A routine can keep our life structured and moving forward, but at what point does a predictable pattern harden into a ruinous rut?
Olena Kachmar / 123RF Photo
Routines are a good thing. They make it easier to get things done, create a certain order in our lives and keep the planets in our universe spinning happily in orbit. Routines are a great way to be efficient and effective, but there’s just one problem: Given enough time, they harden into ruts. It’s not easy to see exactly when that happens. It’s a gradual process, but here are the symptoms: a refusal to engage in spontaneous activities, an overwhelming sense of responsibility and the realization that you haven’t laughed out loud in a very long time.
Luckily, there’s a cure. A vacation is probably the best rut-buster there is. The Italians block off the entire month of August to have a vacation. Whole cities shut down, and it’s impossible to stay in a rut because bustling towns are transformed into virtual ghost towns since everyone leaves for the seashore.
Such a plan seems crazy to most Americans and certainly for single people who are the sole wage earners in their households. Breaking away from work for two weeks seems perilous; 30 days would be downright crazy. Even when we know we desperately need a break, the realization that there will be additional effort at the front end and extra work to catch up on when we return, can cause endless vacation procrastination.
So why even try to have a vacation? Well, for me, once that routine hardens into a rut, my creativity starts to dry up, my disposition sours, my ideas wither and all those parts of me that make life enjoyable begin to disappear. I become like one of those tired ponies on the wheel at amusement park: plodding forward, dutifully fulfilling my tasks and wondering why I can’t think of a headline for a story.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, wrote about the importance of refilling the well. By that she means replenishing our spirit with new experiences, allowing our senses to take in new stimuli by breaking out of our everyday routine so we can experience fresh sights, sounds, smells, tastes. It may seem like a luxury but, really, it’s a necessity. Imagine the difference between a bubbling brook and a stagnant pond. Which would you rather drink from?
So whether it’s a spontaneous decision to go see a movie or taking the adventure trip of a lifetime, I’m going to allow myself to refill the well and make sure my routine doesn’t turn into a rut … well … just as soon as get through all the work that’s sitting on my desk …
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.