Updated: Jul 17
The Big Routine = My year of clawing and scratching my way to stick to a routine that will certainly solve all my problems. Updates posted weekly!
JULY 10-16. A Brief Assessment. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you make a decision to change the trajectory of your life, dumb stuff will happen—especially as you start out—to throw you off so you'll abandon your plan.
As much as human beings are built to grow, WOW do we face opposition when trying to make a positive change.
Has this ever happened to you? When you take the first step to improve your life, it sure seems like something pushes back, trying to make you maintain your status quo and stay in your comfort—even if your comfort zone is making you unhappy.
I've certainly experienced this, and so have many of my friends and people I've coached.
Of course, it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes I can start implementing a change and it goes fine. But it happens often enough that I wasn't exactly shocked when a BIG push back happened to me the first week of The Big Routine.
Here's how Week One of The Big Routine played out.
First, here's refresher on The Big Routine itself. This is what an ideal routine would look like for me, as conceived while on my trip to Colorado the first week of July (and first wrote about it here).
Get up at 5:45.
Leave my house at 6:00 for Dragonfly
Start work every morning at 6:30 am at Dragonfly.
End work at 4:30 pm.
Go to a coffee shop till 6:30 pm and work on my company/writing. DO NOT GO HOME.
Thursday night: when I do go home, do weekend chore sprints for the rest of the night.
Schedule lunch or coffee with someone.
Schedule something I’ll look forward to. Museum. Movie. Shopping (even if I don’t buy anything).
Lie around and play games on my phone while watching TV.
Do some arts and crafts.
Putz around my house.
Work for two hours each day on my company (optional, depending on mental health an other plans)
Do short sprints to finish up weekend chores.
The rest of the weekend is whatever I want.
Pretty much NONE of this happened this week. Lol. And by lol, I mean a combination of repeating ROFL and sobbing emojis are the best depiction of how I felt.
Of course, it takes time to adjust to a new routine. It's not about perfection, it's about building resilience and consistency. But I have to acknowledge that numerous bizarro, unexpected things arose this week as if to actively prevent me from following this routine at all!
I'll tell you all about it as I share my realizations of week one.
Realization One: My first week of The Big Routine clashed with things that were already on my calendar.
I had the idea for The Big Routine during my lovely trip to Colorado. It was so easy to idealize my new plan as I got break from real life. In fact, it was easy to forget about real life altogether, as if I would magically have a clean slate when I returned home!
It's not The Big Routine's fault that when I decided to pursue it, I already had plans that just did not fit into it. I didn't technically forget about the things I had planned...I just temporarily forgot about them while I was in vacation mode. Real life doesn't exist on vacation!
First, I temporarily forgot about my plan to host a Virtual Book Launch Party for my best friend, Anna Danforth. She just released her first book, Raising A Family Overseas (available on Amazon!).
Anna serves as a missionary in South Africa, so she won't be able to have an in-person book launch party in the US until this fall. I offered to host a Facebook launch party and do a livestream to promote the book.
Second, I temporarily forgot that a local distillery in OKC had kindly offered to do a fundraising night for Dragonfly—also scheduled for Tuesday night—that I had to attend.
These two events combined meant that meant that I spent several hours of Monday night preparing for the book launch party. Time well spent because 1) I love my best friend, and 2) her book deserves promotion as it will help a lot of people.
It also meant that on Tuesday afternoon, I raced from my office to the distillery with a couple staff members to support the fundraising night (TBH, despite the stress of running around, it was fun; all Dragonfly team members are fantastic human beings).
After about 45 minutes, I raced home to get ready for and host a 90-minute livestream with the book launch on Facebook. Also fun and rewarding! But also, I was wiped out at the end of the day.
What about Wednesday night? Maybe I could get my feet under me then! LOL, nope. I worked as late as I could on Dragonfly projects Wednesday night, because guess what? I did not get up at 5:45 any single day the first week to benefit from early morning work! And because Monday and Tuesday were hectic, I was playing catch up.
Thursday night threw another curve ball! Because turnout was low on Tuesday night for the fundraiser at the distillery, the owners very kindly offered to do it again on Thursday night! Very generous. But it also meant that my Thursday night would also be spent working later than usual! (Comes with the territory sometimes at a nonprofit when fundraisers are involved!)
So that night, I returned to the distillery with a different crew of Dragonfly staff for our second fundraising event in one week.
By that point, The Big Routine was OUT THE WINDOW, so I figured I might as well look on the bright side! I had fun at the second distillery fundraiser on Thursday night. I recruited a new batch of Dragonfly employees for that night. They even brought significant others and friends! We chatted about Dungeons & Dragons (which I used to play), Magic The Gathering (which I've never played), as well as various injuries some of us had sustained as adults and children!
