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On Routine, Structure, Practice... and Freedom (part 1)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I resist routine. I squirm out of structure, I rebel against having to do the same thing, having my time and actions pre-planned. Having to get up the same time every workday (I now have the option of occasionally working from hom - which I take full advantage of), having the same morning routine, even the same drive to work gets me bothered after a period. Weekly appointments - even for things I want to do - give me the heeby-jeebies. (When I first passed the audition into the choir I sing in and realized that rehearsals are EVERY Tuesday for8 months out of the year, I had a little panic...)

So what's up with this? Is it just my inner ornery teenager gone amok?

I guess I equate routine with staleness, with boredom, with being constrained and held back in some say. I've always been so driven by emotion, by how I feel, (a long history of severe depression made my feelings paramount for a long time). Routine, having predictable commitments seemed like a way of constricting myself in the moment. How will I know if I will feel like singing on Tuesday night? Maybe that will be the day when I will just want to veg out with Hulu, or go out with friends.

Maybe part of it is the fear of missing out. On what I may "feel like", on something better that may come along.

At the same time, I do have a history with the concept of "practice". At age 6 I started playing piano, and soon progressed to practicing (with the help of my grandma) for 2 hours a day. That shrunk to about an hour a day by high school, before I mostly quit at the end of my Sophomore year after a dramatic fumble (though that's a story for another time). But hey - that's some serious practice time, there! Did I always want to do it? no way. But I don't remember particularly resenting it, it was just something I did. (You know, until I didn't...)

That's my most dramatic experience with the idea of practice, and it occurred to me as something that was mostly externally motivated (though I didn't really fight it).

Over the years there have been things that I "wanted" to do, like learn another instrument, exercise, meditate... all things that require long-term committment. and yet i would balk at the daily routine that was required to make them happen.

and yet, there's another way to look at routine - and this article really hit it home for me:

Having a routine is really just having things that you do without having to think about them / determine what you "feel like", you just do them because you've determined - through a process of planning and introspection and taking the longer view - that these are things you're going to do, that can get you to where you want to be.

This is something that can really be helpful in trying to fit in healthy eating / cooking / exercise / meditation into a life that's hitting a chaos spike - but can be helpful even when things are good, to make them better.

This is just an early brainstorm on the subject - this is certainly something I will be journaling on and working with for a while. But it's great to start slowly making friends with the concept of routing - as a way to finally get out of short-sighted instant-gratification thinking, and into a more long-term holistic goal-oriented way of life.

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  • IGNI13
    Hero - exactly! I love that idea - routine is like having a personal secretary. It's a way to get things done that need to get done, in order to clear off space for everything else!

    Lola - thanks for your comments, and glad this was helpful! This is a very new and tough area for me - my inner kid just screams against routine, but my adult is looking to be patient and compassionate - and rational - about it. I love what you say about having "mindless" healthy eating options - exactly! There are so many times when I open the fridge to see what's for dinner, with no particular cravings of issues - and if there's a clear and ready option, that's great; it's the times when there's not that I get into trouble!
    1857 days ago
    This is actually really helpful for me in a different way! I've been complaining about how I *like* to cook, but lately I've been busy or stressed or whatever and not had the time for planning/shopping/cooking and it throws me off track of my healthy eating. I need to look at it like this!

    "things that you do without having to think about them" = we have to eat every day, so I need to have "mindless" healthy options that are the same - routine - every week. Whether I "feel like" cooking or not. And then when I feel like it, and have time, I can have "hobby" cooking - trying a new recipe, making something fancy or complicated, etc.

    GENIUS. Thank you. I'd already decided I need to do this, but this helps me frame it in an entirely different way.
    1858 days ago
    Ahhh the freedom of a routine. It's like having a personal secretary!
    1859 days ago
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