We all know that familiar sound… It’s your alarm.
The same cringeworthy alarm tone that we have grown to hate as it snaps you out of a deep sleep. No time for snoozing- we drag ourselves up, blurry eyed and put both feet to the cold floorboards. Some of us zombie walk to a hot shower, others flick the life giving switch of the kettle or Nespresso machine. Time to fire up the morning show, smash a quick breakfast, kiss the kids goodbye and start the morning commute.
For many of us, this resembles the morning ritual- give or take a flip through the newspaper or a run in the park. It’s the same old routine that drives your spouse mad and leads us to occasionally question if we have it all wrong. Are we just operating like robots, day in, day out, waiting for that increasingly short weekend or a couple of weeks annual leave when the sacrifice is “all worth it?” We’ve all been there and our routine, especially the wrong routine, can over time drag us into a depressing monotony. However, with some careful tinkering of our regime and an understanding of the power a routine truly holds, we can transform ‘going through the motions’ into an invaluable tool for unlocking new-found creativity and for driving us towards our goals.
“Routine is one of the most powerful tools for removing obstacles”
Creating, implementing and adjusting the right routine is the crux of today’s Get Constructive post as we help you rethink the little things we do a lot, and show you how automating select areas of your life can remove obstacles and eliminate distractions to your all-important goals. In his must-read NY Times and Wall St Journal best selling book; ‘Essentialism’, author Greg Mckeown writes amongst other gems, a thought provoking chapter titled ‘Flow: The Genius of Routine‘. Here he portrays our daily routine as a means for conserving precious mental energy where we no longer have to spend our day prioritising each and every small decision, and can instead focus on the decisions that really matter. If we then come prepared (link here) and don’t have to choose what time to wake up, what route to take on our morning jog or what to grab from the fridge for a morning meal then we are eliminating decision fatigue over these essential activities and instead leave our mind open to concentrate on something new.
Where having a routine is step one, making it the right routine is the second and Mckeown emphasises that our routine can be equally counterproductive to our goals if the right habits are not established over time. How easy is it to sleep in ten minutes later and wander down to the bakery next to the office for breakfast? If it worked yesterday why not do it again today?…. You can see where this is going. When a routine begins to spiral into the negative, breaking old habits becomes crucial and rather than address the behaviour itself, the real key is identifying the ‘cue’ or initial thought that sparks the behaviour. Once we identify the thoughts that drag us into the bakery, we can use these same cues to remind us to visit the supermarket for a salad and ultimately push us further towards our health and fitness goals.
A potential barrier to fine-tuning your routine could be noticeable clashes between your new positive habits and that of your spouses. New meal ideas, new sleeping patterns and excess time spent at the gym away from home can lead to tension or abandoning of the new positive approach all together. This is when openness and discussion is key from the very beginning. By explaining the long-term goals of these new habits with our loved ones, we can often find understanding and better yet, the positive parts of your new killer routine may even filter through to the rest of the household.
With the right routine firmly in place and you now kicking some serious goals- it is important to mix up the routine over time to avoid that spirit-crushing monotony we discussed in today’s intro. The same chicken and salad for lunch gets really tired after 30 days, and the workout routine isn’t always as exciting as it was 3 months ago. That means it’s time to mix things up. Set one routine for weekdays and a slightly looser version for the weekend, or even have individual routines for each day of the week. You may have one routine for night shift and one for day, or the routine while working remotely could be different to the one while based at home. This variation, while always maintaining a positive and considered approach is the key to staying in the zone over the long term and finding success through positive routines. With this new perspective on your every day tasks, we at GC leave you for another week and hope you all feel empowered to engineer your routine and use it to push towards all of your goals including those in health, fitness, wellbeing and longevity. To quote Charles Duhigg from ‘The Power of Habit’,
“There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right”