It may seem like being footloose and fancy-free 24/7 would be liberating – after all, who hasn’t dreamt of what they’d do with all the time and money in the world? But in reality, lack of structure usually leads to chaos, no matter how smart, strong or driven you are!
Universally speaking, people need a purpose. Absent of deadlines, goals and guidelines, maintaining that sense of purpose becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible! Translation: having a routine increases your chances of success and overall happiness. Here are three good reasons why:
A framework for life
Knowing that we have specific tasks to do each day or each week not only gives us goalposts – things to look forward to – it creates the framework on which we hang the other, less predictable parts of our lives. Establishing a routine allows us to know what to expect when, and if constructed properly (with work, family and the various aspects of self all accounted for in the day to day), it ensures that we attend to all the areas of our lives that need attention. In addition, following at least a semi-structured schedule creates the balance we need to cope with life’s curveballs, giving us something to fall back on when the unexpected happens and a standard operating procedure for when things are going smoothly.
A map of necessity
Let’s face it. A lot of times we don’t feel like doing anything. Whether it’s out of laziness, exhaustion or any other combination of factors, there are days, weeks and months that were it not for our routines, we’d hole up and stop functioning. While it’s necessary to take a break or switch things up on occasion, without a routine it would be even harder to pick back up and start again – on the same path or a different one. That’s because it’s through our commitment to our personal routines that we actually find the motivation to accomplish our goals. When all else fails, our daily, weekly and monthly tasks provide the driving force that gets us from point A to point Z hitting all (or at least some) of the marks in between.
Daily routines are easy to create, but challenging to follow. They require discipline and repetition -and they generate results ranging from checking off the items on your big and little “to-do” lists to improved general satisfaction and wellbeing. That said, if you’ve been consistent about a routine and it’s not working for you then there’s a reason. It’s time to re-examine your routine. Rather than being committed to a plan that’s proven itself obsolete or wrong, it’s from the lessons of what we’ve already tried that we find new ways to thrive.
The United States Marines (one of the most regimented institutions in existence) have a guideline – AIO (“Adapt,” “Improvise,” “Overcome”). We would never know what we were made of if we didn’t have to deal with the occasional wrench in our plans. Perhaps that’s the reason why people who implement routines are not just more likely to succeed and report happiness, but they’re more likely to grow as well. Because as much as routines provide a framework and keep us on track, one of the best things about them is they’re meant to help us evolve.
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