It’s easy to overlook the effect our routines have on us. Once they get established we don’t usually give them much thought unless they are interrupted. But a bad routine can be having far more impact on your life than you imagine, even when it is not a drastically unhealthy one like say, eating fast food on a regular basis, smoking a cigarette first thing each morning, or eating fried food at every meal. The reason our routines are so important is consistency. The things we do (big and small) consistently over time shape our lives.
The good news is that this means that the seemingly small or insignificant good things that we do in our routines are likewise having a tremendously positive effect on our lives (whether we recognize it or not). The saying goes, “don’t sweat the small stuff” but the small stuff, when it happens consistently, is the stuff that makes up our lives.
The routine I had to change
Here’s an example from my own life, I worry about being judged unfairly for this but I think it’s important to share, and likewise I hope you’ll share some examples of your own in the comments.
After years of drinking socially and often in college, when I finally embraced adult life with it went the heavy drinking and binge drinking I used to take part in, but what remained was a daily habit of having one or two glasses of wine. Every single day.
This felt fine on a functional level. I wasn’t having hangovers anymore, or forgetting who I kissed the night before (my husband, is a solid guess now), so for years I didn’t give it any real consideration. Although if I am honest, there was always a quiet little voice piping up inside me that wondered how healthy this was. There’s that little voice again. How many times has that voice known things before I did? But as usual I shushed it.
All the evidence passed around in the media also supported this amount of drinking. Actually, it did not entirely support it, I was a little on the high side of healthy, but it wasn’t too much of a stretch to make it fit. One glass a day is a healthy amount they say. Two (for women) is pushing it but nothing to get alarmed about. That was me.
But in the past couple of years, with a young child, a full time job, and a desire to do some creating of my own, the little voice began speaking even louder; questions began entering my mind like: Am I really making the best use of my time each night? I knew there was more I wanted to do with my life than work and come home and unwind. When was that going to happen? Did I feel as great as I could each day? Was this daily routine really healthy? Why was I so short tempered and snappy? When our family went through a period where my personal strength was called on more than ever, how did I get so incredibly run down (Hint: it wasn’t all the wine’s fault but it did have something to do with a life approach that was undermining me.)?
Needless to say, I don’t have all the answers but what I do know is that since I have cut back on drinking, I feel GREAT!!! I am less crabby, sleep better, have a budding creative life again, and probably most important of all (and this was a side affect that I had not anticipated) I feel much better about myself because I faced this nagging sense that it was not good for me and I found a way to set myself on a better path. I was proactive.
I’ll write another post sometime about how I went about making this change, but in the meantime…
It’s only by really looking at the truth of our lives that we can begin to have dominion over them. Which of your routines do you have a sneaking suspicion is weighing you down? What have you done about it/Where are you on that journey?
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