Have you ever watched your prototypical a-type personality absolutely lose it when one of their routines get interrupted? If not you could sit at your local Starbucks in the morning and eventually you will. The healthy question to ask yourself when watching this person freak out about the soy milk a barista put in their latte when they clearly ordered oat milk, is “why are they acting this way?” If you’re an a-type personality like the that person freaking out, you probably know exactly what they are going through.
Society has clearly become obsessed with self-improvement. There is enough of it out there for a prototypical a-type to stay high on all day long. This phenomena is creating an obsession with morning routines to set up for the optimal day. Of course it’s imperative for out a-types to have a solid evening routine to ensure they can have the optimal routine. It’s a never-ending loop of routines to setup other routines for optimal performance. Break one of these routines and we run the risk of the cycle being interrupted and next thing we know we’re back on the couch eating cheesy puffs.
While psychologists and self-help experts alike argue on how many days or reps it actually takes to make a habit, anyone and their mother can see it takes some time to build a habit. Once that habit is engrained in our lifestyle our minds can move to engage in our habit action without thinking in order to expend energy. If a routine is your habit and it gets interrupted, an outside force is risking you breaking the habit and falling off of the wagon. Frequently our habits center around substances that give us a cheap high (the coffee analogy), or good habits that trigger a hormone response giving us a long term high (the runners high). Anything that interrupts these things can cause a very visceral response in the brain. Try to prevent a nicotine addict from getting their fix and watch the lengths they will go to accomplish it.
Routines and habits are both just energy saving tactics. Arguably, they are the easier way out in accomplishing a task. Show me a person with little responsibility who can focus solely on themselves and their routine, and I will show you someone who likely doesn’t not have much mental fortitude. Any change in our days results in our brain being required to problem solve and adapt to new surroundings. Now, show me the mother who juggles two children, a job, a side hustle, and a relationship with her husband alongside their goals and desired routines for the day. That is the model of resilience, strength, and discipline. Balancing multiple responsibilities, competing priorities, while knowing your day will get changed multiple times before it even starts and still accomplishing your daily goals. That is thriving in chaos. That is the most impressive type achiever.
Having had the opportunity to watch a woman do that very thing day in and day out, I’ve come to the conclusion it depends on two intertwined traits. Discipline and flexibility. Often times we see a person cheat on a diet and use that as an excuse to continue eating what ever they want. I had a donut yesterday, I guess this is over with. You wouldn’t turn around on your morning commute because you hit traffic or a red light. You shouldn’t turn around when you hit the first sign of resistance on the path to your goals. The difference between the people who achieve their goals ,which is the purpose of a routine anyway, and those that don’t is the achievers are flexible. They roll with the punches. They don’t let a single issue derail them.
Morning routines, wind down routines, and great habits are all a recipe for long term success. Minimal compounding interest has great gains over time whether it is in your bank account, diet, or the gym. We should all set lofty goals and work to accomplish them. We should not use the first sign of resistance as a sign to turn back. Rather, we should see it as an exciting challenge we can use to further build our resilience. Resilient, flexible, and disciplined people are our greatest achievers. They are doing amazing things in the business world, home, or arena.
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John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.