“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”Jim Rohn
In Jules Verne’s ‘Around the world in eighty days‘, the central character of the book Phileas Fogg would wake up, shave using warm water set at a specific temperature, leave for the Reform club where he would read newspapers, have lunch and play cards with other gentlemen – all at the exact same hour every day.
In fact so fastidious was he in his habits that he wagered that it was possible to go around the world in exactly eighty days. While I’m no Phileas Fogg, I too am a creature of habit and like to follow a set routine which both frees me from fretting about the small stuff and provides me with a sense of security.
Human beings have limited supply of will power at their disposal. So if everyday you have to keep thinking about what time to get up, what to eat for breakfast, what exercises to do, it will simply suck out the energy required to do the other important things in life.
Daily routines have a hugely beneficial effect of providing an order within the chaos of life. If you have an organized morning routine of getting up, attending to important tasks earlier in the day, working out and having a healthy breakfast, it really sets up the rest of the day.
Today there are umpteen self help books touting the benefits of rising at 4am to meditate, exercise, do creative work and everything else under the sun. As with all fads, what is not explained is that not every rule works for everyone. We all are unique individuals with our own personalities, habits and personal situations. So one should follow a routine that is self adjusted and not based on what some billionaire CEO or celebrity is doing.
I like to typically wake up around 7 am and go for my morning walks, I try to walk briskly just short of running and do 4-5 kms. I love listening to audio books on my walks and find it really relaxing. After that I rest for an hour and catch up on newspapers followed by a 30 minute yoga session. I have been experimenting with a 10 minute meditation in the mornings but that’s yet to become a daily habit.
I find that keeping things simple is one of the easier ways to make it permanent. If I try to do too many things or try random things on different days it never works. For me its consistency that is the most important. So I stick to doing the same sequence of things for months on end till it falls into a lasting habit.
Scott Adams the creator of Dilbert says that he believes in Systems vs Goals and even goes on to say that goals are for loosers. He defines ‘system’ as something that you do on a repeatable day to day basis, something which is discrete and measurable. So daily routines very much fall into the systems category.
Eventually, while we can all talk about the 5 year goal far out into the future, it’s what we do today is what really matters. It’s like those small incremental investments that compounds over a period of time.
I had a fanciful goal of writing a blog every day and needless to say it failed spectacularly. I have readjusted my goal now to write 2 blogs a week and do it for the next couple of months. If I can achieve that then I can think about the next goal.
These are some of my learnings in recent months in sticking with a daily routine:
- Do not crowd your mornings with too many activities, pick up 2-3 things at a time and stick with it.
- As they say its not about daily progress but progress every day. As long as a general discipline is followed, there should be some leeway built in, you don’t have to go maniacal.
- Its easy to start something but incredibly difficult to be consistent. Be realistic, set small achievable goals and when you start exceeding them regularly then raise the bar slightly.
- Do not fall for fads (the 5 am club, keto diets, bullet coffee and their ilk). Build your own rules and stick to them. Its extremely liberating to live by your own set of rules when you can.
- Be ready to experiment and adjust. One doesn’t have to keep doing something which is clearly not working in the name of routine.
- Keep things simple so that you are not reaching out for a planner where every next minute is planned.
- Lastly, build off days into your schedule where you don’t have to follow a routine, take that sat or sun off and do what you like. Afterall we are humans not machines.
As they say we become what we repeatedly do. Keep going!