Sometimes it’s good to take a break. I chose to leave my journals behind on a recent short trip. I wasn’t sure I would find the space and time to do them. Plus, it’s good to re-evaluate what you’re doing on a regular basis to be sure that you’re doing things for the right reasons.
As is often the case with any trip, daily rituals or routines are diminished, altered or even skipped by necessity. I find it takes a few days to re-establish them when you return. This is the danger zone where you’re most at risk of throwing away all your finely-tuned habits and systems. If you’re not paying attention, you get caught in what I like to call The Drift.
The Drift sneaks up on you. You tell yourself that it’s right to ease back into your routine. Often, after a trip, you need to catch up on sleep or adjust timezone so you can’t drop straight back into an early-morning routine. You’ll start tomorrow. The problem is, tomorrow begins on the wrong foot. You’re up later, and you’re back to work. You rush to get ready. Then you’re dealing with the day without the benefit of your morning preparation1. Your day is more scattered, so you work longer to catch up. Your evening stretches out a little and the evening ritual is skipped; it’s already past your ideal bedtime. You’ll start tomorrow…
Now you’re deep into The Drift. Unwittingly, you’re starting to set the stones of a new normal. Before long, you’ll be back to old habits and that permanent feeling of unrest and stress.
You need to course-correct, and soon. Left unchecked you’re going to be far off-course.
Boat captains and plane pilots need to continually course-correct to counter the natural drift of the waves and wind if they want to reach their destination. They cannot hope to do that all at the last minute and end up where they need to be. Instead, they continually correct, while The Drift is still small.
First, refocus on your destination, your why. Be sure you still want to go there. Then start correcting your course. Take the first small step back to your good habits. For me, daily meditation has been my mainstay and is the one habit I continue to maintain throughout. I didn’t do it at my usual morning routine time though. It was more sporadic, an afternoon reset or preparing for sleep. I put that back to where it works best for me—first thing in the morning. I deliberately shortened my ritual; get up, drink a glass of water and then meditate. Just as I did when I first started out to build a better routine.
Do the same for your evening routine. Start with one step, and get to bed early and avoid all the distractions that you can ordinarily handle well enough. Just write a line or two in your journal, setting out your intention to reset.
Each day correct your course by adding the next step back into each routine. The difference, now, is that you can restore everything much more quickly. The habits are still there, the neural pathways still strong and waiting to be triggered. Within a week your positive habits and rituals will be back to the normal you want to be your best self.
After all isn’t this is why you instituted a morning ritual to begin with? ↩