I used to hate routines. Absolutely despised them. I felt like they were constricting and I got bored easily. This was during a time in my life where I only knew chaos. When life became too robotic, I got anxious and usually booked a plane ticket to counteract the discomfort. Spontaneity not only kept my life exciting, but it also kept me from seeing deeper issues I wasn’t ready to face.
But lack of routine means lack of structure. So when my world came crumbling, which is did quite often, I was a sinking ship. This was me two years ago.
When I woke up this morning for my 7am workout, no part of my body wanted to go. I tossed and turned until the absolute last second. The thought that finally got me out of bed was: this is when going matters the most.
Something I didn’t realize back then was that your habits prime you for future situations. The more headstrong you are when waters are calm, the more prepared you are when it begins to get rocky. I was barely keeping my head above water two years ago, so of course I started drowning when life got rough. You don’t need structure when it’s easy, you need it when it’s hard. When you practice structure daily, it becomes habit and automatic regardless of external circumstances.
Whether you’re lacking a routine or not quite sure what sort of structure you need, I have some tips for you.
Start with your mornings and evenings.
I know people always talk about starting your day off right, but in my opinion your day begins the night before. Set yourself up with a really good evening routine. What time do you need to go to bed to have a good night’s sleep? What are the things that keep you up late and how can you counteract those temptations? What things quiet your mind and what things haunt you at 2am?
As far as mornings go, I think everyone is a little different. I need time to wake up slowly while others benefit from hopping out of bed right away. I know some people who like getting to work first thing while I like a little more priming. Make a list of what will get your day going right, then set a period of time you feel comfortable with to prioritize yourself every morning. Some examples could be:
Listening to a podcast/motivational speech
Eating a clean breakfast
My evenings and mornings are the foundation for my mental health. When my mental health is in check, I can show up as so much more for the world around me. Practicing these routines on a daily basis will keep your mindset and energy in a great place.
Brainstorm what you need to keep your energy high
Our brains were created for survival not happiness, it is our responsibility to reprogram and recondition our thinking. When you move throughout your days, take notes of the things that trigger you. The woman who cut you off on the highway, the man who catcalled you on the sidewalk, your food coming out cold at the restaurant. It’s not about these situations themselves, but you’ll recognize how judgmental our minds are conditioned to be. These judgmental thoughts bring down our energy and snowball throughout our days.
Energy is everything. It determines how we show up to our life and interpret the world around us. It is not always easy to keep your energy up, but it is worth it. When your energy is high, the woman on the highway wont affect you as much.
Make a list of the things that make you feel good. Maybe you really enjoy working on your side hustle, traveling, or spending time with loved ones. Leverage this and create intentional time in your schedule to do these things. This will not only add purpose to your life but also strengthen your mindset. The more high energy you are when things are easy, the more naturally resilient you’ll be when things get hard.
Write down your “why”
It’s impossible to be enthusiastic and motivated all the time. People make the mistake of stopping things because they are no longer fun. Remember the bigger picture and write down your “why”.
I journal every morning so I am self-aware about how I move through my days. I practice gratitude so I recognize what I already have. I practice affirmations to remind myself of who I am and what I’m capable of. I meditate and visualize to slow my mind and create goals. I workout to keep my body strong and healthy. You get the point. There is a reason for everything that I do. And there should be a reason for everything that you do.
Most days I enjoy my routine and it benefits me immensely. Other days I wake up and want nothing to do with any of it but do it anyways. This is the difference between people who can’t seem to get where they want to go and people who can.
Creating routines seems restricting because it means doing things when you don’t always want to do it. But it strengthens your mind and expands your life. You will attract opportunities and experiences that you didn’t quite think you could handle. And when things do get hard, because this is life and they do, you’ll find yourself leaning on these routines even more because it is a constant in your life.
Thank you for reading.