Routines serve a purpose but can also hold us backCarolyn Baana of Breakthrough Strategies says we wake up with a certain amount of willpower each day and every decision we make depletes it. If you have peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning, for example, it becomes routine and one less decision you have to make.
By: Meredith Holt, Forum News Service
FARGO — Carolyn Baana of Breakthrough Strategies says we wake up with a certain amount of willpower each day and every decision we make depletes it.
“When something in our life becomes habit or routine, we don’t think about that decision anymore,” says the Fargo-based business performance coach.
If you have peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning, for example, it becomes routine and one less decision you have to make.
“It seems boring, but you might end up at the office with more energy when you make fewer decisions before you get there,” she said.
Similarly, you don’t expend much mental energy brushing your teeth because you don’t make the choice to do it — you just do it.
Not all routines are benign, however.
“If it’s a routine to pick up your kids from school and go through a drive-thru because it’s easy and you don’t even think about it, that’s a bad routine,” Baana said.
Whether their outcomes are good or bad, sometimes we don’t realize our behaviors have become routines because they’re so automatic.
Every routine was new at one point, but they don’t always continue to serve us well, Baana says.
To reassess a routine, ask yourself, “Am I choosing to do this? Or am I doing it because it’s just what I do?”
In a business setting, she said adhering too closely to routine can squash creativity.
Operating strictly under the notion that “this is just the way we do it” can prevent progress, both professionally and personally.
Fargo-based life coach Jodee Bock says interrupting established routines can break monotony, allowing for new ideas, opportunities, experiences and perspectives.
“We are living our lives half asleep most of the time because we’re in those routines and we’re in those patterns, not always positively,” said Bock, of Bock’s Office Transformational Consulting.
If you’re trying to break a habit or change a routine, Baana advises monitoring yourself by keeping track of what you do and when you do it.
“If you write it down for yourself, that gives it more power and it gives it more clarity,” she says.
In her consultant work, Bock helps clients determine the “why” — why they want to change.
“Most of the time, when people set goals or decide they want to do something, they get stuck in the ‘how,’” she said. “If you get a big enough ‘why,’ the ‘how’ shows up.”
There’s a reason self-help and how-to books top the best-seller lists — everyone’s seeking the “how” — but without a “why,” most “hows” will be short term.
“Until I find my ‘why,’ nobody else’s ‘how’ is going to work for me,” Bock said.
‘How’ comes naturally
For Kelsy Pulvermacher, the “how” came naturally because the “why” depended on her for all of her needs.
When she and her boyfriend had their daughter 6 months ago, like any new parents, they were forced to change their routines.
“It drastically changed from being able to do whatever I wanted to having to do whatever she wanted, and obviously she’s a little more important,” the 23-year-old Fargo woman said.
Because of little Gracie, among other things, Pulvermacher has had to change her sleep patterns and spending habits.
They get up multiple times a night, and they go out to eat and to the movies less to save money for things such as diapers and baby formula.
“Everyone knows that a baby’s expensive, but you don’t know how expensive they really are until you have one,” she said.
But they’ve adapted, and she said it’s worth it.
“When you become a parent, you just do it. I don’t know how else to explain it,” Pulvermacher said. “Any parent would probably say the same thing.”