On Rituals and Routines

A few weeks back I chanced upon an article about the importance of having both routines and rituals in our everyday lives. Routine is defined as things we do out of habit. These are the regular activities that we do on autopilot. These give our days and nights some semblance of order, a stable platform that keeps us sane despite the shifts around us. It is what sets our rhythm.

On the other hand, rituals are things that we do to make the mundane into extraordinary experiences. Doing these seemingly ordinary activities lends magic into our everyday lives. It may be as simple as having a weekly alone time over lunch or having slow Sunday brunch with the family or just a quick drink with the hubby before going back to the household grind. For me these rituals are a form of reset that renews us as we navigate our day to day lives.

For the past month, I was reminded of how important routines and rituals are. The past weeks have been a bit trying and I found myself feeling “unhinged”. Starting a business, getting sick, traveling, moving offices- I think all these happening in the same month was a little too much for someone whose natural tendency is to seek order in chaos. I realized how much of a creature of routine I am and how much I have to learn in terms of being comfortable with being uncomfortable, especially now that I am starting something new. So as I try to reboot, I would like I share some insights that have guided me through this process.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself.

It’s easy to just try to brute force your way back to routine. I tried this with my marathon training and it backfired on me. I missed training days due to different changes in my schedule and so I tried to pack it all into the remaining days or time that I had. I ended up feeling the first signs of burn out and I eventually got sick. I think getting sick was a blessing in disguise that forced me to rest. Otherwise my stubbornness would just leave me pounding on and risking full burn out that may even cost me optimal performance for a very important race.

Take It A Day at A Time

Things will not all be okay at the same time. Start with one thing then progress from there. For me it started with just waking up at the same time as I was used to since this routine was also affected by getting sick and traveling. I felt that this would be a strong first step to get back to my routine since having proper rest and waking up at the same time sets the tone of the day. I realized that rest is absolutely important in this reset and in our lives in general. I can go on and on about how rest and proper sleep has helped in building performance and productivity.

Find an Anchor Event to Reset

My daughter’s birthday reminded me of the importance of rituals. It never was our practice to spend on parties and instead we just go on a trip to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries or other important occasions. This yearly ritual is a strong reminder of things that are important and priorities that we choose over others. We also were fortunate to be treated to a birthday brunch at Il Ponticello this year and I think that this is another birthday ritual that we would like to continue. We love having slow leisurely breakfast on weekends and having this on special occasions makes it extra special.

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Fun birthday Brunchisssimo at Il Ponticello for my little girl’s 4th birthday

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Birthday girl makes her own Pizza Santino. The little personalized note is a really nice touch.

Remember Your Intent

When things are not clear or not going as planned, it’s always good to go back to the reason why you are doing something. Purpose is strong, sheds clarity and reinforces direction. Such is the case with my new career direction. We are at a stage where we are figuring things out and no one is really telling us what to do or where to go next. It’s entirely up to us. This is both scary and empowering. Admittedly, it can also be overwhelming and keeping sight of the why really helps put things in perspective. It also helps “simplify”decision making because an initial purpose has already been defined.

Get Support

There is nothing like talking to someone who has been through a similar situation or who has navigated through unpredictable waters. It’s a good thing that I don’t have to seek far and wide for this support. The hubby is a good resource for my start up worries plus I keep very close friends who are very generous with their time and experience. The mere act of articulating what you are going through helps in getting unstuck.

So amidst the seemingly busy lives that we lead,  let us find time to stop and find our rhythm through routines and rituals that bring sanity to an otherwise crazy world.

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Spending birthdays in a new place is still my favorite ritual.

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