Want to know a secret? Your life can be enhanced and made happier, sassier, and more productive with the addition of supportive routines and rituals to your daily life. You see, some loose structure around how we spend our precious time allows us to harness our focus and move forward towards our deepest desires.
Just from my use of the word “routine,” you may be thinking of me as stiff or old-fashioned, but that’s ok. The suggestion of “structure” around time may have you snickering at me behind my back as you skim past this post believing it isn’t important. “She doesn’t know how to be spontaneous” you may be saying as you laugh.
Or you may be shaking your head with the “poor thing, she simply doesn’t understand what it means to live in the moment.”
If you’re Southern, you may even be “bless her little heart”-ing” me, believing that I must be this bored little thing with all my structure and no room for serendipity.
Let me tell you something, darling. Routines are neither old fashioned nor are they stiff.
What routines are is a conscious choice about how to expend energy so that all the habits that make up our lives keep us actively moving towards what we really want.
So, you have big dreams! I love that about you! You want to write a novel. Have an art show. Raise children to be productive citizens. Grow your own tomatoes and peppers so that you can make your own salsa for Christmas gifts. All worthy and lovely aspirations.
But, if you want to see these dreams grow from seeds you plant into bearing fruit, so to speak, you have to continue to step towards the desired outcome. And you have a choice in the way you approach this.
You can run around all willy-nilly trying to squeeze as much possible into each day. And honestly, the result of that is that you’ll wonder why you are exhausted. You’ll wonder why you aren’t really happy. You’ll plot how long it’s going to be until “vacation.”
Or you can make the decision to take charge of how you spend your time.
I’m not even going to suggest that you go about planning every moment of your time. That’s silly and controlling and certainly leaves no space for serendipity. Effective and nourishing routines simply act as a framework for your days – a structure upon which you can hang some of those serendipitous moments.
If you were to choose only one routine, make it a bedtime routine.
This allows you to close out the day with love, and prepare yourself for the coming one with grace. I can’t give you a formula, darling, but I can suggest three elements: preparing for the coming day (reviewing your calendar for meetings and appointments, choosing your clothes, staging brief case and keys by the door), self-care (brushing your teeth, washing your face, moisturizing your skin, taking your medication), and a brief moment of stilling your mind (prayer, meditation, gratitude journal writing, etc).
What this does for you is send a message to your brain that you are choosing to be deliberate about the coming day.
It will help you fall asleep with a lighter heart and allow you to wake without the “OH, crap, I forgot I had to do……” feeling that tends to wake us in the middle of the night with our hearts pounding.
Want to feel sassier? Add a morning routines to create an environment of loving order and support.
They are the tasks that allow you to move through your home (and into your work life) in a manner that minimizes distraction for your attention, and provides order in your spaces for amped up productivity. Think of tasks like: unloading the dishwasher, making your bed, clearing the bathroom counter, and putting away your nightie and slippers.
This supports you as you move through the morning (and the rest of your day, actually) without having to over-think or strategize. This leaves your energy for creating and strategizing where it belongs: on your work!
Simplistic sounding? Maybe. But darling, it works. You see, those seemingly small details can make the difference between a day that flows and feels like love and a day that feels like crappy chaos with a cherry of fear on top.
This is what happens: when you create solid and nourishing routines to begin and close out your day, your brain can go on auto-pilot during these tasks and achieve outstanding results. It actually helps move you out of the existing from one task to the next. Why? Because you’re allowing the lion’s share of your precious focus, attention and energy to go towards the important parts of living.
One of the wisest questions I’ve heard in recent weeks was: “Based on your daily routines and actions, where can you expect to be in five years?” It’s a great question, because, we don’t spend the majority of life taking part in those “special event days” or a single whirlwind trip. Our lives are made up of the moments in our daily lives.
Want to love your life? Find joy in the necessary activities involved in creating a life. Kiss your sweetheart good morning. Share a cup of coffee out of your favorite cup. Place fresh flowers in the kitchen and your bedroom. Take time to add a slice of lemon to a glass of iced water. Routines are a part of that: laying out the right outfit for the day, preparing the coffee pot before you go to bed, and a short meditation before you go to bed.
You support an extraordinary life with extraordinary routines.
Look at it this way you are like an author writing your life story and the words on the page are how you live. You are in charge of the story. Providing yourself with supportive routines allows you to spend the time creating your story instead of just thinking about the plot lines that will never happen.
Running around without focus makes you exhausted and really doesn’t get anything done. Simply going through the motions of life isn’t living. Doing the same things gets you the same things. Your story only changes when you make changes. And the best way I know to begin making changes is to create those changes in the way you spend your time.
And snagging my little secret: supportive routines.