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Hackernoon logoEmbracing the prison of Routine by@charliezannorman

Embracing the prison of Routine

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@charliezannormanCharlie Zannorman

Two months ago I decided to hire a life coach. During our first meeting, I made my goal very clear: “I know I am capable of a lot, but I struggle with routine. In fact I hate routine. I want to be free,” I said. The truth is, I realized that I had been running from scheduling my whole life.

Do you remember grade school? Without phones to keep us busy, we would line up day after day and putter through the doldrums of a lackluster education system where were expected to shuffle along quietly, pass our tests, and sit and listen pretty much all the time. Show up at 8 AM. Move when the bell rings. Raise your hand. Turn in your homework on time. It disgusted me.

On to high school and university, where things weren’t much different. Slowly, the blame shifted to me — isn’t it my own responsibility to find a life that excites and invigorates me? Yes, but more on that later. In the meantime, I puttered all the way through university degree, and on to the workforce, all the while slaving away to a schedule, never quite waking up.

The. God. Damned. Repetitive. Soul. Crushing. Routine.

Then, in my late 20s, something magical happened. I discovered computer programming and game design. Suddenly, an entire world of possibility was open to me. I quit my day job, started several companies, and learned how to deliver cool applications. And best of all — there was no freaking routine! I slept when I wanted, ate when I wanted, worked when I wanted. Nobody was my boss, dammit, and I was king of my own life. It felt amazing.

But.. something was bugging me. “Are you working enough?” it would nag. “Are you being as productive as you could be?” And I knew the voice was right. “Shouldn’t you be working right now?” was a haunting, persistent ghoul, never quite letting me relax all the way. And I didn’t have any success to speak of — sure, I could earn money when I needed, and had some neat projects to point to. But I haven’t “made it” yet. And the voice knows this. “What are you doing about it?”

And then it hit me. Routine had been my greatest enemy my whole life, but it wasn’t routine’s fault. It was life’s fault. School and work had been torture, so of course I had hated the routine of it! Yes, being free and blowing with the wind and being impulsive is fun. Yes, hanging on to innocence and child-like enthusiasm for every moment is important to me. Yes, I love not having a routine. But what I love even more is working hard and seeing dreams come true. I have a ton of value to impart to the world. What am I going to do about it?

As the discussions with my life coach evolved, I started adopting routines, slowly at first, and let me tell you. It is amazing how much time will bend to your will when you put the effort into a routine. Part of me is still afraid that by calling it out, by even writing this blog post or telling anyone about it, that my momentum will disintegrate. It’s definitely true that telling people your plans for success is the best way to never get around to it. But part of my broader movement is towards fully embracing my direction and purpose, which means communicating to the world without doubt what I am doing. So here you go.

Mondays are when I write my weekly blog post.


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