Wake up, get breakfast, get dressed, go to work, come home, watch tv, go to bed, repeat.
The pattern of normal life can be so mundane that it’s no wonder that job satisfaction in this country is dropping. Routines have to be a big part of it. The cycle that we all fear will one day consume us.
It’s all to do with that feeling of pressure on your shoulders, the feeling that the world is watching your every move and judging you accordingly. That paranoia that says if you stop working 9-5, then your income will drop and your life will become something that isn’t worth persisting with. The fear of failure and change outweighs the excitement of trying something new. And that’s completely understandable.
I wrote that paragraph without fully understanding it. I’ve never had a 9-5 Monday-Friday job. I’ve done work experience before, where I’ve sampled that lifestyle, but I’ve never done it come rain or shine, come hale or sleet. However, I’ve watched people. People I love, people I respect, who have struggled with it. Strong people, people I admire, who want to pack it in because they hate the commute, or the people, or simply the sheer boringness of life.
With those insights, I can tell that routines are part and parcel of everyday life. The word routine itself is usually viewed as a negative. Nobody wants to settle for the same pattern every day, do they?
There have been many articles like this in the past. They tell you to arrive at work an hour earlier and sample the atmosphere at that time, or, my worst nightmare, to talk to a stranger a day. Whatever they suggest, the advice is the same: break the routine.
But, in truth, routines can be very useful for some people. Take me, for example. A routine is my, and believe me I hate using the term – I’ve sat here for ten minutes and am yet to think of anything better, “safe space”. Without them I really struggle. I tend to get anxious, stressed even, and start thinking something is very wrong.
We have our routines, Emma and I. Simple routines that can remain when we get more permanent jobs. We wake up around six, we go to bed around nine and try to stay off technology until we fall asleep around ten. On days when she isn’t at university, we fit in a walk in the morning, have lunch around twelve and spend the afternoon working. As you know already, we do the same runs every week, usually on the same days – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday.
This is strikingly similar to a working week, albeit without the stress that said weeks bring. I’m no biologist, nor am I anywhere regarding an expert in the area, but it strikes me that routines are hard-wired into human code. That following advice to break routines is impossible because eventually we’d resort to type and start living the same day over and over again.
Understanding the devastating effect this can have on self-esteem, I’m not going to tell you to break the routine. Instead, I’ll encourage you to embrace it. Everything is different on a given day anyway.
Take when I worked at The Cricketer for two weeks as an example. To get to their offices, I walked with my sister from my Dad’s house to the Oval tube station. It was the same physical walk every day, usually with the same people, but there was always a different atmosphere, a different feel.
Some of these are obvious, like the weather, some less so, like the body language of the people walking with us. But the crucial thing to remember is that something is different. Why do I mention this? I admit it’s beginning to look like the advice articles telling you to break the routine, but hear me out. If you feel ground down by the numbness of the routine, just remember that everyone around you feels the same and hold on to the belief that every day will be different.
Embrace the routine by noticing the differences. Embrace it by taking comfort in the similarities.
We aren’t a self-help blog, or at least we don’t try to be. Our aim is to use our own experiences to shape how we live our lives and then write down our findings to allow people to formulate their own ideas and opinions based on the back of them.
And with that in mind, we reach the crux of this article. Routines are the exact opposite of a fad – they are permanent. The fad is trying to break them. And, as we know, fads don’t last. And then we sink back, negatively, to our old self. So the quicker you realise there is no point trying to break the everyday routine, the better. Because only then can you find your own way of embracing it.