The Liberation of Routine

set of multi-colored arrows

“It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

~ John Steinbeck


I’m not the type of person who thrives on routine. In fact, routine often makes me feel like I’m stagnating — as if I’m running endlessly in a human-sized hamster wheel slowly going nowhere.

Over the years, I’ve known people whose lives are so routine that nearly every second of their day is completely predictable, and they could tell you right now exactly what they’ll be doing in a month from now or even a year from now. It’s different strokes for different folks, and some people love every minute of their routine-filled existence. They flourish under a hyper-controlled environment.

I’m definitely not one of those people. I prefer a little mystery — a bit of variety.

But there’s one thing that I’ve learned about routine that may seem contradictory but is nonetheless true. It’s that having a routine can actually be quite liberating and charts the path for more exciting and completely non-routine things. In other words, it’s an avenue to freedom.

How can this be?

Think of it like this. There are a myriad of unenjoyable, sometimes incredibly unpleasant things that we have to take care of on a daily basis just to maintain our basic existence. Some examples might include brushing your teeth, washing the dishes and taking out the trash.

None of these chores are what I would call exhilarating, but they’re nonetheless essential unless you want to eventually have the equivalent of meth mouth or have your home take on the look of a hoarder’s.

These mundane but important tasks are necessary for keeping our lives intact and ensure that we can function properly as humans.

Here’s where a bit of routine comes in. Having some set patterns in place as we navigate throughout each day streamlines these unpleasant tasks so that we can complete them while expending minimal time and energy.

By creating a routine, we can bulldoze right through them so that we can ultimately get to the good stuff quicker. Having an efficient system means that we take care of the boring essentials with minimal friction and strife. This frees up much of our time and enables to do more of the things we actually enjoy. So in this sense, we can find a sense of liberation through routine.  

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