Between a long and noisy spring break (not a break for me), being wiped-out sick and then wiped-out sick again, and having to put my beloved cat to sleep, I have been experiencing a serious lack of motivation over the last few weeks.
The ideas are not firing. The words are not coming. The spirit is not finding me.
I keep starting newsletters and abandoning them because they stink. You’re out of metaphors, Judi: just give up, I tell myself.
I’ve been meeting my deadlines, because that’s what I do. But everything around me feels far away. Like there is a layer of dust covering my neurons.
Let’s put it this way: I’m reading a biography about Charlotte Bronte’s life, and it’s so depressing that I relish sinking into it every night. I fall asleep with images of the haunting, windswept moors in my head.
I am a sad sack.
But the real problem is not the kids being home too much. Or feeling like crud for weeks on end. Or even missing my cat.
It’s the disruption in my routine. And that is the only reason I decided to muster the energy to open a Word document and start yet another newsletter.
Because the business of writing (the business of succeeding in just about anything) is about routine.
A, B, C, D, repeat, repeat, repeat.
When Did Routine Become a Bad Word?
The word “routine” gets a bad rap. “Routine” procedures and proceedings are mundane, safe, and unsurprising. As a noun, we use routine synonymously with rut. As an adjective, we use it to mean boring.
The connotation of “routine” suggests that it’s something that might trap you. Like a crater in the earth, you might “fall” into a routine if you’re not careful.
I’ve noticed there’s a lot of advice out there about “busting out of your routine,” as if the sheer act of not following a routine will dramatically improve your life.
I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to that. If you have a routine of eating donuts, drinking soda, and screaming at your spouse every night, busting out of that routine can only help you.
What about busting back into a routine though? Where is the advice about that? Why does no one talk about the delight of crawling back into your crater after a series of unhappy surprises, random sadnesses, and unusual frustrations?
Doing A, B, C, and D over and over again with regularity is the only clear route to amazing and extraordinary that I’ve ever understood. So many people talk a good game, but it all falls apart in the details. In the mundane. Their genius can’t possibly be organized into a routine.
Mine is useless without it.
I used to worry that I was a boring, predictable person. That my proclivity for routine was a limiting quality.
But the older I get, the more I see that routine is my saving grace. And without it, I am overwrought, overburdened, and under-motivated. Having a daily routine, a weekly routine, and a career routine: that’s what has allowed me to venture out and learn new things.
I fully believe in muses and signs and universal forces. I’m all over that stuff. I also believe in the beauty of A, B, C, D, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Routines don’t keep people stuck. They provide the foundation to grow and the confidence to tackle challenges.
I write all of this to remind myself that I can find my routine again, because it is my routine to seek routine! Routine-oriented people are wired like fractals. We are routines inside of routines inside of routines.
No one has ever called a fractal boring.