The Power Of Routines

"Show me your routines, and I'll show you where you're headed."

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Whenever I consider the content I create, whether thats a written article, a daily Instagram story, or when I take to a stage, I always like to speak and write and communicate from the heart, and often from lessons that I am learning in my personal or professional life. And when it comes to routines, they have been the bedrock of my stability, they have given me a clear foundation and a baseline to stay consistent, protect my energy, and improve my mental health.

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I have said before that during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of us faced national lockdowns and were prevented from doing certain things, it was my ability and determination to create new and lasting routines that saved me from near depression as well as deteriorating mental health. I have also come to know that if you suffer from anxiety or other mental health challenges, routines are like oxygen, they keep you on track. When I carry out my daily routines, it gives me the momentum to keep moving the needle forward, keep turning the dial, and progressing in our own personal journey.

In the dictionary, a routine is defined as a sequence of actions regularly followed. I encourage you to pause and reflect on what current routines are you following, and also ask yourself why are you following them, and how much fruit they are producing in your life. I always challenge people to look at the reward a particular relationship, responsibility, action, or routine produces, because if there is none or very little being produced, then why the heck are you persisting with it.

Much of my routines are found in my mornings. Most of the foundations I lay are from the moment I wake up, which is when I have a glass of water with a squeeze of lime, or sometimes with some apple cider vinegar, and I thank God for giving me a new day. I then go for a walk, perhaps for an hour, and be in nature. Such steps help me set myself up for success- that's what I believe the power of routines gives you. It helps prime us for dealing with the challenges of the day, in that when we are faced with uncertainty, we are able to endure and be resilient, because the consistency in our everyday habits helps us push forward during rocky times.

One woman whom can testify and back up my thoughts in finding power in routines is Sandra Gonzalez, a former US marine who now helps ambitious women survive and thrive in life and business by helping them develop a warrior's mindset. Excerpts from my conversation with her:

Image via Sandra Gonzalez.

What has been the greatest routine which has given you the greatest results?

I would have to say it's my ability to self-motivate. To do the things that must be done, even when I don't want to. An example is what I share on my daily Instagram stories. I share how important it is to establish a morning ritual or daily routine, if you will. Getting up early. One of the things that has helped me is getting up earlier. I actually get up earlier now than when I was in the Marine Corps. I get up at 4am, because the mental bandwidth I have to think clearly, the silence the morning gives us with no distraction- so, to answer your question, not to deviate from what you asked me, but it's in the little things that we do. Getting up early and making that bed, it's one of the things I share on a daily basis on my social media channels. It's very powerful to get up early and make your bed, because you get the sense of accomplishment. When you have that sense of accomplishment, its tide to your self-esteem. When your self-esteem is strengthened, you're going to be more confident to go forth, and carry out the things that must be done. Getting out there and exercising, getting out there and doing whatever it is that we have to do. If we incorporate those daily routines, that will strengthen our self-discipline. It's all tide to self-discipline. But it's the little things that have helped me, that gives me the end result I'm looking for, because its tide to my self-discipline.

Why do routines improve and strengthen your mental health?

The right routines, which I call high caliber habits, strengthen your mental health. So, it's incorporating the right high caliber habits that will strengthen your mental health. If you get up late, you wake up frazzled and dazzled, and now you have the sense of, "OK, well, now I'm late to work." Or you're stressing- you're already waking up in a frantic state. Had you woken up 30 minutes or an hour prior, you wake up with a little bit more time to set the tone for the day. How you set the morning, sets the tone for the day. It's tied to mental health for some of the reasons that I've already explained, but your self-esteem is everything. When you strengthen your self-esteem, you feel better about yourself, and when you feel better about yourself, then chances are you're going to want to go to the gym to strengthen your body. You'll get in the car in a more relaxed frame of mind, and you won't experience road rage. Its tide to mental health in many ways, but it's also incorporating the right routines that make a big difference.

Do you find it easier or harder to follow the routines of others or the ones you've set for yourself?

That's a good question. I would have to say, going back to the Marine Corps, it was so much easier to follow some other routine because it's already structured. They've already structured it in a way where, you know, "Hey, Marine, we need you here at six o'clock in the morning, we're going to have our first physical training session of the day." It's already laid out for you, and you just kind of have to follow suit. Whereas if I were to follow my own routine, humans have a tendency to get complacent. Therefore, when complacency sets in your brain begins to tell you, "Why are you going to get up early, Sandy? You're a retired Marine. You don't have to get up at four o'clock in the morning." Your brain is trying to keep you safe. I would say it's much harder to follow your own routine, than somebody else's. I hope I explained that!

You identify yourself as a "warrior goddess." What does that meant to you, and why does it resonate with your identity?

You know, actually to be quite honest, I didn't identify myself as a warrior goddess. Over the years, women have said to me, "Oh my gosh, you're like this warrior goddess!" Women have brought that up to me as they said, "You're a warrior goddess." And I would say it's the ability to harness my masculinity and my femininity so that it serves me. You know, as a warrior, I'm going to continue fighting for other people. Whether it's weight loss, or wanting to be a better mom, or a better entrepreneur, I'm a warrior in that aspect, and I'm going to fight to ensure that I'm fighting for whatever they want. That's why I served my country for 20 years. As a goddess, I've learned how beautiful femininity is. It brings me to tears.

Whether it's through daily routines or a daily habit, what helps us make the right decisions and choices for our life?

I would have to say that decision and choice is coming from your gut intuition. This is why it's so important to develop a daily routine, because in doing so, you will self discipline yourself to listen to what is calling at you, not what is clawing at you. Having said that, now you're going to be able to make decisions based on your intuition and knowing that, "You know what. I'm going to get a divorce. I'm going to be OK." That's why routines are so powerful. That's what I tell my clients, "Show me your routines, and I'll show you where you're headed." It's our habits that get us to our destination.

Related: Life Lessons: When You Hurt The Most, You Grow The Most