If You're Ready To Give Up On *Routine,* Read This.

20.09.20 03:38 PM By Heather Kleinschmidt


Most people get habit-building wrong because they miss this one thing.


Why Routine?

There’s a purpose to routine.


It’s not to “do life right.”


It’s not to become some kind of a perfect robot-human.


The purpose of routine is to remove unnecessary effort from your day, so that you’re free to handle new and important challenges.


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What Does This Thing Do, Anyway?


It’s not good when we forget why we’re using a particular tool.


Tools are designed to meet specific needs. They’re meant to make life better in some particular way.


They might be repurposed creatively to meet new and unexpected needs…



The 1990s’ beloved seagull convinces a gullible mermaid that the purpose of a modern “dinglehopper” is for styling hair.




…But what they should never be is a staple in daily life that can’t be explained.


  • Valuable: Using a tool to accomplish its intended function.
  • Valuable: Repurposing a tool creatively to accomplish an alternative function.
  • Waste: Blind activity that doesn’t know why it’s doing what it’s doing.



The key is whether the tool is serving an intentional purpose.


Routine is a tool. Use it purposefully.


Otherwise, stop using it.


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New Things Are Hard

In life, part of your day consists of the familiar, and part of your day consists of the new.


New things require a lot of bandwidth.


That’s why we need a mechanism for reducing the burden of the familiar — so that bandwidth can be released to handle the new.


Enter, Routine.


When we’re in familiar space, routine is able to lighten the load. It’s able to shoulder the weight of the things we already know and understand.


This frees us up for the difficulty of navigating unfamiliar space.




Where Most People Fall Down


Most people try implementing new habits and routines because they’ve read somewhere that’s what successful people do.


But there’s a really important ingredient missing from this recipe…


👉 Successful people know what they’re aiming for.
👉 And then they build their lives to support that aim.


They construct a lifestyle that makes it easier for them to accomplish their goals. They relentlessly cut out the things that are not central to their aim. And they automate behaviors that would otherwise slow down their progress toward their goal.


The routine is secondary to the aim.


Building a routine or a new habit for the sake of having the habit is never going to stick.


There has to be something larger that you’re trying to accomplish. And then the routine has to serve that.


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Routines Are Awesome
Habits are good. Routine is good.


They’re good because they automate the ongoing implementation of work you’ve already done.


They’re good because they remove unnecessary decisions from your plate, freeing you up for novel challenges.



If Your Routine Isn’t Working For You, Try This
Identify your aim. And then set your routines up to support that.


The ultimate purpose of your habits is to allow you to take on new challenges, so you can make things better in the world.


Intentional habit-setting is there to improve your life by lightening your load, not to lay a new burden on it.


New things require a lot of bandwidth. In order to take on those new challenges and make things better, we need to do something about everything else that’s going on. Routine is able to shoulder that responsibility.


But routine is useless if you don’t know why you’re doing it. If it’s not serving something, then it’s not serving anything.


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P.S. The best resource on habit-building I know of is James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. You can buy it here (not an affiliate link — I just like telling people about good stuff). Last I checked, there was a 50% discount on it.



Each week, I do a deep-dive into the question of living meaningfully.

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