A letter to myself about routine

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” 

–Steven Pressfield

Dear Andrew,

Without realizing it, you have become a massive hypocrite.

You have sworn off and lambasted, to anyone that will listen, something that has allowed you to achieve things that you are incredibly proud of, something you owe a great deal to: routine.

With your nose in the air, you assert your adverseness to the norm by reciting such truisms as “Routine is the enemy” and “Comfort breeds weakness”.

You have bragged everywhere from cover letters to casual conversation that you have an ‘addiction to change’ and that you could “realistically live some place new every six months.”

But only through routine and being (mostly) in one spot geographically have you been able to devote a small chunk of time every day the past 18 months to writing. Only this has allowed you to self-publish two books so quickly and turn this blog into something you are proud to share.

Everytime you do travel, even if it’s just a few days, you always end up missing routine. Admit it. Your brain starts to crave that morning solitude and complete immersion in your projects.

Do you think you’ll get that on a six month backpacking trek across Europe living out of hostels? Unlikely. Do you think once the novelty of foreign lands wears off you’ll be itching to ground yourself in one spot and get some work done? Most definitely.

It’s ok to have a base. It’s ok to have roots. And it’s ok to call a place home for an indefinite amount of time. It’s not selling out, it’s investing in yourself.

Yes, there is tremendous value in travelling and pursuing new experiences. Living in new places and experiencing different ways of life is indeed a great way to gain perspective. However, while that all may mold and teach us plenty, what we do in our daily routine creates that foundation we get to sculpt.

These constantly shifting variables and ADD living are the enemy of routine. While there might be a kind of glamour in the ‘wayfaring writer’ penning the Great American Novel in a rail car, this is not how you work best. You traveled quite a bit last year, and while planes and hotels seem like the perfect place to get serious work done, that’s not what happens. Maybe for some people, but not you. 

Part of this animosity comes from having written off (unfairly) what a routine exactly is.

Think about fitness, specifically CrossFit, whose principals of incremental change and highly-focused (yet brief) intervals you have applied to other areas of your life. While the workouts change every day, CrossFit is a perfect example of how routine need not be repetitive and mindless. To get good at the activity, one must still apply themselves consistently and frequently—aka they must apply themselves with routine. A deliberate, defined, and constantly-varied routine, but one nonetheless. 

So stop sullying routine’s good name. It is not the enemy, but a powerful partner whose relationship with should be nurtured to the fullest.

Just do the work and enjoy where you are. The world will be always be there, and as the fruit of your labor now, you will have it someday soon.  

Yours,
Me

Leave a Reply