Routines can be very comforting. On most days I wake up, make coffee, pet the dog, read the news, and chat with my wife for a few minutes before really starting the day. I find this a perfect introduction to being conscious. Similarly, when I get to work I generally open my calendar, respond to any pressing emails, and put together a game plan for the workday. Both of these routines are beneficial for me and have become a sort of natural flow.
Other routines that are just as comfortable, however, might actually keep me from doing the things I want to do. Mondays and Fridays are not terribly dissimilar, as I generally follow the same routine on each of these days. Mondays in April look very similar to Mondays in October. Following the academic calendar is straightforward, with peaks and valleys occurring around the same time every year. There is a certain hypnotic rhythm about it.
I imagine that one could get lost in this rhythm, find five years elapsed, and be no closer to one’s long-term goals. While it would be nice to say this hasn’t happened to me in the past, the reality is that I spent the better part of six years in a corporate IT job and came out the other side having made only slight progress on my long-term goals. Perhaps my goals at that time were unfocused and slightly out of touch with reality, maybe they were the wrong goals, or maybe I just didn’t make time for them. At any rate, I don’t want to find myself in the same position in another five years.
The best solution to this problem that I can come up with is both obvious and simple: build “goal-reaching time” into my routine. I’ve been saying for years that I would like to write more, especially in this space. The only thing that will put words on this metaphorical page is writing them, and the only way to write them is to make time to write them. Like many people, I try to excuse my lack of effort via the “I don’t have enough time” retort, but I no longer believe this to be a legitimate excuse. Saying “I don’t have enough time” is the same as saying “I don’t value this thing enough to allocate time to it.” If I set attainable goals and truly valued them then I would spend time trying to reach them.