If You Want to Change the Outcome, Change the Routine

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

As you go through your morning routine each day, does it ever occur to you just how much of a routine that is? With very minor exceptions, most of us do pretty much the same thing every day from the moment we get up until we get to work or begin whatever activities normally consume our day. I suspect even retired people have a routine. I’m not there yet, but I’ll find out soon enough.

My dog makes sure at least part of that routine goes uninterrupted. He’s patient while I get a shower and get dressed. But about the time he thinks I should be done, he’s patiently tapping his paws on the floor, waiting for me to sit in the recliner, give him his morning hug, and then let him out while I fill his food bowl. Then he comes in and starts the vitamin dance. He gets two. And he can count.

Dogs are such creatures of habit. And we are, too. When you get up tomorrow morning, try changing up your routine. If you normally brush your teeth first, do something else. Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Then brush your hair. Yes, before you get in the shower. Who cares if you’ll have to do it again? The fun part of this exercise is to see just how much it throws off your routine.

You may want to make a checklist the night before, because odds are you’ll forget something. You’ll get halfway to work and realize your computer is still sitting by the front door. Believe me, I’ve done that one without even trying. When we skip any step in our routine, intentionally or not, we’re like that confused dog, trying to find our place so we can get back to normal.

It’s all a matter of habit – habits so deeply ingrained in our very being that we do them without even thinking. Like wiping your mouth after a sip of water or closing a pen before you put it in your pocket. Oh, we miss from time to time. Something distracts us and we forget to do something. And then you get home and see a big blob of ink on your shirt pocket and realize what you forgot. Oops!

I guess I’m showing my age, because most shirts don’t have pockets anymore. Somehow, pockets have gone out of style. At least that’s what my wife keeps telling me. And that’s for women, because you carry a purse that’s big enough to hold the contents of six dozen pockets. If I need someplace to put a ballpoint pen, I’ve only got a couple of choices.

 And just like our morning routines, we have tastes in clothing, food, décor, and a bunch of other things that we’re reluctant to change. Are blue shirts a habit with me? Not really. But I do like blue shirts – with pockets. But, just like my favorite Halloween candy (peanut butter kisses), they’re getting harder and harder to find. So, I have to adapt. Reluctantly, I’ll admit. But I don’t have much choice.

We all like to think we’re spontaneous, but we’re creatures of habit more than we think. And if we want to change the direction of our lives, we have to change some of those habits. Because, just like a model train, the track always leads to the same destination unless we do something to change it. The train can’t make any turns on its own – it simply follows the track. Real trains do that, too.

It’s fun to watch a train run around in circles, but after a while it gets a little boring. The same thing happens when we put ourselves on a circular track where the scenery never changes. We get up every day at the same time, do the same things, follow the same routines, and then wonder why life never changes. It’s pretty simple. If you want to move ahead, you have to get on another track.

And that means shaking things up a bit. You have to break the routine and change some of those long-held habits. You might even have to try a different kind of candy or find someplace else to put your pen. But it’s the only way to move from where you are now to where you want to be.

Change is difficult, but you’ve done it before. All you have to do is decide on a new direction and break the routine enough to follow that path. The change may be so subtle, you barely even notice. But like a ship at sea, the smallest change can lead you to an entirely new destination. Set yourself on a new course and follow it to the end. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved