A routine is a habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure. In computer parlance, a routine is a sequence of computer instructions for performing a particular task. 1 The word routine is etymologically derived from two words route + one from the french routine “usual course of action, beaten path”, from route “way, path, course” + noun suffix -ine. 2 It is the customary course of action, more or less mechanical performance of certain acts or duties.
Show me your routine and I would show you who you are. How you do anything is how you do everything. As ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Your routine grounds and routes you. One of the major hallmarks of highly successful people is their daily routine. They show up daily, do first things first, they work in accordance with their priorities, value, and mission.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
Former Boxing heavyweight champion Joe Frazier once noted “You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your [preparation:]. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights.” We get rewarded in public for what we diligently practiced in private. Frazier was right, your preparation through your daily routine, work ethic, and consistency makes the difference in the long run.
‘Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble. – W. H. Auden
The word connotes ordinariness and even a lack of thought; to follow a routine is to be on autopilot. But one’s daily routine is also a choice or a whole series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. 3
A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.
When you don’t have much time, a routine helps you make the little time you have count. When you have all the time in the world, a routine helps you make sure you don’t waste it. What your daily routine consists of is not that important. What’s important is that the routine exists. Cobble together your own routine, stick to it most days, break from it once in a while for fun, and modify it as necessary. 4
Relying on craft and routine is a lot less sexy than being an artistic genius. But it is an excellent strategy for not going insane. —Christoph Niemann
In his 2014 University of Texas Commencement Speech, Four-star retired United States Admiral William H McRaven advised the graduating students to lay their beds. Engaging in this small task has a significant impact on other areas of life. He noted:
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
Success is never an accident, it is a series of good decisions made daily. Overnight success is a myth, it usually takes working hard in the dark for a long period of time and getting rewarded in the bright light. Integrity is what you are doing when no one is watching such as writing the blog post for 3-5 years even though the traffic is not forthcoming, uploading your songs to SoundCloud when no one is listening yet, working out in the gym daily, building your business relentless when no one is paying attention yet. Your routine would make weathering the storm easier.
Your routine shows up in every area of your life. Success can be somewhat boring as you have to do something continuously over a long period of time. You will need to sharpen the saw, show up daily, trust the process and relentlessly execute. As martial artist, Bruce Lee once observed “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
The above statement is very true for every facet of life. I am constantly trying to learn new things such as swimming, basketball, yoga, meditation, badminton, computer programming, etc. What I have observed with trying a lot of activities whether an intellectual activity or a sports challenge, is that you have to practice continuously and repeat the drills until it becomes second nature. Your routines would ground you and when the time comes to perform in public, you deliver.
Mastering any craft requires staying consistent over a long period of time but in the end, it is all going to be worth it.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.