And thus, the work part of The Big Routine Week One drew to an unsuccessful close.
Realization Two: My mental health will impact how The Big Routine plays out.
According to The Big Routine, Fridays are meant as rest days where I don't push myself to do anything in particular or be anything to anyone.
I talked in last week's blog post about my "Sorta Sabbath," where I learned the value of turning off the part of my brain that struggles to break from from a perfectionistic work ethic. I know it's good for me, even though it's tough, so I incorporated it into The Big Routine.
On this day, while part of me wanted to write and be creative, my mental health said otherwise.
I crashed hard on Friday. I spent the day listening to an audiobook and playing a word scramble day on my phone on my couch. For hours. And hours.
On the one hand, this activity allowed me to relax. I engaged a different part of my mind and didn't push myself to produce anything. Nothing wrong with that (or so I'm working on making myself believe).
But at the end of the day, when it was time for dinner, I had to turn off the distractions. I arose from my, closed the game app, and paused my audiobook.
Aaaaand that's when I realized I had been hardcore numbing my emotions.
Once the distractions were gone, the feelings came flooding in.
I still felt super sad—more than I realized—about having left Colorado one week earlier. My trip gave me such a breath of fresh air, figuratively and literally. Coming back to reality, driving away from the beautiful mountains, and leaving behind the cooler days and returning Oklahoma's blazing summer heat hit me hard.
I also realized I needed to process some hard conversations I'd had earlier in the week. The conversations were grounded in grace and respect, but they'd seriously challenged me and I had a swirl of emotions I still needed to sort out.
Finally, I realized I just had some general anxiety sneaking in. Due to summer vacations, it's been a few weeks since I've been able to meet with my therapist. Those weekly or biweekly meetings help my mental health more than I ever could have expected. I'll make sure to do what I can to avoid long gaps like this in the future.
All these emotions moved in swiftly, and I started to think about how my mental health will affect The Big Routine. If my mental health suffers, it may affect my sleep and impact my ability to get up early. My mental health impacts my concentration, whether it's for work projects or my personal projects.
Having rest and play built into The Big Routine will be crucial to making The Big Routine work at all! I believe those recovery days will equip me to walk out this new approach to doing life, especially during challenging times.
Realization Three: I made the right decision when I set my challenge for The Big Routine for one year.
By Tuesday afternoon of this first week, the writing was on the wall: The Big Routine was just NOT going to happen.
Instead of getting discouraged though, I felt weirdly excited and relieved.
After all, I have the whole year to make The Big Routine work! If I'd tried to do it for one month, I would've been dismayed at how the first week went. One whole quarter of the challenge would've been a bust! Instead, it was only one-fifty-second that was a bust! I have fifty-four more weeks to go!
In fact, this week is indicative of what I can be prepared for this year. There will be ups and downs. There will be holidays and hard weeks. There will be work events on evenings and weekends. There will be good mental health days and bad mental health days. That's life.
But I've landed on this theme while writing this blog post, and it'll be the theme for the whole challenge:
Realization Four: The Big Routine is not about perfection; it's about resilience and consistency.
If I can figure out how to ride the waves of life and get back to a consistent routine, then I'll build resilience to life's interruptions and get back to what's important to me, instead of feeling knocked around.
I truly believe—and experience has backed me up—that the more something is opposed, the more significant it will become if we don't give up on it.
I will leave you, my friends, with the pièce de résistance of opposition to The Big Routine.
On Saturday, I was cruising along I-44 from Oklahoma City to Tulsa for a dear friend's bridal shower. Out of nowhere, my car's engine started making a loud, awful knocking sound. My hand shaking, I pulled over, hazard lights flashing, and limped along to a nearby town just five minutes away.
I felt extraordinarily blessed by how numerous friends formed a safety net of support to rescue me. One friend came and rescued me, another friend helped me make it to my friend's bridal shower, and, through a series of events I won't go into, a third friend SENT HER CAR FOR ME TO BORROW.
1) One friend applied her tat upside down. 2) The bride and me! 3) My friend's brand new, dope ass car that she lent me!
Despite the hardship of my poor car, I ended up having a surprisingly lovely day visiting with friends.
As I pulled safely into my neighborhood late Saturday night, driving my friend's car, the level of opposition I'd faced this week to The Big Routine hit me all at once.
"Aha," I said to myself, entirely alone in the darkness. "With all the dumb crap that happened this week, and everything that tried to hold me back? I know I'm really onto something here with The Big Routine."
The opposition had overplayed its hand. Instead of discouraging me, it alerted me to the significance of what I'm working toward and deepened my dedication.
Right there and then, I dug in even harder to pursue The Big Routine. I'm still waiting to hear what's going on with my car, but instead of fretting, I'm writing and working toward implementing The Big Routine for Week Two.