We all have routines. We all have habits. The human brain is designed to constantly look for shortcuts and ways to do more without exerting extra energy. Habit and routine allow us to do more with less work from our brain.
Most people only explore habit and routine when there is a problem. They want to stop the bad habit of eating junk food while watching TV or they want to wake up earlier so they can start exercising.
Therefore, most people take on a negative mindset towards habit and routine. They see these as problems that need to be corrected. They don’t see the opportunity in our brain’s ability to function in this way. They don’t see that the right habits and routines can actually make life better, not worse.
In 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson, the author says, “The body, with its various parts, needs to function like a well-rehearsed orchestra. Every system must play its role properly, and at exactly the right time, or noise and chaos ensue. It is for this reason that routine is so necessary. The acts of life we repeat every day need to be automatized. They must be turned into stable and reliable habits, so they lose their complexity and gain predictability and simplicity. This can be perceived most clearly in the case of small children, who are delightful and comical and playful when their sleeping and eating schedules are stable, and horrible and whiny and nasty when they are not.”
But most of us don’t optimize our routines and habits. Instead we simply want to follow instant gratification and fight against any sort of regularity. We want things to be exciting and new. We want fresh, not stale.
But in this attempt to have excitement and positive change we actually limit our ability to sustain any real improvement. We create chaos because we rebel against order.
If we want to, instead, keep improving through life we have to change our approach. To get better we have to form better habits. We have to design our routines.
If we don’t deliberately design these and leave them to chance, we are much more likely to fall into a rhythm that creates negative habits and routines. We make a poor decision today and then a similar poor decision tomorrow. We assume we can just change sometime in the future; meanwhile we keep reinforcing these negative behaviors until they become automatic.
Some people have followed these routines and habits and find themselves successful and happy. If this isn’t you, then look to change your routines and habits. As you do you will start to build confidence and realize the great power of habit.
Find some small changes to make to your routine and do them long enough and certainly they will become so automatic that it is easier to keep going with them than to stop and do something different. This is the same for good and bad habits so work hard to form good habits and routines and get away from bad ones as quickly as possible.