Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S2 EP33: “To Routine Or Not To Routine”

To Routine Or Not To Routine

“To Routine Or Not To Routine” Brief Summary of Show: 

To routine or not to routine? That is the question. Do you start your day with a routine? Or are you not a routine person? In this Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans podcast episode Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo discuss the power of being deliberate with your routines, why to start to your day with a routine, and some tips to take your current routine and turn them into powerful routines to create a life of fulfillment, enjoyment, and achievement.

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“To Routine Or Not To Routine” Transcript:

I think sometimes when we think about routine, should it start right away in the morning? Or is it something that you feel routine should have in the afternoon, in the evening? Cause I, just using that phrase, I think there’s an opportunity where if you don’t start with routine, how could the rest of your day look? What could the rest of your day look like, right?

[Voiceover] Is the thought of being imperfect keeping you from taking action? Welcome to inspired action for imperfect humans. Each week, we give you real life stories and thought-provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life through your own actions. From the heart of Calgary, Canada, here are your hosts, award winning coaches, Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.

Welcome. Welcome once again to another exciting week of podcasts with the infamous, the one and only, the greatness, the most amazing hi, all that is perfect in the world. Me and Christopher Lawrence.

Yeah, exactly. Sometimes working with you is like working with a child. And it’s not because you like to have fun, it’s because I constantly am like following you around and it’s like, hey, remember for like the last six months, this is how we did our podcast? And you decide today, you’re just going to do something different, even though it doesn’t work for our audio. I’m just.

Yeah, notice how I am, you do that, because that seems to be your routine. To always criticize me, to always punch at me at something. To always remind me and these are the things, and sometimes we do these things without even knowing we’re doing it. It’s an automatic. Have I beaten up Kyle today? Have I punched at him today? Have I, you know, and folks, this is what I’m under. This is what I’m under.

I wonder if Kyle created more routines, if I wouldn’t have to chase him around to do his job in his place. Thank you.

That’s actually a really good question. That speaks to our podcast today, actually about should I routine or should I not routine? I’m laughing only because those who are watching the video can see what he’s doing that is causing me to giggle because I think he’s trying to see what a facelift would look like.

I totally am. I’m at that stage where it’s like, I get like bags under my eyes all the time in my life. And it’s like a double set of bags, you know.

Bags on your eyes is supposed to show wisdom that you have experienced.

No, that’s crow’s feet. It shows that you’re old and tired.

There is nothing tired about you, Christopher.

That’s not true though.

Okay. Listen, let’s get back to routine.

You know what’s exhausting? You.

What is your morning routine?
What is your morning routine?

That’s a routine for you, apparently. Again, that’s how we started today’s podcast, but let’s just go back to routine. So I’m curious, what is your morning routine? Like if you think about it?

Well, this is the thing. So I mean, it’s not really different from anybody else’s. You know, I get up, I do a little bit of exercise. I have a shower, I eat, you know, the whole bit. But actually I thought it’d be kind of interesting. One of the things, I’m going on vacation later today. Vacation, whatever that means in these times.

As an entrepreneur, too.

I’m going to see family, which is like, is that really vacation? I don’t know. I guess it depends on your family. But I am taking some time away from the office, would be more accurate than saying vacation. But one of the things that I can do that helps me enjoy my vacations is that I establish routine really quickly. So like when I get into a hotel room, I like get everything super set up the way I want it. And I establish a routine really quickly. Like I can establish routines like that. So new routine, this is what it’s going to look like. And it’s usually just a slight adaption from what I do at home, but I typically keep it the same thing going. And I find what that does for me is it just, it helps me enjoy the vacation a little bit more. Like, listen, I’m all about kinda like glazing about once in a while, but it’s just like, I find that if I start the day, right, you know, vacation or not on vacation, I just feel better.

Totally. I mean, I think there’s some credence to that saying about, you know, which side of the bed did you get off, right? Like which side of the bed did you come off on? Because there’s that, there’s that.

Sorry. It is not which side of the bed did you get off. Which means something totally different. It’s which side of the bed, like what people say is I got up on the wrong side of the bed.

Okay. I got up, okay but that doesn’t make sense. Okay, hold on. What does that mean though? I got up on the wrong side of the bed. Like I don’t get that because doesn’t people usually sleep on the same side of the bed? Isn’t that a routine? Like someone would sleep on the same side of the bed usually?

