One of my rocking soul sisters recently quit her job to pursue her passions, to start working for her own dreams instead of someone else’s. First of all I want to extend a massive congrats and all the more power to her. [You ROCK!! Can’t wait to see the places you go!]
Second I want to address what’s been coming up in a lot of our recent conversations because it completely coincides with today’s blog post; structure and what to do when you find new freedom in your life.
Let’s first have a word on freedom:
What does freedom mean to you? I feel like there’s this incredibly warped idea floating around about what freedom actually is. That routine is the antithesis of freedom. That freedom is the opposite of structure.
If you’re like most of us, freedom and routine are not complementary words. Many people associate routine with stodginess, intentional limitations, and boring, average, responsible adult-ing. Not very fun. Not what our pleasure-seeking expansive selves are looking for.
We often reject routine because we’d rather go with the flow, be adventurous, keep ourselves and our schedules open for the next most exciting event, for spontaneities sake, or ‘just in case’. We feel like routine would be asking us to give up these and so many other so-called trademarks of our freedom.
If this kind of open-ended freedom is what you’re after, then let me ask you this:
What purpose does this time and space have for you? Are you really accomplishing any more of what you actually want to be doing when you have no container to allow those goals, aspirations, or dreams come into being, come to tangibility and fruition?
Maybe? …Or not really?
Routine aims to solve that.
Routine doesn’t have to mean giving something up, rather routine helps create flow, create a pattern/groove to hold growth, movement, and development.
In order to crush this negative association of stagnation and imprisonment with routine, I’d like to propose a small perspective shift of switching out the word routine with ritual.
I really liked what one blogger wrote about this:
RITUAL VS. ROUTINE
The difference between a ritual and a routine is that with a ritual, we are fully present and aware of what we are doing. We are focused and mindful about it. We’re not just doing it because we have to. Routines you can do on autopilot. Rituals are intentional. For instance, brushing my teeth is a routine for me. I do it (twice) every day without thinking about it much. But I can totally see how it could be a ritual for someone else if it filled that need for them.
Rituals are tools.
Rituals can be your friends.
What can daily rituals do for me? Here are 10 tools that they can provide you with:
This one is at the top of my list precisely because (as the quote above states) we are what we repeatedly do. Rituals can help you repeatedly instill a good practice until it forms habit. This holds true for helping to break old or negative patterns that no longer serve a useful purpose.
2. Giving structure to your day.
When there’s a logical sequence to what happens morning, afternoon, and evening, inserting and attaining the bigger goals as smaller steps becomes a simple and easy matter. You can suddenly see where extra time and space exists in your day, and these elongated periods of built-up time helps those goals become bite-sized, chewable, and attainable.
3. Always helping you move forward with your goals, hopes, and dreams.
4. Gives clear direction and purpose to your day.
Helping you go to bed having accomplished something meaningful in your busy schedule and hectic day-to-day life.
5. Saves time, one of our most valuable assets.
No longer will the day just slip between your fingers.
6. Makes us more efficient by helping us prioritize our day.
7. Big-picture view.
Helps us continuously zoom out to view the bigger picture and make decisions based more often on long-term than short-term pleasures.
8. Helps us keep track of our movement, growth, and success.
Slow and steady wins the race.
9. Reduces the need for extra energy expended on willpower and determination.
By getting in a groove, our bodies and minds become accustomed to our daily habits and no longer take as much effort to pull or push ourselves into doing. Like a muscle that gets used often, it’s not nearly as difficult to harness when it’s already in a state of constant use as when you first begin building it up.
10. Procrastination will reduce and and self-confidence will boost.
With the same principle of muscle-building in mind, over time daily rituals will also build momentum in what it is you’re expending effort on and belief in yourself and what it is you’re capable of. Success breeds success. Known fact.
Summed up eloquently in this quote:
Focused and productive mornings carry over to successful days, and ultimately successful lives.”
For morning leads to afternoon and evening…
In this article, Ryan Holiday leaves us off with a couple questions to help you shape your own routine:
- What does my ideal day look like?
- What interrupts me and causes me the most stress?
- Is there anything that is needlessly sucking energy away from my work ?
- What, if anything, is conducive to me performing at a high level?
- What can be automated or repeated every single day with little in the way of diminishing returns?
- What helps reduce uncertainty in my day?
- Is there anything that smart people I admire (and am similar to) are doing well that I can copy?
And then, of course, take this information, experiment, and adapt until you have the right routine fit for you.