“Life is too short to live the same day twice.” – Jennifer Lopez
A woman in a Someday salon said, “The juice has gone out of my life, and I’m not sure why.”
When we talked about what her days looked like, she quickly realized that every day pretty much looks like the next.
Up at 6:30, oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, out of the house by 7:30, an hour commute, at the office by 8:30.
A day full of meetings that seem to go nowhere, lunch at a local deli or at her desk, an hour (or more, depending on weather and traffic) commute home.
Evenings consist of eating dinner while watching TV or scrolling social media, in bed by 11.
Next day, rinse and repeat.
No wonder her life has become a bit of a blah.
I shared Anne Dillard’s quote with her, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” and we talked about how she could “change up” her routines so her days and life didn’t feel so “routine.”
Have your days (and life) become routine?
Days feeling “same old-same old” is a prescription for regrets. Someday, we’re going to look back and think, “What happened? Where did it all go? I want a do-over.”
The good news is, we can have a do-over on any given day. How about today?
The key is to look at our daily routines and ask, “Are they serving me or sabotaging me?”
Some routines serve a good purpose.
For example, walking our dog every morning can be a GOOD routine. Getting outdoors, getting moving, reconnecting with nature can energize us. Even if we’re not in a good mood when we walk out the door, we often are when we walk back in that door.
That routine is a mood LIFTER.
Some routines are mood DOWNERS. They may have started out serving a good purpose, but they’ve become ROTE.
A good indication of routines that have become ROTE is if we’re on automatic pilot while doing them.
When we’re on automatic pilot, we’re only half there.
And if we’re only half there, we’re missing half our life.
Taking the same route to work every day is an example of a routine that can bcome numbinly rote.
Sure, this may be the shortest way to work. But if we’ve “been there, done this” hundreds of times, that routine is sqeezing the juice out of life.
The good news is, we have options. That’s what being a human being means. We can choose to do things differently anytime we want. Like right now.
Tomorrow morning, why not choose to take a different way to work?
Sure, it may add five to ten minutes to the commute, but if taking a fresh route breaks up the routine and makes us more alert to what’s around us, isn’t that a worthy payoff?
Or, maybe we can be more like our dog.
Have you ever noticed that even though your dog has walked the same block hundreds of times, s/he is as excited to go out as if it’s the first time?
Mark Nepo says, “The secret to joy is to be easily delighted.”
Maybe we can keep our routines, but choose to experience them with the fresh eyes and everyday appreciation of a dog?
Dogs are ecstatic just to be alive. Pretty much everything – whether it’s checking their p-mail or greeting us when we come back from the mailbox – is cause for joy.
Maybe today, we can choose to see our world with that same sense of fresh gratitude.
Take two minutes right now to think through your day.
What do you do, day in, day out? What has become a rote routine?
How can you change that today? What could you do to put some juice back into your life?
It doesn’t have to be a big thing, little things can have a big impact.
Teihard de Chardin said, “The whole of life lies in the verb ‘seeing.’”
Today, see someone – or do something – as if for the first time.
Really look at them, experience it, with fresh eyes and newfound appreciation.
The second you do, life will cease to be … routine.
– – –
Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create the life of their dreams. Her TEDx talks and books have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and taught to NASA, Intel, Cisco, YPO. This is excerpted from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week, which received this endorsement from Sheri Salata (Exec. Producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show), “Sam is one of the bright lights and most accessible wisdom-sharers in our culture today.”