I read an interesting article today explaining the difference between purpose and routine.
Written by John Swart and appearing in The Voice of Pelham, the article described how both are needed for a balanced life.
“Routines are conscious ways of doing things repetitively and in a specific order, like making your coffee, then brushing your teeth, getting dressed and making your bed every morning,” Fort Behavioral Health, an addiction treatment center in Fort Worth, noted on its website.
The center explained routines are made of tiny habits that, when combined, lead people toward a goal. Routines are things we often do on autopilot. They ensure we can accomplish what we need to do each day by doing things in a specific order.
Yet, when we get trapped in a routine, sometimes it can morph into a comfort zone, from which we don’t want to deviate. That’s very easy for people over 50 to do. Routines can become quicksand that traps us in a hopeless existence.
Some people get up, have breakfast, scan the news, shower and get dressed, play a round of golf, enjoy lunch, take a nap, spend time on social media, have an early dinner at the restaurant (to get the senior discount, of course), then come home to watch a few hours of television before hitting the sack.
Then rinse and repeat the next day and the day after as well. That’s routine. It’s comfortable and easy to predict what will happen from day-to-day. It also leads to a boring existence devoid of any excitement and challenge outside of scoring extra fries at dinner.
When our lives are controlled by routine, it’s very hard to passionately pursue a purpose. Taking steps toward something that truly motivates us may alter our routine. The results of purposeful living are unknown and often unpredictable.
“Choosing a purpose can mean searching our heart rather than brain, exploring situations that excite and stimulate us rather than keep us comfortable and stress-free. Waking each morning motivated by a purpose to do or achieve something adds intensity to every day,” John wrote.
While routines may create busyness, doing the same thing day after day leaves us unfulfilled and lacking satisfaction. Then, we often self-medicate that feeling of emptiness or worthlessness by engaging in unproductive and potentially harmful addictive behavior just to numb our minds to the pain we’re experiencing.
“Routine may create a busyness that fills our days, but busyness doesn’t demand clear goals or specific plans. Purpose adds that extra dimension — focused goals, plans and actions that can add to our fulfillment,” he added.
Goals give us a reason to wake up every morning exited for a new day and the opportunities as well as the challenges it brings. Personally, I would rather wake up to a day of challenges, on occasion, because I know contending with them or solving the problems will keep my mind far more active than wondering where I misplaced the TV remote.
“The benefits of purpose include increased optimism, resiliency and hope; experiencing joy, satisfaction and accomplishment more frequently; an increased desire to learn new things; and the ability to sustain setbacks as they arise,” John wrote.
So, evaluate your daily routine. If you can’t spot any sign of meaningful purpose, then it’s time to change that routine before the quicksand traps you too deeply inside your comfort zone.
John’s full story, “THE BALANCED LIFE | Routine vs. purpose—we need both,” is available at www.thevoiceofpelham.ca.
If you’d like help identifying your purpose and developing a plan to accomplish it, I welcome the opportunity to chat with members of the Forward From 50 Facebook community. For a limited time, I am offering a complementary 30-minute chat to brainstorm some options. To take advantage of that, either connect with me on Facebook or by visiting www.forwardfrom50.com/start-here.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.