It’s a metaphor that people use to describe waking up in a bad mood or waking up and feeling clumsy or tired. It’s like those days, so like you got up on the wrong side of your bed if you, you know, wake up, you spill coffee on yourself, you slip in the shower and you know, and somebody fender bends you on the way to work.

Oh, I really thought, I mean, in my language of translation in my head, I really thought it was getting off the wrong side of the bed because I just figured everyone slept on the same side of the bed and they wake up on the same side.

Kyle Kalloo can speak seven languages, but none of them well. Including his mother language.

I knew you were going to say that. But again, that’s a whole nother topic around translation. How we translate certain things. Okay, so I thought people slept in a routine. And again, and I think what I’m coming back to is, you know, I think sometimes when we think about routine, should it start right away in the morning? Or is it something that you feel routine should happen in the afternoon, in the evening? Cause I just using that phrase, I think there’s an opportunity where if you don’t start with routine, how could the rest of your day look? What could the rest of your day look like, right? You’re saying that.

Should you routine or not?
Should you routine or not?

I typically agree with that. Actually it’s really interesting, I came across a couple of articles here. The question is, should you routine or not? And it seems like, kind of like a ridiculous question, but I think people underestimate the power of being deliberate with your routines. I think that that’s the point and building into those routines. So instead of trying to start a brand new exercise program from scratch, and you’ve tried this a thousand times in your life and every time after, you know, one, three, six, eight weeks you fail. Sometimes it’s like three days. You fail at it. Instead, build it into an existing routine. Right?

And why is that so important? Like why do you think that would be so important?

Because you already have habits. So the way that the brain works is like everything we do is habitual or most things we do is habitual. The way we think, the way we drive, the way, the way we wake up, when we wake up, most of it’s habitual, right? What we choose to focus on, what we practice on, it’s all habitual. And so habits can be changed, but they cannot be… They can be replaced, but they can’t actually be changed. So once a neuropathway is created in the brain, unless there’s damage to that neuropathway, it exists for your whole life. It’s just that it can become less useful. Meaning you create a new habit where the reward is stronger and then the old habit is…

Less desirable.

Less desirable, right? So then you access that old pathway less often and it becomes more uncomfortable to access it. So this is why even people who quit smoking, you know, 20 years later in a super stressful situation might light up just one time, right? Like it’s actually a very understandable thing. And it’s just kind of the way the brain works.

That’s why I liked when you talked about a little bit about the car piece of it. And I use that in some examples as well. Sometimes in our client coaching sessions is, you know, when we get into a car, remember when you first started to learn to drive, right? You just had to hold on. Your seatbelt goes on, you adjust your mirrors, then the signal goes on, you start the car, it’s in park, you do all these things. And you say to yourself now, when was the last time you did that? When was the last time you got in your car and was deliberate about checking those things, right? We know you did it. We know you had your seatbelt on, you know you did those things.

Mostly we just get in a car and start moving after we've learned to drive so it becomes habitual.
Mostly we just get in a car and start moving after we’ve learned to drive so it becomes habitual.

Mostly we just get in a car and start moving after we’ve learned to drive so it becomes habitual, which is a really good thing, actually. Like habits are important because otherwise life would be exhausting. We’d run out of energy. Like constantly being diligent all of the time is exhausting. So habits are important. So I think it’s important actually to understand kind of what a routine is. So a routine is a sequence of actions that you do repeatedly. And routines, I’m just going to quickly find this here. There was a really good definition. Routines, okay, so what’s the difference between habits, routines, and rituals? So habits are things that we do automatically. So checking your email, the way you think, you know, where you put your keys. Routines are a collection of habits or actions that you do on a regular basis to bring order to your day. Right? And so this is why when you’re trying to start a new exercise program or learn to play a new instrument or to do those sales calls that you’re supposed to be doing, but you’re not, it’s actually so much easier to attach it to an existing routine than it is to start from scratch. I’ll give you a simple example of this. Take your supplements while you brush your teeth, because we brush our teeth every day, twice a day, usually. Right? So if you take your supplements while you brush your teeth, you’ll always remember, right? That’s a new habit coming into a routine instead of starting a new exercise program when you get up in the morning, start stretching in bed and then roll out of bed and do some push-ups, that’s what I do. Right? And then eventually you can build into more habitual and routine type things. This is, you know, this isn’t the same for people who are just like, they love exercise. They can do it any time of day, blah, blah, blah. We’re talking about like new habits, new routines. Same thing with your thinking. Like maybe you’re thinking is, you know, is like, needs an overhaul after being in lockdown for 18 months. And, you know, with all of the stuff coming on the horizon, everything’s doom and gloom these days, I don’t even, you know, I don’t even know how people are making it out there these days, honestly, it’s so tough. But there’s something about establishing a habit attached to a routine of positive thinking. So as an example of this, when somebody comes into my office and we’re just having a casual conversation, I ask them five questions that help them focus on what’s positive for them. Actually the head fake is it’s helping me focus on the present moment and what’s positive for me, right? So that’s what routines are. Rituals are basically routines, but basically the main difference is the attitudes. So a ritual would be something that you add kind of a special attitude or a special feeling to when you do it. So it’s like, you know, like maybe your routine is going for a walk, but they’re making it a ritual would be making sure that you really stay in that present moment that a walk in your day is productive, it’s not a waste of time, right? So basically I would say that that ritual is just like making a routine special, for lack of a better term. And it’s important for people to understand those differences.

