An intentional break from routines and some reflections on the reset- 4 mins
I was excited about February this year. It’s the first trip I had planned in a while and being boxed up, like everyone else, for long was definitely a catalyst. I’ve had good memories from my last trip to Hawaii, but that one was a short trip. Escaping the boxed-up feeling and the ‘cold’ weather in the Bay area to go to a tropical weather island sounded too good to pass on.
There’s something however I didn’t take into consideration as I went on this vacation. The disruption would cause my routine of writing, reading, and meditation daily. (Earlier this year, I wrote about how I started practicing a daily 1-hour meditation practice that I diligently attended to.)
Well, let’s just say it only took a week for me in Hawaii to realize that keeping up daily routine in the Bay Area wasn’t practical. So I took this opportunity to intentionally reset. And so, I chose to let the day just flow without sticking to any particular routine. And here are some of my reflections -
Taking a break helped me distinguish between what I ‘should’ do vs what I want to do
Have you come across media that breaks down the routines of top performers? When I across such media, I realized they mostly have overlapping themes - Meditation, Exercise, Reading, etc. The goal of these is usually to motivate readers with the hope that anyone could achieve bigger things by following these routines. They state you have control over your choice. And go on to make you feel like should include some of these themes in your day.
So I did. Sticking to these habits and the routine didn’t feel like a chore to me. However, my mindset was that I should be doing this. This created friction that wasn’t very obvious to me at first. I did feel a sigh of relief when I didn’t have to oblige myself into these habits when I went for the vacation.
However, now that I’ve spent a good amount of time away from my routine and habits and I’ve gained admiration for these habits again. Instead of thinking ‘I have to read’ - I’ve realized in this break that reading brings me plenty of joy and I want it to be part of my day. The activities that started to feel mundane in my routine have now been boosted because they feel meaningful to me again.
Tweaking the process to what works best
Taking this break gave me the time to reflect on the processes that were tied to each habit. Some weren’t benefiting me as much, and others brought me a lot of joy. For eg - I have a daily journaling template that could definitely use some pruning to make it more valuable. Moreover, in my quest to performing the task, I got into my completing my journal fast without really spending time with the questions. And looking back, I would’ve definitely preferred quality answers to a smaller list of questions.
My 1-hour meditation practice was another. While I thoroughly enjoyed this practice, it’s not very practical when you’re busy with a professional career. This is why I’ll stick to my habit of breaking the sessions into 2, 20 min Transcendental Meditation sessions that possibly bring me the same joy.
Getting back to a routine
The key to enjoying the vacation for me was this intentional break from routine. It allowed me to not be harsh on myself. This was important to me since it’s easy to fall into the trap of judging for not doing what you ‘should’ be doing.
I had another observation as I was starting to pick myself back to a routine. As I tried to gain momentum initially, I had days where I couldn’t get to it. And so it was easy to give in to this mindset and not show up for a few days. But to get started you have to look at the bigger picture. This quote from James clear helped put things into perspective for me -
“One mistake is just an outlier. Two mistakes is the beginning of a pattern” - James Clear
Think of skipping a day as an ‘outlier’ in the larger scope of things. If you’re back to the task the next day, your trend line is still going strong.
In the end, this break has given meaning to my habits and made me reflect on what was working and what wasn’t in the larger scheme of things. I would recommend you do the same.
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