The Freedom to Disrupt Your Own Patterns

One of the best things about routines is the opportunity to break them.

A regular schedule, workout, or other discipline provides a stable foundation for each day. The benefits of routines are many and well known. But my favorite is probably the fact that, once you have a routine, it gives you the ability to shock yourself out of a stupor by mixing it up every once in a while.

Some days just feel draggy. When I’m on autopilot and can’t break the funk, I get a sudden realization like a little voice whispering, “Hey, you could change your routine, or even skip it.” It comes as a revelation. The idea immediately energizes me, like a kid playing hooky.

It doesn’t even have to be a major change in routine, just a slight unexpected variation will do. It works wonders, reminds me of my own agency, allows some mischief, and keeps the world engaging.

This only works if there are routines in the first place and they are pretty much always kept. A sudden deviation is great when it’s a real surprise. When it’s an escape hatch always present at the back of the mind and frequently used, it weakens all the benefits of routine and provides none of the benefits of breaking routine.