Want To Start A New Routine Easy Just Disrupt Your Whole Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about routines since last December. My friend Sebastian is incredible at maintaining routines, and my friend Tynan considers routines one of the secret ingredients to consistency, which he thinks of as his superpower.

I am definitely not an expert at maintaining routines, but I’ve had fits and starts. In January I started a “Monthly Focus Project.” Every month I was going to pick one (JUST ONE!) of the many activities I want to improve. January was Blues Dancing. Other activities in the hopper were poker, tricking, poi, writing, yoga, etc.

The intention was that during the month, I’d find a way to do that activity as much as possible, it would always be the default activity, and it would take precedence over other options. At the end of the month, I’d either repeat the same activity if I wanted to improve more, or switch to the next one.

In January I went dancing 18 times (which was great!). I learned so much, and I made huge leaps in my dancing that I’ve been able to largely maintain to this day. decided to repeat it the next month. In February, I went dancing 1 time. The project fell apart.

In March, I spent a month traveling to Palestine, Israel, and China. I decided I was going to blog about my experiences every day. During the two weeks in Palestine and Israel, I woke up early every day to write. I wrote about my expectations vs the reality of Palestine, I wrote about Palestinian startup culture, I wrote about losing my passport and how people react to crises. I’ve been able to remember so many details, so many stories, and so many of my thoughts about that trip.

Then I went to China, and didn’t write at all. Whomp whomp. I remember China, but not nearly as well as I remember Israel and Palestine.

I started going to Physical Therapy in September for some chronic shoulder pain. In her office, the PT and I did a lot of tests and exercises and movements to help her figure out the best way to correct the problem. After each session, she’d give me homework. Very simple movements I could do with little to no equipment that should fix my shoulder. I saw her four times over about 6 weeks.

I did the exercises a grand total of three times.

This was really frustrating. I was paying her a lot of money. I trusted her. Her tests actually stopped the pain in my shoulder - I knew this would work. So why didn’t I do the freaking exercises?

It came down to routine. I had a routine at home. And it’s really hard to change routines. It’s not like I actively decided not to do them. It’s just that I usually only thought about doing them when I didn’t have time or couldn’t do them.

I only have three minutes before the bus. I’m in the car. I’m falling asleep, and if I get up to exercise I’ll be wide awake. I’m in the shower, I’ll do them when I get out and dry off (but then I forget).

Adding something as simple as 10 minutes of simple exercises to my daily routine was really hard.

Several times, I’d try to write down my intended morning routine, so I wouldn’t have to think. I could just read it off the post it note on the wall.

That would work well for a few days, but for the last six months my schedule has been anything but standard. Some days I have to get up at 5am. Some days, 7am. Other days, I don’t have to wake up at any particular time so I focus on getting a full 8 hours. Some days I slept in hotels, some days I slept at friends’ houses. Ultimately, all this fluctuation meant my routine would get disrupted.

Thinking about when I’ve succeeded, when I’ve failed, and the Why’s, it seems like there’s always a major life change involved. Traveling, for instance. When I travel, I can start and maintain new routines easily. As soon as I go back home, I fall back into my old routines.

Now that I’ve recognized that, maybe I can do something about it. When I come back from #pricelinetrip, I’ll either be homeless, or have to dive right into finding a new place to live. While I’m going to continue trying to change my habits at home, I can definitely use my new apartment as a catalyst for change.

What do you wish you did as part of your daily routine? What can you do to start incorporating that? Leave a comment and share!

This has been Day 2 in Vienna. Went on a walking tour of Vienna and went to an opera for the first time. Picture is of the Opera House.

On the flight to Europe, I made a list of a few things I want to do every day on #pricelinetrip:

  • Communicate with at least one person from back home
  • Write every day.
  • Do my PT exercises every day.

  • Meet and talk to someone new every day.
  • Do something new.

I’m going to start including whether or not I did each of these five bullet points in the *** section of each of my blog posts. For this post:

  • Communicate: Yes.
  • Write: Yes.
  • PT: Yes.
  • Meet someone new: Yes. Canace, from England. Speaks English, German, French, Russian.
  • Do something new: Yes. Went to the Opera.
Written on January 4, 2014