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The Power of Routine
By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

In last week’s Thursday’s Thoughts, I discussed how Olympic competitors do not become champions alone; there is a coach behind every athlete.  For Michael Phelps, this was Bob Bowman.  Well, another secret to Olympic success is this:  behind every athlete there is also a strict routine.  In fact, Bob Bowman believed that for swimmers, the key to victory was creating the right routine.
Fox example, on the day of a meet, Phelps wakes up at 6:30 am, puts on a pair of sweatpants and eats an enormous breakfast, the beginning of more than 6,000 calories he will consume throughout the day.  At 8 am, he starts stretching:  First his arms, then his back, eventually working down to his ankles.  By 8:30 am, he is in the pool warming up.  In precisely 45 minutes, he swims 800 meters, kicks 600 meters, pulls 400 meters, does a drill set of 200 meters, and finishes with some 25-meter sets.  Phelps will then put on his clothes and headphones, and listen to hip-hop until the race.  Be it a swimmer like Phelps or a gymnast like Gabby Douglas, you can bet that a perfect routine is the secret to their success.  Routines work because, over time, they become habits that focus the minds and athletic abilities of Olympians on the goal of successful competition.  The gold medals earned by Olympic champions in the Greek games are evidence that the Greek philosopher Aristotle spoke truly when he said, “We are what we habitually do.”

Luckily, routines are not for athletes alone.  We often overestimate what we can do in a day.  There are interruptions, distractions, and moments of lost focus that deter from our work more than we plan for.  On the other hand, we underestimate what we can do over the course of a month––or even a year.  This is where the value of a routine comes in: a routine can help you set your mind to achieve something new with each passing day and therefore ensure the important things get done.  A routine is simply a sequence of actions regularly followed, a fixed procedure––and when you follow a daily routine, you will find you can accomplish more.
The good news is that if you get into a routine and repeat it regularly, with each passing day, the discipline it takes to repeat will decrease until, like Phelps and Douglas, your routine transitions into a habit.  In other words, if you do something one step at a time and repeat this every day over the course of a few weeks, months, or years, incredible things are achievable.
Here are some tips to create a routine:
  • Take your mornings slow.  Allow yourself the time to sit on the edge of your bed, sense how your body feels, and think briefly about what you want to get out of the day, how you want to feel at the end of it, and how you will achieve it, then get going.
  • Set aside an uninterrupted interval of time in either the morning or the evening to aid you in the achievement of your chief aim.  Examples are an hour set aside for reading, or a half hour for self-reflection, or anything that will help you grow or learn.
  • Make your routine definite.  Be specific with lengths of time and exact activities or you will find your routine abandoned.
  • Allow your routine to change over time.  Life changes: You’re kids start school again, or they get their license and you no longer have to chauffeur them, or you pick up a temporary volunteer job, etc.  When things change, adapt your routine appropriately.
  • Learn from your heroes and idols.  Take Phelps for example, is there something you can learn from his routine?  If so, copy it into yours.  Always look at the routines of people you consider successful, and replicate what you admire into your routine.
  • Bookend your day.  For an even greater affect, bookend your day with routines by following a routine before your go to bed as well as one when you wake up.
Gino BlefariGino Blefari, CEO
Intero Real Estate
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