Is there a difference between sticking to your routine and being rigid? Absolutely. Having routines or rituals in our lives can be very useful. They help us stay on track and provide a built-in plan for all kinds of circumstances. But how do you know if your routine is becoming too rigid?
Its all about the locus of control. In other words, is your routine serving you, or are you serving it?
Building a routine around certain activities leads to the creation of good habits. And, consistency in those habits brings good results. But that “consistency” can be carried too far and that same activity can become counterproductive.
This occurs most often when we lose track of our original intention and only focus on the performance of the activity.
Here are some examples: Say that your original intention was to spend more time with your aging grandmother. So, you set aside time every Tuesday evening to stop by, bring dinner and visit for an hour or two. After a couple of months of pleasant Tuesdays, your work schedule changes, Tuesday nights become rushed and your mind is on all of the things that must be done for Wednesday morning’s meeting. But you still grab some dinner and grudgingly follow your routine, most likely as a distracted guest. From the outside perspective, it is obvious that there are several other choices, perhaps visiting a different night of the week, or sharing a phone call instead, for a couple of weeks, until your schedule evens out. But, sometimes when we are in the midst of the situation the alternatives aren’t so obvious. And, maintaining our routine becomes the intention rather than spending time with your grandmother.
The world of health and fitness provides many similar examples . We begin an exercise routine to benefit our health and then stick with that routine “come hell or high water”, even if we don’t feel well, or become injured, or the activities we selected prove to be less than ideal in the first place. We lose track of the health benefit and focus on counting miles or reps.
Another tell-tale sign that you might be crossing that line? Pay attention to how you feel. Maintaining a routine will typically bring a feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. Skipping a routine may bring brief feeling of disappointment or maybe even a little guilt. But, if missing something in your routine causes feeling of anxiety, then you probably have at least one toe over that rigid line.
So how can you monitor your routines and avoid becoming too rigid? Don’t forget the common sense! Keep your goals in mind. When in doubt, ask yourself if in performing your routine, you are accomplishing your original goal, or if the activity itself has become the focus.
How do you remain flexible while still working toward your goals? Please share.
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