"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
You, me, everyone we know and don't know, all live with the same affliction. We all have a limited amount of time on this planet and, while I can't speak for everyone else; for me, it will always be too short. I always have new ideas, new visions, new things that I'd like to do. I also want to enjoy this charmed life of mine, watch the sunset, drink great wine, and not leave any potential awesomeness on the table. There is never really enough time.
For most of my life, I somehow thought that I should dislike routine. It was supposedly boring to have to follow the plan. Why couldn't we all just make things up as we go along?
It was only years later when I finally realized how powerful something like routine could be. As many of us do as we gain more life experience, we hopefully start noticing that certain things make us feel better and that certain things make us weaker. Getting a full night's sleep makes me feel better, staying up until four am drinking makes me feel terrible the next day.
Maybe it's that our bodies become more sensitive or that we simply become more aware. I'm not sure what changes. However, I'm likely to believe that we simply are in a never ending process of becoming better at being human. Spending time with very young children, it's amazing how few things they don't inherently grasp. Who is to say that sort of process stops? Maybe it just gets more subtle and refined over time, as we gain deeper and deeper insights into our own condition?
Anyway, my point here is that eventually I realized that for me, routine was the secret to almost anything that I want to accomplish. It was a simple equation. I do much better work when I feel like "x", therefore I do "y" to make sure I show up each day feeling that way.
This has led to me sleeping regular hours, stretching and meditating twice a day, and paying attention to diet on a whole new level. To some it might appear self absorbed, but it occurs to me that if I don't handle these details of my own life, nobody will. Focusing on such routine allows me to show up better for every person that I want to help.
Airlines, during the safety training and the beginning of the flight, always tell you to, in the event of the oxygen masks dropping, to make sure that you attach your own mask before helping your child. Thus it is in life. You need to put on the metaphorical oxygen mask on yourself first before extending yourself to help others.
Of course helping others is important. But you need to be able to serve them by being at your best. Routine is how you get there. It's an equation you and experiment with and tweak as you go on.
When it comes to work, like this podcast, my daily routine allows me to create things with a serious consistency which pays off in droves. I won't go into numbers, but this year is going to see the release of a ridiculous amount of work from me. All of it is powered by routine. By the daily practice of showing up and doing the work.
I was wrong when I was younger. Routine isn't boring. It's the magic spell that makes all things possible. The best part is that you can begin using it immediately. For instance, why not now?