Most of us are creatures of habit, and I enjoy having a routine.  I get up at the same time each day and arrive at the office at the same time.  I have established a pattern of watching the same TV shows on certain nights each week and cooking family dinners two times per week.  But Tuesday, I had a problem. I prepared family dinner and NCIS, one of my regularly scheduled shows, was about to air. My solution to this dilemma was to turn the TV show on and watch while we had family dinner. Entirely focused on the show, my son interrupted and asked why I watched a show that was so predictable. I justified myself with a multitude of excuses, and we all had a good laugh.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; I had intentionally chosen to adhere to my routine and compromise family time for a silly TV show. My routine trumped my values.

Maybe you’ve heard the quote “the less routine, the more life.”  This quote may be true for some. A life without routines could be fun, exciting and filled with new adventure.  Think about how fun it would be to go into a day with absolutely no expectations, plans or scheduled appointments.  But for me, and I suspect for most of you, routines keep me grounded. I find even short breaks from my scheduled routines throw me off kilter.  That said, Tuesday’s epiphany made me question whether my adherence to daily routines denied me of the flexibility to enjoy time with my family.  

The right routines can propel us towards a life of accomplishment.  Routines keep us on track. The secret is to align your routine with your values.  For example, if you value job security and desire to make partner, you understand the need to develop a book of business to obtain this goal.  To do this, you need to add some focused and targeted business development activities into your daily routine. When coaching lawyers, I challenge them to create new habits and practice those habits three or four times each week. For example, blocking off specific time to make calls to referral sources, former clients, prospects, and peers each week is a great habit to develop.  This habit can take as little as forty-five minutes per week if you make three fifteen-minute phone calls but can yield tremendous return on investment. What I know is that if my coaching clients establish positive routines and stick with them, they will be amazed at the business development momentum they can build.

Routines aligned with our values and goals also create efficiencies. Knowing what you want to accomplish, setting goals and then eliminating activities that divert your focus will help you reach your goals more quickly.  Taking my example above, I tout family as one of my core values and have set a goal to have two family dinners each week. When I turn on the TV and choose to watch NCIS while eating family dinner instead of interacting with my family, I create a diversion and deny myself of moving closer to my goal. 

My conclusion is that routines aligned with your core values are good.  These routines bring comfort and a sense of normalcy to everyday life. That said, you must be mindful of routines that conflict with our sidetrack you from reaching your goals.  Don’t be so vested in your routine that you lose sight of new opportunities to learn or experience the unexpected.

This week, I challenge each of you to examine your routines.  Are they aligned with your core values or have they just become stale patterns that are performed because they have become simply routine?  If so, resolve to change and begin to experience even greater success. Till next time! Tea

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