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FAQ: Why Routines Are For Suckers

Uncategorized Aug 04, 2022

The 'bookends' of the day tend to be the most problematic when it comes to relapses. Whether it's morning glory or nighttime thunder, it is clear that if you can win the morning and the night, you will make huge steps towards lasting freedom.

But truthfully, the ultimate resolve of regular morning or nighttime relapses is encompassed in one word: Rhythm.

The rhythms (not routines) of our life dictate much of our behavior, whether we like it or not. Rhythms don't have to be rigid and rote, although for some that is probably a good approach. The key with rhythms is that they can be done consistently and allow room for flexibility when appropriate.

My morning rhythm is pretty simple Monday-Friday. I wake up, take a cold shower, go for a walk/talk to God, read the Bible or journal, and then spend about 90 minutes doing "deep work" on my business. 

However, the last couple of weeks I have been feeling more fatigue physically and mentally. So I have been prioritizing sleep and that means instead of getting my usual 7 hours, I'm sleeping 7.5-8 hrs/night. The two most important things in my morning rhythm are connecting with God and doing deep work. So admittedly, I haven't read my Bible/journal that much the last while because I'm choosing to get more sleep.

Eventually my body and brain will catch up and I can go back to my usual rhythm, but in the meantime, I've made a few small adjustments that allow me to preserve my priorities in the morning while also tending to a pressing need in this current season (more sleep). People who obsess over routines cannot handle this approach because as soon as you make adjustments, you have "broken routine." Don't fall for the trap. Routines are for beginners, but experts pursue rhythms. 

Nighttime is just as important (if not more). Most of my relapses took place at night, so to be frank - I am a bit more rigid with my nighttime rhythm. There is still room for flexibility, but I know that if I veer too far off the path, I am going to be more vulnerable. This is why self-awareness is our first pillar of recovery - having this kind of personalized intel allows you to consistently make decisions that enhance, protect, or further your recovery.

Here are a few things to consider for your nighttime rhythm:

-When will you stop watching screens? There should be a hard cutoff time here because your brain will not secrete melatonin otherwise. Blue-light blocking glasses are a must if you intend to watch screens closer to your bedtime.
-Where are you going to charge your phone? If you answered anywhere in your bedroom, then try again :). Your phone should always charge in a separate room from the one you sleep in.
-What is going to calm your mind down the most effectively? Don't complicate things here. I don't know why, but when I read, I start to get tired. So guess what? After I put on my PJs and brush & floss my teeth, I read. Sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 25 minutes. And before you know it, my eyelids start to get heavy and I'm off to bed. It doesn't have to be reading, but there is at least ONE thing you can do that is going to calm your mind and allow you to fall asleep relatively quickly.

Whether it's morning or night, the benefit of intentional rhythms in your life are manifold:

1) Mentally Efficient - Doing the same thing every morning means there is little to no decision making taking place for the first chunk of your day. This is very good for your brain - it means more energy, creativity, and focus.

2) Keeps Priorities - Most people relapse in the mornings because they wake up aroused and then they engage in some behavior to further the arousal (social media being the prime suspect). A rhythm in the morning drives you to spend your time focused on the things that matter with little to no room for distractions.

3) Compound With Time - When you keep up with a rhythm for an extended period of time, the compounding effect kicks in. For me personally, years of doing deep work in the mornings so consistently has enabled me to build a healthy business in a relatively short period of time. Similarly, I've been spending time with God in the mornings on a regular basis since 2010 - the level of closeness, stability and excitement in my relationship with Him are some of the beautiful byproducts of making this part of my rhythm for so long.

The most important thing is to start, and make sure you start small. We are playing a long game here so we can harness the compounding effect, so incremental adjustments are what makes this the most feasible over long periods of time. If you want some input on your current rhythms, I'd love to help. Join our private community and tag me in your question. 

Cheering you on,

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