Routine and discipline are often associated with boredom and sacrifice. Depending on your approach, your routine might be boring. and discipline may feel like sacrifice. That might be ok for a short period of time, but habits that last must offer more.
I recently committed to new routine, and then I remembered what usually happens when I start a routine that is too rigid, and doesn’t have a bunch of room for real life.
- I get a cold or bug that stops me in my tracks. I always think of it as a reminder from above that I don’t run the world.
- I lose interest after a few weeks or days.
Whenever there is a change in season or lifestyle, I like to experiment with new structure and routine, but this time, I’ll be infusing my routine with a good dose of joyful discipline. I want to create daily routines that last, and support good health, my best work, and a really big heart.
I crave routine that gives me space to chase my curiosity, time to really enjoy what I’m doing instead of rushing from one thing to the next, and the energy I need to be open and thoughtful.
1. Choose Wisely
Create your routine with a mix of habits and activities that contribute to long-term health and good work, but that also offer immediate benefits. For instance, drinking green smoothies helps you consume high quantities of fruits and veggies, but adding ginger gives you a daily zing that will result in early morning smiles.
2. Adjust for Inflation
If your schedule blows up with something unexpected, without joyful discipline, you might feel resentful or frustrated. Plan to be surprised, and let go when you need to.
3. Adjust for Deflation
You may have created your routine for days you are full of energy and focus. If you toss and turn the night before, you might not have the level of commitment you have after an 8 hour snooze. Instead of pushing through, adjust, back off, and do less.
Pay attention to how your routine is treating you. Do you feel healthier, happier, and more loving, or stressed and rundown? If after some time, your routine is not contributing to your well-being so you can contribute at a higher level to everyone around you, change things up.
Even though you will be adjusting for inflation and deflation, it’s up to you to protect your routine by saying no, making cuts, and giving yourself the space you need to grow, thrive, and heal. When we have to juggle everything, we can’t enjoy anything.
If your routine includes an early morning trip to the gym, and you scowl as you turn off your alarm clock at 5am, commit to smiling when you wake up. Stretch and smile before you get out of bed. Instead of thinking about how much you want to sleep in, remember how fortunate you are to have the opportunity to get up and workout. It might be a hard sell at first, but after a few days, your smile will work its way into your head.
Include other people in your routine. As someone who loves to spend time quietly writing, I know how hard this can be. Schedule calls with people who lift you up or invite friends for a weekly walk. Even if you work with other people all day long, intentionally including the right people in your routine will make a big difference.
If boredom is something you worry about, have 2 or 3 routines that you rotate throughout the week. I’m experimenting with something similar detailed below.
Schedule one day a week to wake up with no plans or obligations. This might be a good day to unplug your computer, take your Fitbit off, and remember what it’s like to let the day unfold. If your schedule is too full, aim for one day every two weeks or once a month to start.
10. Remember your why
When you create your routine, write a few sentences about why you want to structure your day with intention. When you are feeling unmotivated to continue, read what you wrote. Remembering your why will provide great emotional leverage when things get tough.
I am going to practice the following routine with joyful discipline in mind.
- 5:30 – 8:30 Morning Routine
- 8:30 – 1:00 Making (Writing/Creating/Brainstorming)
- 1:00 – 2:30 Break
- 2:30 – 6:00 Admin related work/Errands/Meetings/Calls
- 5:30 – 7:00 Morning Routine
- 7:00 – 9:00 Walk/Write
- 9:00 – 10:30 Yoga
- 10:30 – 12:30 Walk/Lunch/Read
- 12:30 – 3:30 Admin related work/Errands/Meetings/Calls
- 3:30 – 5:30 Open
- 5:30 – 8:30 Making (Writing/Creating/Brainstorming)
- Open for connecting and community
I’ll be tracking my time to see where I need to adjust, and paying attention to how I feel so I can pivot if necessary. I am incredibly blessed to have the freedom to structure my day this way. When I worked full-time for someone else, I didn’t have as much flexibility, but that’s when I started a meaningful morning routine. At first I only had a few minutes to work with, then a few hours, and now days at a time.
Start small and be mindful of how you spend your time. The more intentional you are, the more you will treasure the opportunity to create routine with joyful discipline.