We Are Creatures of Habit

Am I like most people? I feel the need to be seen as a “go with the flow” or “spontaneous” person. I want to be seen as flexible and not tightly wound. Sadly, that is all a lie though.

I like my schedule and you should too. I try to get to sleep by 11PM and up by 7AM. My girlfriend works until late at night so although I would prefer to get up earlier I simply would not be able to last all day. My schedule typically goes as follows: I get up in the morning, fix a breakfast and green tea, go for a walk, and then get back and stretch. It’s the best thing for me in the morning and I have figured out that until I can sit down at a computer to work for a solid 2-3 hours there is no reason to read emails, news, social media, or work related items. And this works for me, if something else entirely works for you then you should do it. It’s your way of managing your life.

A lot of people I see and talk to have trouble finding a set routine that they can take anywhere. Either they are too focused on eating a specific thing at a specific time or they need to do yoga and a cold bath immediately before bedtime. It sounds weird, but it’s their style. Whenever I travel my routine is definitely harder to keep up, but I have become quite good at it. The few things I have learned are:

  1. Develop a set of fundamentals. These are the actions you MUST take to feel complete. Mine are obviously my morning routine. If I do not start out on a regular foundation than I feel off-balance and the rest of my day is shot. It’s a terrible attribute at times, but I have come to know and understand exactly what my body needs to function. Whether you are a morning, middle of the day, or night person know what will make you feel whole, satisfied, and stable. Try to name four items that you cannot function without. Mine are: time to myself, a good breakfast, physical exertion early in the day, and at least one goal to complete that day (professional or fun). This is the most important part to keep making it every single damn day.
  2. Develop an alternate to the norm. For me, this is read as “hungover”. Living in New Orleans brings about a lot of temptations. Building my own media company and being 25 years-old means that I live only off of temptations and networking. I am typically good and cutting back during my busiest weeks, but I know the days when I wake up, cotton-mouthed and red-eyed, that my day will be very different. Instead of a high impact boxing or swimming workout I opt for weight lifting. This takes virtually no mental function and keeps my nausea at bay but I can work all of my muscles and start up a sweat that carries over into the sauna and steam room. Depending on the severity of the hangover I will cook eggs and bacon instead of my usual morning smoothie. There is no reason to promote more nausea.
  3. Travel with your routine. Like I said, most people don’t want to admit that they are creatures of habit but it’s time to face facts—we are. Whenever I travel I want to see, touch, eat, drink, and meet everything and everyone. It’s a disease many travelers have, but a way to stay strong through a week long conference or 3-month long SE Asian romp is to have a mainstay. Whenever I travel I still love to walk first thing in the morning. I’ll walk to breakfast with friends or walk right after breakfast at my hotel/hostel. Running in the mornings is also a great way to see the sights, but for non-runners, or ill-equipped shoes just walk. It’s a great way to be out and about instead of in your room looking at a map.

Don’t knock your habits until you get a full grasp of them. Many times it’s the ritual of an experience that completes its application. And just remember

  • Don’t push your routine on anyone else. Especially loved ones.
  • Don’t freak out if not all your fundamentals are met. Simply shift to the experience to complete that ritual or supplement it with something similar.
  • Try to do your routine in various locations at home to test your travels skills. Instead of going to the gym, workout at home. Instead of eating by yourself in the office go out for lunch with friends.

Good luck and have fun!! It’s your life.

 

First written for Medium.