“Nearly half of your day will be determined by the patterns you’ve either intentionally created or passively allowed.” -Brad Lomenick, H3 Leadership
Every morning I follow a routine. I make the coffee, take care of the dog, pour my cup as full as can be, and head to my comfy chair in my office where I settle in for some time with God in the Scriptures. Even the dog knows I’ll end up in my office chair and he heads there while I am filling my mug.
I don’t really give much thought to what I’m doing. I don’t expend tons of energy remembering what needs to be done. Somehow, my mind has memorized and mapped out the routine and without much effort from me, it happens like clockwork.
We all have routines that we have built into our lives. Each one of us follows a series of actions that we do on a regular basis and we do so with very little thought. Kids have a bedtime routine. Athletes have a game-day routine. Teachers have a classroom routine. Health enthusiasts have a work-out routine. You may have a routine to start your workday or to pick up your favorite beverage in the afternoon.
Routines are powerful. These series of habits help us navigate our way by harnessing the brain’s ability to complete the pathway that has been set in our minds. And as Brad Lomenick points out, these activities become a fixture whether we intentionally choose certain patterns to adopt or simply allow them to take root.
We are wired for routine but if we aren’t careful the series of actions that we do can move us farther away from our goals. So, what can you do to harness the power of routine in your life?
Evaluate Your Day
As I think about my day, I see the power of routine taking this sleepy-eyed girl from the covers to her comfy chair to spend some quality time with God. But as I look more closely at the rest of my day I notice some places where routine has not been my friend. I routinely put my phone next to me in the evenings. As a result, I constantly check social media. My mindless scrolling through Facebook and Instagram is a waste. I also realize that I allow other people’s agenda to interrupt the important things that I have on the calendar. I certainly want to be available, but not at the expense of the things that I know must happen.
How about you? Spend some time thinking through the routines that have been established in your day or week. What is helping you move the needle forward as you try to live radically different? What is holding you back?
Avoid the All or Nothing Mentality
I’m an all or nothing girl, which is great when I can get it all together, but it’s disastrous when it’s anything less! Don’t insist that all your routines must change at once in order for you to leverage the power of routine in your favor! It’s simply not true. Just pick one! What’s one small routine you want to put into motion in order to move you forward? Is there a habit you need to stop because it is keeping you from the transformation you seek? Focusing on a few things can radically change the outcome of your day or week and give you the motivation necessary to make other course corrections!
Replace the Old with a New
I find it hard to stop something unless I have a new way to spend that time and energy. The power of routine can seem, well, just too powerful! Maybe you have found that to be difficult too. If you have identified a habit that you want to change, do more than just stop. Decide on something new to put in its place. Just like a smoker who is trying to quit having a cigarette after a meal might instead go for a walk, decide on what you will do differently. Replacing your old pattern with a new one is key!
Our minds are amazing! God has given us such an incredible gift. We can harness the power of routine to help us live radically different. Establish yours today!