Every day for lunch I eat a four-egg scramble with a handful of avocado pieces and five pieces of diced Oscar Meyer turkey breast, drizzled with Tapatio and Tabasco Sweet & Sour sauce. As a side I eat one piece of Oroweat Oatnut bread with strawberry jam. I drink one sparkling water and use one paper towel. I've done this for four years.
Is this the behavior of a serial killer, or do I just enjoy routine? The truth is I'm comfortable with the meal. My lunch isn't the only area this comfortability with routine shows up. The temperature I set the room to when I go to sleep, the order in which I dry off after a shower, which shoe I put on first. All of these are seemingly inconsequential, but what worries me is not what routines human beings have, but their inability to separate themselves from them.
We become the product of our routines. So what happens when life gives us something unexpected and we can't maintain our routines? Often times the answer is we completely fall a part.
My go-to order at Starbucks is a cold brew with one pump of vanilla and a splash of cream. Every now and then they'll give me iced coffee and not cold brew. If you're a coffee person you know these are NOT the same thing. A few weeks ago, my wife and I ordered coffee to start a long drive. A few minutes down the road I took my first sip and realized they'd given me iced coffee. I immediately grew frustrated and said, "Well, guess I won't be having coffee today."
My wife looked calmly and said, "What if instead of letting it ruin your entire day, you just learned to enjoy iced coffee?"
What if instead of letting the unexpected nature of life ruin our routine, we just adapted our routine to thrive in the unexpected?
It is beneficial to have routines that create progress in our lives, but we can't let a disruption to that routine prevent us from progressing. For those of us whose happiness and stability depends on routine, start looking for ways to disrupt yourself.
Start small. Change up the order you get ready in the morning. Add a different flavor to your coffee. Switch the radio station in your car.
If we wish to thrive in the unexpected, we have to be okay separating ourselves from our routines.
It's lunch time here in Arkansas. I think I'll go with ham today.
Make one change to your daily routine tomorrow. Note how you feel directly afterwards.
When or where does your routine get disrupted the most? How can you adapt your routine to get the same benefit in that time or place of disruption?
"Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken." - Warren Buffet