And I could see, correct me if I’m wrong. And as you know, I don’t mind being wrong. So, you know, if someone is like family getting together that they’re visiting, like you’re going to visit your mom and other folks on your staycation, but going to be somewhere else. There’s things that you guys will do together, right? There’s things that you guys, you know, although you’re spending time together, you’re going to make it deliberate that you guys want to do something. And there’s certain things that you guys often do together. Right? Would that be something as a ritual? As well as maybe some routines as well?

I think so. I think it depends on the perspective that people hold, but I’m actually more interested. What are your routines? Like things that might seemingly not be like, I’m wondering actually, if you could talk about cooking and baking, because I don’t think people see that as a routine, unless it’s like they come home and maybe they have kids and so they always cook the meal and maybe it feels like a bit of a grind, but it’s different for you. I think actually when it comes to cooking and baking for you, it’s ritualistic.

There's certain methods and certain recipes, especially when I'm making like Indian food.
There’s certain methods and certain recipes, especially when I’m making like Indian food.

Oh, it totally is. Because a lot of times it’s, you know, I’ll feel for certain things and there’s a connection with that thing. So for example, you know, there’s certain methods and certain recipes, especially when I’m making like Indian food, you know, Caribbean, Jamaican food, you know, there’s a process I go and I also attach it to a memory or conversation. And that was the other thing I was going to say is sometimes when I go home back in Toronto and I visit, you know, with my mom, we’re deliberate about cooking together and talking about stories about cooking together, right? Or around when she first learned something or when she taught me something or, you know, she would say, you know, nanny, grandma loved this. Like this is when she first met tea tastes this, right? And my grandmother did that a lot too, right, even when I told her what I made, it usually goes into some things around the food itself, which I find is just like you were saying, the attitude about it. I find immense relaxation and pleasure going through the routine of cooking. The prepping, making the food, tasting it. All that stuff that goes with it, the type of things. Although there’s times I may have deviation to a recipe or what have you, the routine of making it, or sometimes the ritual that gets evolved is actually quite fulfilling for me. And I know when I talk to other people they’re like, oh my God, the routine of cooking every day and all night and oh, right? It’s not for them, right? So it’s not to say one routine is better than the other. Yeah.

So it’s interesting because when we look at high achievers, there are some things that are a little bit common in terms of their routines. One of them is that they tend to rise early. Although there are exceptions to this. So this is where I struggle with stuff like this, because I don’t want people to force themselves into a box if it doesn’t work for them. Winston Churchill liked to stay in bed until 11 o’clock. He was a high achiever, you know, but many high achievers do rise early. What time do you get up, Kyle?


Yeah. Not me. 6:30. I consider myself a high achiever though.

I think the routine of that is makes consistent. And here’s the thing. My body doesn’t know when it’s a Saturday or Sunday. Like it doesn’t say, oh yeah, this day, no, let him sleep. I just find, it allows me to prepare myself before I get in. So for me it wakes up everything. And so by the time I finished my exercise, by the time I do my meditation, my relaxation, my quiet time, by the time I get to work, I’m ready. I know some people usually say, oh my God, don’t talk to me until 10 o’clock like, leave me alone. It is for certain people. But I think for me having that routine of I’m up at a certain time, I have me time before I actually have we time is important for me.

