor is it an energy with which I wish to align. Boom! I had my reason.
Just as I teach my clients, when you drill down past the surface level of any problem, you can usually arrive at a baseline of energy or emotion. Typically, the choice is fear or hope (many say love, but at that deep baseline, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s actually hope). When we get down to that level, to the underlying energy behind our choices, we get to decide which energy is in alignment with who we are and our values. And, as it turns out, that awareness is often enough to propel ourselves forward into the unknown. In my case that meant doing something I was never taught, didn’t understand the value of, and had no investment in… until I did.