Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Routine (or, you know, whatever).

One of my goals for this year is to find a good balance between flexibility and structure.

I seem to be caught in this loop lately: I realize that I need to give myself lots of choices and keep things very flexible, or else I start to feel boxed in or trapped or confined by "have to's" and start rebelling; but, leaving things too flexible leaves me too much room to not do anything at all, so I start trying to structure things (flexibly, with lots of choices) to make sure I'm doing something... then the structure feels too "have to" (for example: I don't want to have to do something from this list, or I don't want to have to record it on a spreadsheet), and I rebel and realize I need more flexibility and choices, then I do nothing, then I realize I need to structure it somehow... My goal for this year is to figure this out, somehow, whether it means finding some way to not feel so trapped by structure, or finding a more flexible way to structure things.

Or, perhaps I simply need to change my terminology.

It occurred to me one day when we'd just gotten home from shopping, and I asked my son to wash his hands. "After shoes and coat!" he informed me as he was running to his room. I started to argue, as we've been having the "Please do what I ask, when I ask it" conversation a lot lately, but my husband intervened. "That's his routine," he said. "First he changes his shoes, then he takes off his coat. Then he'll wash his hands."

A light bulb went on. "Routine." I started playing with that. What's my routine? Do I even have a routine? I set down my purse, take off my coat, kick off my shoes... and then what? And it occurred to me, what if I were to simply make the things I have a hard time following through on a part of my routine?

So I've been experimenting with this. I walk in the door, set down my purse, turn on the dryer (to knock the wrinkles out of the load that will invariably be sitting in it from a previous day), take off my coat (and hang it), take off my shoes (in the bedroom, and put them away), and then fold some clothes. As part of my routine. Not because I have to, not because it's on my schedule, not because I need to make a checkmark on a spreadsheet, but simply because that's my new thing now. It's my routine. It's just what I do.

And magically, the laundry isn't piling up. In fact, I'm running out of empty hangers.

The fact that the litter box is next to the washer and dryer allows me to add into my routine, checking to see if the litter box needs to be scooped. If it does, well, that just gives the dryer another few minutes to knock the wrinkles out of the clothes.

Amazing what a simple word replacement can do for the way you think of something.

I used to know someone who had issues with "Why?" but could very curiously and happily ask, "How come?"

What about if you want to make healthier food choices but don't want to go on a "diet"? What if, instead, you were to "give your body more appropriate fuel"? Or what if you chose to "experiment" by seeing how your body reacts when you eat different foods, and then choose how you want your body to feel?

What is something you're stuck on right now? Is there a particular word associated with it that really makes you cringe? What different word could you use, that could feel better and work better for you?


Something I work on with clients is finding an empowering way to phrase what you want to do, and finding an appropriate way to measure getting there. If this is something that may interest you, I'm currently offering a 10% discount off your first payment when you decide to coach with me. For more information visit

1 comment:

fredi Baker said...

Brilliant!!! I love the idea of having a writing routine. No big deal, just do it. Everyday...