There is something comforting about routine. It is what gives us a reference point in a life that might otherwise be too busy for us to keep track of. So we all have our little routines and rituals. For some, it might be that we always take the long way to work on Monday’s because it gives us a few extra moments to ourselves before we start the week. Others might simply stop at a local café everyday on the way to work.
These things become a part of us, at a certain point we do them without even thinking about it. A habit is formed and we can go through the motions with our brain almost on autopilot. This is all well and good but sometimes that autopilot can get in our way, especially if we don’t take a moment check in with the effects our habits are having on our lives.
Just doing the same thing
over and over again.
Taking the long way work on Monday’s is fine but it is not good to drive halfway to your office on Memorial Day before you realize that you don’t actually have to be there because of the holiday. This is not a bad habit, but it is any habit can have negative results when left unchecked.
Once we get into that autopilot mode it can take a minute to realize that we haven’t fully thought through our actions, and it may not be all at once. Along the way to work on this Monday you might realize that you are making great time and that there is almost no traffic. The lack of traffic will cause you to wonder why there aren’t very many people on the road, and you will finally come to the conclusion that “It’s a holiday today! ” This is little scenario is exactly the kind of thing we need to look out for. While we form habits to make us more efficient, letting them run amuck can tally up to a larger impact.
In the coffee scenario we might find that we enjoy the experience of being around people in the morning and being greeted by a friendly barista, but we should also take a moment and look at what it is costing us from time to time. If you go to a fancier place you can pay as much as five dollars for a latte, and if you tip a dollar that ends up being $120 per month. (Use this calculator to find out how long it would take to become a millionaire at $120 per month.) Now the cost of this ritual may actually be worth it to us especially if we can afford it. For those who look at our bills at the end of the month and wonder where the money has gone, it might be slipping away through our habits. Habits themselves are not bad or good but we want to make sure we are building the right ones into our lives and putting the breaks on the ones that are not steering us in the right direction.