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Let’s dive into the world of routines and how they can be both a blessing and a challenge for us perfectly imperfect human beings. Routines can be defined as a usual series of things or actions you take at a particular time.

Most of us have some kind of daily routine – what we do to get ready for work or to start our day each morning, the repeated steps we take when cooking a favorite meal, or the everyday commute to work or to school.

If you’ve ever written (or viewed) computer code, you’ve probably encountered the concept of routines.

These snippets of code can be used and reused to perform specific functions or processes. They’re a programmer’s best friend, saving hours of time by preventing the need to write the same set of instructions repeatedly.

It’s an efficient way to work in the world of coding – simply copy and paste the routine where you need it to be inside a larger program.

From a machine’s perspective, assuming the code is well-written and bug-free, routines are like a well-oiled machine. They run successfully every time you call upon them, as long as the program is loaded, compiled, and ready to go. Machines don’t question; they just execute the routines they’re given.

Now, let’s shift gears to us perfectly imperfect human beings. We also like routines – for some of us, they provide a sense of comfort, knowing what is expected of us and what we should do to accomplish a desired task.

We create routines for ourselves to handle tasks we perform and repeat frequently. For example, maybe you pay your bills on the same day every month, following a step-by-step procedure.

Another routine might include collecting and washing dirty clothes, using the same detergent and fabric softener for all of your clothes. These personal routines help maintain order in our lives and make things run more smoothly.

But here’s the (obvious) twist: we’re not machines.

We’re wonderfully human, which means we’re prone to error. Yep, that’s part of the package deal. So, while routines can be super helpful, they’re not foolproof because, well, we’re not machines.

Sometimes, we try to automate our lives as much as possible, just like setting up automatic bill payments with our bank. It’s convenient, right? Most of the time, it works like a charm, and your bills get paid on time without you lifting a finger.

But what happens if there’s a delay in your deposit clearing the banking system, and your bank account doesn’t have enough money in it? Uh-oh, your automatic payment fails, and you’re hit with a fee.

However, distressing that can be, don’t let these occasional hiccups discourage you from automating aspects of your life. It’s essential to realize that room for error exists and be as prepared as you can be for when things don’t go as planned. Sure, the banking scenario is relatively minor, but in other situations, the stakes can be much higher.

Imagine you’re at work, and a colleague hands over an important, but currently automated process to you0*—–/1. It works like a charm for a while, and then one day, it goes haywire. Your company is counting on you to keep things running smoothly, but you never learned how to handle this process manually, and you’re no coding wizard.

This illustrates that routines, whether in our personal or professional lives, are fantastic tools, but they have their limitations. It’s crucial to be aware of these limitations and have backup plans in place for when routines don’t work as expected.

After all, we’re not machines, and that’s what makes life beautifully unpredictable. When there are routines in place, even if they’ve worked without a hitch for a long time, employ your human curiosity and creativity, ask questions, and develop a plan for the day that the routine doesn’t go as planned.

There could be many reasons outside of your control that your routine failed – the hard part is staying calm and referring to your ‘backup plan’ for an alternative. Be alert, make sure you know who and what to do, and keep the procedure updated as well.

Being able to handle a challenge to your normal routine is a confidence booster and a stress-reliever. When you know that you know, hitches in the routine aren’t the end of the world, just a small hiccup that you have the ability to solve.

Journal Prompts to Examine the Role of Routines in Your Life

Take a look at the journal prompts below, and use them to start or continue your journaling practice. Read each prompt out loud and see what emotions or thoughts it brings up for you. Write one or more of the prompts in your journal (or on a blank sheet of paper) and continue writing to explore your thoughts and feelings. If you need a journal, we have several journals available on our website HERE.

  1. What are some daily routines or processes I have in my life?
  2. How do these routines help me maintain order and efficiency?
  3. Can I think of a time when one of my routines didn’t work as expected? What did I learn from it?
  4. Have I ever automated a task? How did it simplify my life, and were there any unexpected challenges?
  5. What steps can I take to be better prepared for when routines don’t go as planned?
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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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