Routines are great things. Unless they’re actually habits. If you’re using your mind and body to act, learn, or change something, this is a routine. A habit is different. Habits we do without realizing. Our bodies automatically move with little or no conscious thought – Like when we flip on a light switch or grab a cell phone from the bedstand the minute we wake up. Or reach for that same mug from the cupboard in the morning.

Over time, habits create channels in our brains. The more we follow a habit, the deeper the channel becomes, and the more likely it is that a thought or action will fall into that channel. Then without realizing it, we follow the same habit and feel the same way. Again.

Routines are intentional. They require mental effort to help support whatever is needed from our physical selves. Routines demand focus. And presence. The mind and body become co-conspirators on a method-based mission. Whether you’re ironing the week’s laundry or preparing for running a marathon, the journey and the outcome is always more satisfying when following a routine.

Perhaps best of all, routines lead to more routines. Our brains actually get re-wired. Channels are shallow because they are always being replaced by new ones. We start THINKING differently and ACTING differently. And we all know the world is a better place when people are able to change the way they think and act.