Quite often I hear people complaining about routine being one of the most boring and unfortunate things in the world. Commonly, people fussing about their work/life/relationship becoming a routine means that it lost its charm and excitement. But is it really the case?
Routine is generally known as a sequence of actions followed regularly. The definition per se does not sound too bad, really, but still it is not perceived very positively. There are many researches and articles introducing the benefits of routine to our productivity, creativity, mental and physical health. And yet they did not bring the revolution in human perception.
One of the most routine activities that come to my mind are sunsets and sunrises. The sequence of actions is always the same: every 24 hours the earth travels around the sun and as a consequence of that we see sunrises and sunsets. However, these are known to be one of the most amazing things in the world. Every evening people all other the globe make time to enjoy the beautiful performance of sun going down. Check #sunset on Instagram and you’ll know what I mean.
So how come having routine at work is something that everyone tries to avoid while universal routine is much appreciated? What is the main difference that makes the same process being so beloved and so hated at the same time?
In my practice I’ve observed that when people lose track of their purpose, they start noticing process. When they put too much concentration on the way they do (instead on the end result) routine becomes nearly unbearable. They get so bothered and unhappy that they forget why they are doing it at all.
The reason for us doing things we do is always related to some sort of a purpose: it either serves ourselves or the world around us. If we look at the routines related to eating, exercising, meditating, etc. we notice that they all serve to our well-being purpose. We realize that by doing these things (however repetitive they are) we contribute to our mental or physical health. In the meantime, activities that we perform at work serve to others: our customers, colleagues and/or the entire society. Hence Fact No. 1: there is always a purpose.
Now with that in mind we also know that we are very busy. Our schedules are packed with too many activities however pleasant they are. Thus, very often many of us get so tangled into constant act of doing that we often forget to remember the purpose we serve. Now tell me, how many of you would be keen on doing meaningless or purposeless activities?
Keeping the focus on our purpose is crucially important, because it defines how much effort and energy we will be willing put into something. Every single one of us wants to be valuable. Every human being wants to know that he/she makes the difference in this world by doing something useful. That is the main reason why we choose certain education, career, volunteering activities. Once that focus point is lost, we start blaming routine (as if it wasn’t there before.
Every single job, every single activity has its own routine and that’s a given. It’s up to us whether we want to constantly complain about needing to do the same thing again and again or to use our imagination and focus on the added value that we create daily. The Fact No 2 is that there is no person in any organization who would not create any value. Every single one has its own place and role for a reason.
Even though it’s totally up to us to be able to see and realize our value, some of us sometimes struggle in this area. And when we start complaining about our job losing the sparkle or becoming boring/not enough challenging/you name it, what we’re actually saying is that we lost the sense of the value that we are creating. Many managers struggle to address this exact problem. They start giving people more challenging projects (for a short run it definitely helps) or put effort to add more variety into the day-to-day activities of someone (that’s not always the easiest). However, all they need to do is to help a person to see and realize the value he/she creates by being a part of the team.
When we feel in our place and we feel the weight of our contribution we more focus on the end-result and that is a Fact no 3.We want it to be the best of the best! And then the become the least of a trouble. Look at the sunset, have you seen exactly the same twice? I bet the answer is no. And it’s not because the earth constantly changes the sequence of actions 😊
To sum up, being bothered by routine is a sign that we lose focus from our main purpose and our own value. It can be a sign that, indeed, it is time for a growth or a bigger challenge but it can also be an indication to stop for a moment, turn awareness on and to consciously notice the benefits that each of us create by being who we are. We have all the power to decide where we want to put our concentration: suffering from boring routine or creating breath-taking results. The choice is always ours.