It’s funny. When you’re younger and you do things, it’s because you generally “think” they’re right, as opposed to actually “knowing” it, so when people have a tendency to challenge you on it, you sometimes can become shakier than most politicians ability to actually answer a question directly. However, at the age of 35, I look back on many of the decisions and habits I’ve made to live my life and can overall feel confident that, while many people may have thought it was a little cray-cray (I guarantee you this word will be in the Oxford dictionary in about 10 years), overall, they have served me very well up to this point. One of those such aforementioned mentioned habits was just that…habits. I remember when I was younger (say 20, 25, or even 30), I would often have people tell me that having habits/routines can be SO boring (think Ben Carson speaking), because you’re not living your life with spontaneity. What I’ve learned, however, is that if you don’t have habits (some could interpret this as STANDARDS for your behavior), you’ll find yourself blowing to the whim of any outside influence that happens to come your way that day. There are several advantages of having a set of solid routines that you stick by religiously for your personal development and success in life.
I. They ensure you get the amount of practice you need.
If anyone has seen Steph Curry’s pregame ritual, it is one of the most amazing things ever. He puts on a dribbling and shooting display like very few people have the ability to do and is committed to doing it before every single game. What many people would say is “Man, he is such a good player. There’s no way he actually NEEDS to do that before each game.” But for Steph, the fact that he feels he does need to is exactly why he is such an amazing player. For many people, the practice part of the job is not fun. It’s the reason The Answer (that would be Allen Iverson for those of you who aren’t up to speed on your 90’s-00’s basketball nicknames) was a good player, but some would say not great – he didn’t understand the value of practice. The thing about practice is that you need A LOT of it to be great. Sometimes, however, you just don’t feel like doing it (similar to your expenses at work) and if you base when you do it on how you feel, the chances are you’ll find every reason in the book…and some in magazines and pamphlets…to get out of it. By establishing a routine that you stick to NO MATTER WHAT, you don’t have to worry if you are getting enough time in to make up your 10,000 hours (please click the link if you don’t know what I’m referring to; it’s one of the greatest revelations of our time in my opinion), to take your game to the next level of achievement.
II. They force you to stay disciplined.
While this is a subset of the previous reason, it is a tad bit different because it refers to the overall concept of staying focused (think the difference between gelato and frozen yogurt – I was wondering too; click here for the answer). To get the amount of time you need to be successful, you have to have a set of standards that you will not deviate from. By establishing routines and holding yourself accountable to them, you greatly increase your ability to not be deterred from this path. Discipline is nothing but a characteristic that you exhibit from an inner decision to make a commitment. A commitment is when you decide to do something and you still do it after the initial excitement and fervor to do it are long gone. If you look for emotions to help you to stay disciplined, you will come up shorter than Bushwick Bill (another 90’s reference) with no shoes on…we’re all shorter with no shoes, right? By committing to a routine, you just don’t have to think about it. You know what you have to do to be successful, so you just get up and do it. You don’t debate it. You don’t brood over it. You just get up and get it done. It becomes second nature, and the proof will be in the pudding…what does the hell does that even mean anyway? It’s amazing how many things we say everyday that don’t really make sense, but we just say them anyway. Here’s where the original thought came from BTW if you were wondering like I was.
III. They make decision making easier.
This is probably the most important aspect of routines. In life, we are often faced with choices that may seem inconsequential at the time, but, generally, every “small” decision we make leads to bigger outcomes in our lives. Routines allow you to have a focus that will prevent you from doing a lot of things that will deviate from your ability to be successful. If you have a routine to wake up at 5 am every day, then when someone asks you to take that shot at 9:30 pm to “keep the party going” (maybe one of D.L. Hughley’s funniest moments ever), you know that’s going to make it real hard to stick to your routine, so you abstain. If you work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon after work, then hitting up the happy hour spot with 5:30 pm with everyone from the office just isn’t in your plans for the day. When you’re having a rough day and just want to cut out early to “get a break,” your routine of completing a certain amount of tasks that day will make your body stay and complete it even though your mind wants you to leave and go home (that’s semi another 90’s reference, but you’ll just have to figure that one out yourself).
In the end, you can say what you want about routines, but they are the habits of champions. While there are so many things that can deter us from the path of success in life, routines can be your consistent guide to help you stay focused on the actions that will get you closer to your long term goals and keep the things that can detract you away. And while I’m not saying they will guarantee your overall success at everything you do, they will definitely help separate you from those who react to life based on emotions and the influences of others and those who create their life based on their standards and routines.