Let’s talk about routines. Your routine. It could be a practice schedule, a work week, an exercise plan, eating habits – anything that you have to, or choose to, stick to in your day-to-day life. There are certain points in life where this routine is disrupted. It could be the holidays, when you broke your habit of eating only gluten-free in order to enjoy your grandmother’s delicious, and completely gluten-filled, Christmas cookies. Maybe you take off of work in order to go on a vacation with friends or family. Or perhaps it’s an off-season from your sport, or a gap between semesters at school. This time away from routines can be healthy. It can be good for you physically and emotionally to take a break every once in a while, whether it be an actual vacation or simply a lull where you learn to say ‘no’ and focus on self-care. Whatever a “time-out” from your regular schedule looks like, it is a disruption of your routine and there will, most likely, come a point where you have to come back down to earth, shake the vacation sand from your shoes, and try to get back into a routine. This can be tough, so here are 3 things you can do to make the transition back into routine a little easier.
Choose a refreshed mindset, rather than one that is worn out, nostalgic, or resistant. As tempting as it may be to let your mind remain at the beach while your body is back at your desk, or back at the gym, or back on the field, it will be more beneficial for you to acknowledge the time that you had off/away and choose to feel refreshed by it. That way you can be “all there” in whatever you do. Try to use your “time out” as momentum that propels you into a more productive state. Think of all that you’ve gained from this period of separation from the “real” world. Maybe you spent time nurturing your body and/or soul – use that to allow yourself to feel ready for the work load ahead. Did you get to spend time with the people who matter the most to you? Use those memories to remind you of what’s important and why you do what you do. So when choosing your mindset – because it is, in fact, a choice – choose to feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to get back to it.
Be consistent. After all, that’s what routine is. Set small goals and create a plan for reaching them every day. Don’t try to take on too much too soon, or jump into goals that are too far down the road. If you consistently reach the day-to-day goals that you set for yourself, you will be on a path to mastering that routine once again. Remember that good habits can be difficult to form and easy to break, while bad habits are just the opposite. Being consistent with the good habits will allow them to become a natural part of your routine and will actually leave less time for the bad habits.
Be better than before. Think about who you were prior to this recent “time-out” and pick one thing you’d like to improve about that version of you. Maybe you were a completely organized, motivated, reliable badass – in which case you may not feel the need to change or improve anything. But if we look closely enough, I would bet that most of us would come up with a few things that could use some fine-tuning. So what is it for you? Do you struggle with being late? Make it a goal to arrive 10 minutes early every day for a week. Try to form those good habits. Maybe you’ve had trouble with communication in the past; use this opportunity to expand your ability to express yourself, as well as become a better listener. Are you one who tends to procrastinate? This could be your chance to leave those habits in the rearview mirror. In order for this to be a successful process you will need to be honest with yourself, decisive in identifying what you want to improve upon, and committed to improving them.
Where are you headed right now? Are you picking up where you left off, or are you starting something completely new? Life is inevitably divided up into stages and phases, and maybe this recent break in routine is the signal for a new phase to begin for you. Think about what it is that you want to accomplish in this next stage/phase. You define the time-frame, and then make it happen.