I think, yeah, it’s interesting. So there’s a few more here I want to run through. Making your bed is one. I personally find this is helpful in my mindset too. It’s usually one of the first activities that I do in the morning. It’s interesting. I met a veteran who was in his late forties and he never made his bed. And I said, how come you don’t make your bed? And the reason why I say that he was a veteran is because like, isn’t this, like, I don’t know my bias. One of the things that they do, your bed has to be made perfectly, you know. I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just what’s in the movies, but he said why? He says, I’m just going to mess it up again. And I’m like, for me, I can’t detach, like if I don’t make my bed, it feels like it disconnects my day a little bit. Like it is kind of setting the day up better. Reciting affirmations. I think reciting affirmations is helpful. I think that the jury is still out on, the research is still out on how helpful affirmations are and what kinds of affirmation. Certainly there’s been work done on gratitude that shows that it is helpful. Gratitude journaling, but what people miss when they do affirmations is that it becomes repetitive practice. It doesn’t become mindful practice. If you’re not feeling gratitude or you’re not feeling the affirmation, it’s actually not helpful. Do you do affirmations, Kyle?

I don’t. I don’t. Randomly, I will have more of a thought of centering myself, but not as the definition of affirmations, no.

Getting exercise, eating breakfast, taking a cold shower. I think again, like, depending on what you’re doing, I think exercise is important. I think what the research does show is that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick to an exercise routine.

Totally agree.

...Taking a cold shower, same thing, like, yes, there's some benefits to it, but I think it's a bit trendy, you know?
…Taking a cold shower, same thing, like, yes, there’s some benefits to it, but I think it’s a bit trendy, you know?

So finding a way to put that in the morning is usually better for most people, but not all. Eating a proper breakfast. I think that depends actually on your biology. I think sometimes that, you know, that’s the bias. Taking a cold shower, same thing, like, yes, there’s some benefits to it, but I think it’s a bit trendy, you know? And I think that the benefits are overstated. I think a lot of people do it, the stoicism of it and it’s like, okay, well, if stoicism is a part of your ritual that makes it important then go ahead.

Like camping, that reminds me too much of my upbringing, of cold showers because there was no heater, no water warmer. No, I’m all about the relaxation of a warm shower.

Totally. So there’s a few more here that I think people can think of. But I wanted to mention one thing, because as we talk about routines and habits. There’s this thing that says a habit takes 21 days to form. That’s what people say. But actually, that came from one piece of research, I think back in the seventies or eighties, and basically what it said is it was a minimum of 21 days given the habits that they were forming on that.


New research shows that on average, average, habits take 66 days before they become automatic. That’s an average, but some people were able to establish habits in as little as 18 days. And for some, it took as many as 254 days, which means that it makes it hard to figure out how long it’s actually going to take someone to form a habit. These were for health behaviors, by the way. Health behaviors. You have to remember that some habits, some habits and routines are more complex, right? So like some, like exercising is not just one habit. It’s a series of habits. It’s getting your gym clothes ready, getting your shoes ready, getting your water ready, getting to the gym, getting changed, getting in the gym, doing the actual exercise, getting out.

Which exercise?

That’s it. And so that’s a series of habits that form the routine. And so of course, some people could form a habit shorter than 18 days, but some people it’s actually gonna take longer than 254 days. What they found in this particular study was on average, it was 66 days of consistent compliance, which brings credence to things like mini habits, right? Starting small and building up rather than going hard and fast. So I think it’s really important for people to look at this. I think that when we look at our routines, we can, you know, we have routines, we all have routines, that’s how the human mind works. Even with people who experience short term memory loss, it’s really fascinating because, you know, maybe later they’re in an accident or have a stroke or whatever and they have short-term memory loss. They can still be found doing habits that they had before, but they don’t even know why they’re doing them.

Right, yeah. It comes back.


So the question is, should you routine, or should you not routine? And from my perspective, it’s yes. Christopher, what do you think?

I don’t like the word should. However, I think it might be helpful for people to consider how they could take their routines and turn them into powerful routines that create a life of fulfillment and enjoyment and achievement. And remember, you know, I think we’re so achievement driven. Sometimes achievement is about being in the moment and experiencing it. Like all of life isn’t about being a high achiever.

Love it. Until next week, take care.

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It feels really good to cross stuff off of the list, but then we’re not necessarily actually doing things that add value to our life. Hashtag story of my life.

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