Sticking to Routine?

I recently read a letter from someone inquiring about the necessity of accepting social invitations when it conflicts with one’s daily routine. This person stated that she lives her life according to a set schedule (wakes up, goes to work, makes dinner, plays with her dog) and is quite content with it. She says she is put in a tough spot when co-workers ask her to meet for a drink after work or participate in another activity that would make her deviate from her predictable agenda.

The dilemma: Should this person accept the popular “do you” mantra or shuffle her schedule to be social?

I sympathize with this individual as I have craved routine since I was young. I think living a structured life is productive. I mean, what is wrong with going into each day with an established plan?

Well, as someone who continues to learn about life on a frequent basis, I have evolved my thinking to believe that we as humans can sometimes be too rigid. Perhaps we go overboard trying to compartmentalize the 24 hours we are gifted with each day.

Just an example: In order to have a good day, I made it a strict requirement that I needed to make my early morning gym session. If I didn’t exercise, it would eat at me throughout the day. I would feel like a slacker and sense strength leaving my body.

I have confined myself to other aspects of a set daily schedule as well. Devoting time in the evening to Don’t Blink and making sure we watched Jeopardy at 7:30 p.m. seemed key to the perfect day.

Over the past few years, I have realized that missing a morning at the gym won’t make me destined for “My 600-lb Life.” I also know that I can do the bulk of my Don’t Blink work on Sunday and that DVR does wonders for recording Jeopardy. Although having a kid made me realize that having a set schedule isn’t just unpractical – it is impossible – it also made me realize the importance of embracing social events as well.

I have always enjoyed doing fun things with friends and co-workers, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to pass on certain events if it meant seriously blowing up my routine. I thought I was being dedicated, but perhaps I was just being safe?

Look, there are still times when siding with routine is going to be your best bet. No need to attend every single holiday party you are invited to or go to a spontaneous happy hour on a Monday night. But, after living on this earth for three decades, I think we can choose fun over routine a little more than some of us “serious types” typically do. When you look back on your life, memories made with friends will probably shine brighter than the hour your spent in front of the TV or the computer. Don’t Blink.