I used to hate the word routine thinking it was boring, a spontaneity- and creativity-killer and what 'anal' people did.
How wrong I was.
Routine (or as I prefer to think of it now: Ritual) is enriching and freeing. Knowing what we're doing when, and doing those things more deliberately gives greater meaning to life, a welcome sense of control and through that sense of control, a sense of liberation and creativity, a sense of me fully owning and running my life (rather than my life owning and running me).
I was reminded recently of a quote I came across on a discarded box of shower toiletries: 'happiness is our passion to change everyday routines into meaningful rituals'. Aside from the cheesy marketing(!) there's a lot of truth in this.
Noticing the sky
For me happiness comes from feeling at peace.
To feel at peace I need to feel a sense of equilibrium with enough space and time around me to feel fully present to what's going on around me. It's when I'm present to life that life comes easily, and when I'm not present that things get hard.
Over the years I've established several daily habits or rituals which keep me grounded and my reserves of energy and wellbeing topped up; things that help me create the space and time around Me that I need. My favourite is to ensure I notice the sky each day - you wouldn't believe what a powerful daily habit for me this is - I'm sure you've got your own.
When life starts controlling you rather than the other way round
Normally these daily acts are enough, but life is moving fast - I'm working hard at my business and we're likely facing another period of transition as my husband's current contract comes to an end. Recently I've been noticing life slipping away from me a bit, and external events starting to feel as if they're in control of me rather than the other way round.
With our family's future uncertain, I'm aware that even more than ever, making ritual out of routine is the way to claw back control and create stability and intention in days that seem to start in one place (in terms of our understanding of what the future holds), and end in another.
The Game Changer
With life so busy, injecting MORE into life is not the answer. Ritualising what is already happening is the key.
Pondering this on holiday my husband and I came up with the radical solution of ritualising breakfast.
This might not sound much to the casual observer, but to us, it's been a game changer, and you know how I feel about those....!
For us, making more of breakfast time means several shifts in the way we currently do things:
The big plus of all of this is we all have a moment to share and connect before the day begins; my husband leaves for work earlier; our little boy has a regular departure time for creche; and I'm able to be at my desk promptly by nine o'clock.
It ALSO means my husband is able to return earlier from work in the evening, see our little boy, give me some space, and for us both to sit down to dinner together at a decent time.
The Power of Turning Routine into Ritual.
These are HUGE changes - let's not forget: breakfast used to be eaten standing up in instalments whilst simultaneously making lunch, getting our little boy ready for creche, showering and discussing the day ahead.
As I say: for us, a game changer - it's been two weeks now and we haven't looked back - you wonder why we never did it before...?!
We start the day with a sense of space and time and control - I'm smiling just thinking about it, it really has helped us create a sense of stability and grounding at the start of the day that impacts massively on our sense of control over life in a turbulent time.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. Happy Ritualising!
Coach and mentor to professionals, business owners, and passionate people leading busy international lives.