The Value of Routine


A fraction of a second, five minutes, half an hour, a week, a month, a year, a decade. What does routine mean? What value do we assign to its meaning? How do we manage our routine? Who is in charge? What extensions of the concept of routine can we come to think of? So many questions!

It’s seven o’clock on a cold October morning a few days before the New York City Marathon. I wanted to write about this important event, and in a strange game of abstraction, one of those in which the mind ranges from one thought to another, I find myself with thousand questions, writing about routine. Allow me to take you with me on this Pindaric flight.

In a few days, New York will host one of the most important races in the world. Not just an ordinary race—the New York City Marathon. Your tone of the voice changes when you say it.

In a few days, fifty thousand people will test themselves to participate, finish, and win one of the most important race in the world, one of the biggest events of the year no matter who you are, runner or spectator.

If you are spectators, the first Sunday of November may not mean that much and you will not have marked it on your calendar for sure. If you are a runner, if you have run, if you would like to do it, or if you plan to do it, the first Sunday of November is a bit like Christmas or Thanksgiving here in America—it’s not only well highlighted in the calendar year after year, but you build your year around the date, you plan for it, you train in preparation.

How many appointments for the year do we have?

Well, it’s not like there’s a rule. I’m not necessarily talking about the holiday days marked in the calendar. I grew up in an analogic world, and I smile thinking about when in school we looked up the holidays of the next two years to see if there would be any long weekends. If you’ve ever had a diary in your life—or an appointment schedule—you probably know what I’m talking about.

There is nothing wrong with considering all or some of the festive days marked on the calendar, but let’s go further. When I talk about the appointments of the year, I mean a very personal and unique selection of events that we each consider relevant. There are no rules and there are no filters to be applied to understand if a certain event may or may not be included in our list. It’s up to us.

In my list there is the month of September, which I have always considered an important appointment. There is a trip or two a year back home to my beloved Marche. There are other trips. I studied dance for over twenty years and there was always the year-end recital in mid-June. There was the New York City Marathon, which I ran in 2016. There are marketing plans to be presented. Once upon a time, there was also the bikini test ☺. The list could continue, but I hope I have given you an idea to try to think about your own selection.

The appointments of the year change over the course of our lives. They change because our priorities change, situations change, conditions change, because we change. The “WHAT” we consider important and deserving to belong to the list is fundamental, but here we are interested in underlining the “WHY.”

The appointments of the year give value to our routine

A routine is comforting.

As human beings, we are comfortable with our habits, our rhythms, the places familiar to us, the people we know, the road we travel every morning, our particular way of drinking coffee, and then again the newspaper, the walk.

The routine is like the Comfort Zone—it has a value.

We are our routines. Our routines depend on us. And our routines also depend on the appointments of the year, the value we assign to them, the way we live the preparation for it, the lead-up before and the wind-down after the event. It is also by selecting our appointments of the year that we can value our routine, grow and improve.

When my appointment of the year was the New York City Marathon, my routine for days, weeks, and months was a workout routine. When my appointment of the year was the launch of this new site, my routine for days, weeks, and months was a routine of research and preparation.

We talk a lot about goals: how to define them, how to achieve them.

Let’s try for once to change the narrative. Let’s tell a different story, a story made up of appointments, a story made up of important events. We close our eyes and project ourselves into the situation—let’s visualize ourselves in New York City in the midst of fifty thousand people at the start of the marathon, or in any other situation that belongs to our list—we open our eyes, ready to give value to our routine!

Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

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