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  October 26, 2012
A Routine or a Rut?...


I recently attended a college football game involving my alma mater, San Diego State.  This particular game was a part of Homecoming weekend.  While participating in some "pre-game festivities", I happened to run into several old college friends.
As would be expected, the question "How are you doing?" frequently came up during one of these encounters.

When asked, I explained to them that life was really good for me at the moment... I am in excellent health... our business is growing each year... my relationship with friends and loved ones were strong and operated without any drama... and with the kids mostly grown, I finally had some free time for myself and to share with others less fortunate.

Life at the moment is good...
As I retold my story several times that afternoon, I began to give some serious thought to how very ordinary and simple my life had become.
Was my life in a rut?

My life is very much based on simple routines. I get up each day at 6 am... I prepare a cup of hot peppermint tea... lie on the sofa while reading the newspaper... check my e-mail... take a shower... get dressed in practically the same (albeit clean) clothes... make the bed... leave for work... drive the same route... park in the same space... etc...

I rarely vary my routines... I have grown accustom to doing things the same way each day... I rarely need to think about what I need to do next because I already know what I’m supposed to do.

To most people, it probably sounds like an incredibly boring life... doing the same thing day after day... week after week... year after year...

Although my life is very much built upon the foundation of routine... but I don’t really consider life to be boring in any way.

Routines are there for the basic maintenance functions of life. These are things that need to get done... but you don’t want to spend mental energy on them. Things like chores and obligations.

My daily routines are simply just the structure and boundaries in which I can freely operate the remaining portion of my life.

By employing simple routines in my life, I can free up time to spend on important things... things like creative outlets, opportunities to learn new things, and personal development.  The time is also spent on fostering old relationships as well as creating new ones.

Often, some of my best thinking is done while doing some mundane routine daily task.  For instance, I tend to develop a lot of good ideas while driving to and from work each day or while working out at the gym after work.
Routine allows you to become organized so you can get things of importance done.  Many people never seem to get anything done because they are so disorganized and lack focus.  Employing routines and processes allow us the opportunity to get our lives organized.

Getting organized is indeed good, but one needs to avoid falling into the trap of over-organizing.  These are the great "paper shufflers" of the world.  They seem to be constantly working... but in reality they never seem to get anything done.  They spend so much of their time organizing, separating, and sorting, that they rarely have any additional time to actually accomplish anything meaningful.
Routines are meant to simplify life not make it more complicated...

So what is the difference between life of routine and being in a rut?

Being in a rut is when we have the extra time, but we do nothing to really improve our lives.  We waste the opportunity to grow as a person or to make a difference in the world.  A rut is when we find ourselves incapable of creating new ideas, formulating unique opinions, or thinking independently. 

Routine gives us opportunity... but it’s important that we do something with the opportunity once we have it.

Ruts are easy to get into.  We get lazy... we get complacent... we get tired.

In order for us to avoid falling into ruts, we need to create challenges for ourselves.  We need to learn new things, and create new experiences. We need to create new relationships while nurturing existing ones. 

We need to stretch our horizons beyond what we are doing today and try something new... something that makes us think... something that moves us to action...

Routines help us to organize and maintain our daily lives.  They give us the opportunity to create valuable time.  Time that can be spent making a true difference in ourselves and the world around us...    

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we believe that servicing our customers is anything but routine...


Jim Kalb

www.optifuse.blogspot.com (blog archive)

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