I was at a conference last week and to tell you the truth before I left I was looking forward to getting away and enjoying the sights, sounds, and energy of Chicago. The first few days were awesome; filled with several miles on foot experiencing the magnificent mile, Navy Pier, Lake Michigan waterfront, and several good restaurants. By the third day, I started to feel it, not sure what “it” is but I know it is uncomfortable and it started to impact my trip. By Friday, I was drop dead ready to return home, you know that feeling: tired, got “problems” because of way too much restaurant food (OK maybe TMI, but its true), and sorely missing my wife and kids.
The weekend was great and very busy. The weekend before the first day back to school is always crazy but compound that with the fact that I was gone all week and still hadn’t resolved what “it” was and well, I could have been a better husband and father. As I got up Monday at 5:00, hit the shower, made the coffee, read for 30 minutes, prayed, got kids up, made breakfast, got dressed, and walked out the door headed to my drive which always includes a podcast of something educational or uplifting it hit me, I figured out what “it” is. My routine got way out of whack. As I started to consider this more, books I have read that speak to the significance of routine started running through my squirrel cage. Podcasts I listened to and some personal conversations I have had that reinforced purposefully creating a schedule started reverberating through my head.
One of the best books I have ever read relating to personal growth and development is called The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy. In this book Darren reveals a formula that I have adopted as a way to manage my own growth: Choice + Behavior + Habit + Compounded (over time) = Goals. The funny thing about this formula is that if you remove one of the addends, the sum could be reduced dramatically. The lack of routine in my trip, I believe, decreased my effectiveness on the trip and as a result, I didn’t get as much out of it or pour as much into is as I could have. As I continued to reflect on this I started looking around me at who I influence, my wife, my kids, my co-workers, my team. The trip I took, at least to some degree or another, impacted their ability to achieve those goals that I may be helping them with. I am not saying here that the world revolves around me, or any one of us specifically, but we do have an impact on those around us and even if you cancel the weekly meeting ahead of time, when you aren’t there, the routine is broken, and according to the formula, there is an impact.
This reflection has been a good one for me. The next time I travel, I will develop and schedule a routine for the trip. The next time I have to cancel a standing meeting with a staff member I will try to think about how that is impacting the routine that is built into that relationship. Routines and habits make up who you are. Our lives area defined by how we spend our time, talents, and treasures, I want to be as responsible and accountable as possible for all of these areas of life.
Take Away: Routines have impact. If you do not have habits or routines, take the time to make up daily routines and you will experience growth and people around you will benefit immensely.