I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. The 5:40 alarm had gone off, Stacia was ready to get out the door, but I just couldn’t bring myself to budge out of bed. I knew that this was our routine, and it was, in some ways, the foundation of what keeps me moving forward week to week. But this day, I couldn’t stick to it.
I believe in the power of habit and routine. It’s all about conserving your willpower to allow you to focus on what matters most to you. But on that day, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to stay with it. I had committed to this schedule. I had been doing it for months, yet that morning something felt different.
I had a choice: force myself to get up and go to do my usual workout, or get more rest. I don’t know why it felt so difficult that morning — lack of sleep, over exertion, who knows — but I couldn’t do it.
I have been traveling a lot over the last few weeks— visiting family and catching up with old friends. Now that I’m back home, it’s time to get back on that routine and schedule. I really like wide open space on my calendar and sometime resist being scheduled, but I’ve learned how much it helps to have structure and intention in the hours of the day. It helps me get things done, and some days — like today — I could use some more of that!
When I didn’t have it in me to get up that morning, I decided that it was ok to rest a little longer. It felt like forcing myself to move would have been unkind. Maybe that morning I needed kindness more than I needed consistency.
One of the great parts of having a routine is being able to break your routine.
A routine keeps you on task and keeps you moving when things are hard (which can be often). It also gives you space and a structure to work within. And it gives you a structure to break when it makes sense. There has to be a balance here— if you always break your routine, then it’s not a routine — but sometimes breaking your routine is exactly what you need.
A routine is a lot like music and art theory— it provides a structure to work within.
Whether or not a musician actively studies theory, their work (if it’s good) works within that structure. And, similar to a routine, their work breaks that structure from time to time. If they didn’t abide by the “rules” of theory, their music would not make sense (the rules give us guidelines to what we should expect), but if they abide by all the rules, what they make is boring. By breaking the rules — carefully and intentionally — artists can create something new, different, and surprising.
It’s the same way with your routine.
Keep the routine because it will make your life work for you, and then break your routine when it needs to be broken.
Sometimes breaking your routine is really important. Sometimes life, energy, and creativity are found outside of your usual routine.