Tell me your routine and I’ll tell you who you are.
Do you know what your routine is?
Humans are creatures of routine, says Psychology Today.
Routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg says,
“Routines are the organizational analogue of habits.”
Today, my routine is like many others in the past 6-months since I lost my full-time job.
It’s a day where I define where I go and what I do.
It’s a day where I wake up and have an open agenda.
It’s a liberating day.
It’s also a paralyzing day.
On this particular Thursday, I’m at the front desk of my co-working space in Toronto, Make Lemonade. I’m listening to upbeat music, and hearing the faint sounds of a meeting (all women) happening behind me. I’m surrounded by uplifting colours of pastel pink, vibrant yellow, and white. The vibe is mellow. It’s the middle of July, so a lot of us are on vacation — on lakes, trips, siestas, and trying to survive the 40+ degree heat that’s descended on the city.
So that’s where I am, and what I’m doing.
Whatever it is you ARE doing — it’s part of your routine.
And you’ve decided it should be that way.
After all, everything we do is a choice. Past actions or events led us to where we are today. Wherever we may be.
Today, I’m at the co-working space — but tomorrow, where I’ll be is anyone’s guess. This prospect is both unsettling and exhilarating.
My current routine is not having a routine.
And let me tell you..
All at the same time.
The latter part — the chance for it to feel exhilarating— is why I chose not to pursue a new full-time job immediately after I lost my last one.
I didn’t have a great reason not to look for another job.
I don’t have 30 years’ experience in my field. I wasn’t far along in my career (still am not), I didn’t have a big title or even a business idea. I didn’t really have anything other than a vague idea of what I wanted to be doing, an idea about my passions, and a place I’ve picked (Toronto, for now).
Here’s what I knew:
- I was craving flexibility in my routine
- The day-to-day grind felt limiting
- I needed to explore creatively
- The idea of being able to work from a new location every day excited me
- I felt stuck and wanted to be open to new things
I lost my job on February 3. The timing could not have been worse.
It was the dead of winter. The sun rose on my morning commute and set before I stepped foot onto the street to head home. I moved into a never-ending sea of people surrounded by darkness. It could not have been a more depressing time of year to find myself unemployed.
So with the bad timing and all — I didn’t look for full-time work.
Since then, I’ve lacked a ‘traditional’ routine.
There were many mornings I have laid in bed without a clue what I would do with my day. Sometimes I felt excited — I could take a dance class, I thought! But then I wouldn’t do these things because they weren’t “making me money”.
Without a traditional routine, I have at times felt stuck. Paralyzed. Uninteresting. Boring. Like a loser.
And feeling this way, watching the rest of you go by (always going so fast) has been difficult. Toronto doesn’t stop. And while I’ve been stopped, I’ve felt like I don’t fit in here.
I’ve realized that despite not having an office I frequent every day, there are still constants about me and my life.
As it turns out, I have a different kind of routine.
It’s not that I wake up, run, meditate, or go to the same office daily.
My routine is what I bring to each experience and each day.
My routine is deciding the type of person I am going to be — and then acting on it. In each moment and to each person.
My routine is to be open. To learn. To experience. To love. To share.
I’m always learning. I commit to this. I’m taking a course at the University of Toronto right now. But my routine with learning is greater than just one course.
I’m open to new possibilities. I ask questions. I engage. I’m interested.
I’m damn proud of this — and of me.
I don’t know where I’ll be most days. My routine is a mystery.
But in the words of a friend of mine,
“I never knew the kind of job I wanted to have.
I only knew the person I wanted to be.”
Until I figure out the former, my routine is going to be the latter. Who I am. What I bring. How I learn. How I make you feel.
And that’s the best routine I can think of.