How do we choose?
Mostly, we are one or the other. Bath or shower. At some past point we chose. Selected a preference. Now we are loyal, typically. We are in the bath camp or the shower camp. A few of us may be ambidextrous, fickle, users or abusers. Employing both for different needs. Both is itself a choice.
Is our choice down to practicalities or pampering? Speed or relaxation? Morning or evening? Felt sensations or logical economies? Time to be, or time to do? Purpose or pleasure? Logistics or preference? Conscious or unconscious? Habit or variety? Selfish or selfless?
Can we learn about our other choices from something so basic, so routine?
Maybe it’s time to clean up our choice making?
How often do you change what you do?
I don’t mean change job or your career. I mean change behaviour.
How much of your daily, weekly, monthly routine is just that, routine?
Do you get up at the same time? Wash, dress and eat in the same order? Do you always have a cup of tea? Eat the same things, drink the same juice? Do you go to work the same way, leave at the same time, make the same checks before leaving? Do you have the same routines on arrival at work? Get a coffee, hang up your coat, switch on your computer, go to your locker…? Do you have lunch at the same time, eat the same choices, go with the same people? Do you leave at the same time, get the same bus or train, have the same routine when you walk through the door at home?
Do you shop the same day of the week? Wash the car or cut the grass Saturday or Sunday? Do you do the washing or ironing on a set day? Do the kids have after school club every Tuesday? Do you go skiing every year, or have a week in the sun?
How often do you deliberately change things?
Do you change more than you don’t?
Do you maintain more than you alter?
What might happen if you changed more?
It’s not that change is intrinsically good or bad, it’s simply that so much of what we do becomes an unconscious pattern, a sloppy given, an unthinking routine. It’s a missed opportunity to experiment, to learn, to improve.
Returning to work after a holiday is…
Well, what is it?
How do you complete that sentence?
Returning to work after a holiday is…
… to be relished?
… a relief?
… a right pain?
I wonder what is to be learned from our transitions in and out of holidays?
The rush to leave. Clearing the inbox. Completing the ‘to do’ list. Handing over. Readying the house or the family for the break. Buying what you need; food, gifts, tickets.
If you are going away, checking you have everything at point of departure (tickets, passports, money etc). Securing the house. Telling neighbours, friends, relatives.
Then the return. Knowing that work will have been piling up. Checking your emails the night before. Anything urgent? Can you clear the junk? Getting your work bag, clothes, technology ready. Dealing with the nervous tension in your stomach. Packed lunch?
First day back. Easy routine to fall back in to. So much to catch up on. Nothing has changed. Tell everyone about your break. Listen to their story. Let it all fade into memory. Focus on the work. Rhythm found.
Until the next time.
Why do we play this game?
A change is as good as a rest, so the saying goes. But we are creatures of habit, so says another familiar saying.
Most of us like to experience something new from time to time. Something different. The first time experience is life affirming. It is growth. It is learning. It brings excitement. Anticipation. We holiday in new locations, learn a new skill, see a new band live, buy a new outfit, change our job. Change injects adrenaline. Gives us a buzz. We seek it to bring interest, to force movement, to drive personal growth.
Yet we also like routine. We like the familiar. Something predictable. Solid. Grounded. There is great joy in revisiting a memorable place again, enjoying a favourite meal, wearing that familiar shirt, replaying that special album track. In fact routine structures our lives. We rise at the same hour, dress, shower and breakfast in the familiar sequence. We travel to work the same route at the same time. Regular meetings. Story time, bath time, bed time.
Change and consistency. New and familiar. Spontaneity and routine.
Maybe we are creatures of contrast? Maybe that’s the habit?