Learning from Steinbeck – Routines

January 2, 2015

“It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.” Steinbeck said it, or wrote it. I’m guessing Steinbeck must have also had habits he wanted to break…or this was just a nice line for one of his manuscripts. Regardless, it rings true. If you’ve put in the hard work of creating a routine, it’s difficult to break those bonds.

Fortunately I don’t have a crack habit or any number of other daily addictions or patterns that are truly destructive. But I do have a few routines I’d like to break. One of the best ways – say experts who I can’t currently name – to change your habits for the better is to replace bad with good.

That’s what I’m planning to do. You’re welcome to use the examples in this post as a roadmap to help change your bad patterns into good habits. Let’s get started…

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 9.42.44 AM

Old = Staying in bed past 8am. I’m usually awake around 5 or 6, but I find it luxurious to drift back into a nap until 8:15 or 8:30.

New = I’m planning to mindfully rise from bed earlier when I realize I’m awake.

Old = Eating around the clock. In my case, this doesn’t hurt me from a weight perspective, but it affects my system. Having Crohn’s Disease affects me by making me visit the bathroom more frequently when my digestive system is moving. It moves more frequently if I’m constantly putting food into my pie hole.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 9.40.11 AM

New – Eat at regular meal times and be thoughtful about other opportunities to snack, and push those off until I’m actually having a meal.

Old = Viewing writing as a task instead of an opportunity. It’s my livelihood, but that sometimes makes writing a job instead of a pleasure. Like many writers, I use deadlines as motivation.

New = It’s only day two of 2015, but I’m trying to see writing more as a way to share my thoughts and get my other creativity pumped up. I’m still going to be motivated by deadlines, but I’ll try to beat them by half the time allotted when possible. Stuff that’s due four days from now will be treated as if the deadline is two days from now.

Old = Online addiction. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but I find it difficult to be disconnected from online social and business connections for large blocks of time. As many people do, I check mail constantly and am regularly using social media to communicate instead of building more robust IRL relationships.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 9.41.56 AM

New = Being. A friend of mine used to urge me (and this was before social media really took hold) to try to just BE. Live in the moment. Enjoy my tea. Breathe the air. Listen to the world. I’ll be trying to do that by setting up schedules when I immerse myself in technology and the Web and times when I am just being.

Old = Lacking empathy. Not in a psychopathic way, but spending more time thinking about what I want to say next, how someone’s situation affects me, how I feel about the world around me.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 9.40.34 AM

New = More listening and thinking about the stuff I hear from people. Trying to imagine how they feel about things and to truly empathize with what they’re experiencing. As a reporter (see, still talking about me), I should have the skill to listen and process information. I will do that more.

Old = Saying yes to everything. Trying to do everything and biting off more than I WANT to chew for fear it might make me seem negative or unhelpful. This is driven by the additional fear that I might not get another chance to be involved in a project, with a company, at an event. This stops now.

New – Saying no a lot more. And spending more time evaluating the return on my investment in people, places and things. Nouns, they’re fun. But seriously, I’ll be doing this so I have more time to be creative, to spend time with my family and to achieve my goals.

That’s it for now. I wanted to share this for two reasons. It’s another day of writing and a goal for this year is to write a blog post each day. The thought of breaking routine is important to me because it represents new paths, beginnings and destruction of ruts.

Let me know how you change your stuff up. Thanks!