The power of routines

Lately routine has become a somewhat trendy word, and I’m glad it has. It is no longer associated with boring, formalistic practices, but rather as a means of achieving results and reaching goals. And the truth is that by repeating certain things often enough you will show progress. It has been suggested that 10,000 hours of work is the required amount of skill development. However, others learn different skills more quickly than others.

When setting a goal to start working out at the gym, to jog more or to get better at sport, creating a routine is key. Acting routinely simply means doing something automatically from day to day. In the same way as you drink coffee in the morning, go to work and brush your teeth in the evening. These everyday activities are repeated without giving them a proper thought, mechanically. When you want to create a training routine or get better in some skill, then going to the gym, the jogging track or to wherever your hobbies are, should be done in the same way automatically, without having to spend too much of your mental or physical resources.

Sometimes I have thought that routines are not suitable for me. I never thought I would enjoy routines at work either, since I would have to repeat the same things from day to day. I was afraid of getting really bored and thought there must be more variation in life. I thought I needed new challenges and new experiences all the time and in all aspects of my life.

I’ve been working out with this mentality my entire adult life, and because of that I’ve never become really good at any specific sport or skill. At one point I did a lot of work in the gym to get to that 100kg squat. When that day finally came, my goal-oriented squat training stopped, even though I had all the potential to get even better. Instead, I wanted to try something new, so I started crossfit. I went to the box three times a week, developed some skills more and some less, but after some time training became less consistent. Then I started running again. Then I started to do more yoga. At some point, I had so many hobbies, it became hard to fit all of them into one week. I did everything but it felt like I was actually doing nothing. My calendar was full with different workouts, but no progress happened. After some time I realised it was just the opposite. My body became weaker and stiffer and I started to get more injuries.

Looking backwards, I realized that variation can only get you so far. Progress and results require commitment and regularity. Also, no proper results can be achieved when you only set short-term goals for yourself, but forget the long-term goals. If you want new experiences, you can try out new workouts and classes from time to time, but the cornerstone of goal-oriented training is routines. So whatever your sport may be, remember the importance of routines in achieving results.