I love routines because they give me stability. My morning routine is a good example: I begin in my study reviewing a Scripture (starting the day with God’s Truth), then to the gym or for a run to get my blood flowing, then spend quiet time with the Lord, then breakfast, then a shower and off to work for the day. When that routine gets interrupted, I feel out of sorts and out of control.
Right now many of my routines are being interrupted as we prepare to pull up stakes and relocate. Moving is chaotic, and we are reminded every time we reach for an item only to realize it’s now packed away in a box.
But there is an advantage to the chaos of moving, or any other sudden change in routine. Such times are good opportunities to evaluate our routines to see which have ceased to serve us well. To see which routines have actually become ruts.
I’ve heard of a sign posted at the beginning of the barren Alcan highway: “Choose your rut carefully – you will be in it for the next 200 miles.” Whether you find yourself in the middle of a move, or simply the transition to a New Year, view the change as chance to consider whether you need to break out of some ruts and form some new routines. Here are some practical ideas to spur your thinking in several life areas:
Relational. When was the last time you had someone over for dinner who you don’t know well? When was the last time you proactively pursued a new friend? As the old saying goes,
Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold. – Joseph Parry
As you meet new people, ask them questions about their background and beliefs – it will stretch and grow you.
Physical. Are you in a rut with your workout routine? Maybe the rut is that you don’t have one – break out and introduce one simple activity 2-3 times per week in the new year. You don’t even have to tackle the “three times per week for 20 minutes” if that’s too daunting. Twice a week for 10 minutes is significantly more than nothing and gets your momentum going in the right direction.
Or maybe your rut is that you exercise too much – breaking that rut might look like taking 30 minutes per week to take a nap or practice deep breathing.
Mental. Do you get your news and information from the same sources all the time? Maybe it’s time to switch it up and try a new news app and read some books by authors who don’t share your point of view. On the flip side, if you work in a career that pushes you mentally all the time, you may need to set aside some time to play cards with your family or watch reruns of “Andy Griffith.”
Spiritual. If all your spiritual input comes from church once a week, pick out a new daily devotional for the coming year on YouVersion. Or choose a Bible reading plan and just spend time each day reading God’s Truth for yourself. Pick out a sermon podcast from a trusted Bible-teaching church and listen while you are working out (two birds with one stone!)
Here’s my challenge to you as the New Year approaches: identify three areas of your life where you have fallen into ruts, and brainstorm a new routine for each area in 2016. Use some of the areas above, or target Career, Education, Family, or Parenting. If you want to motivate us all, share your three new routine goals with us below.
Praying your routines move you forward to experience God’s best in 2016!