When Routines Become Ruts: Invitation to Change

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Routines provide a lifeline in my sometimes chaotic world. While simultaneously creating a paradox: because those same routines at times drain my energy and quench my joy. When my routines become ruts, it usually means my routine has become an avoidance tactic, as I resist stepping outside my carefully curated safe zone. During a recent quiet time, as I prayed about a current “rut”, a gentle whisper arrested my attention: “What if the perceived rut was actually an invitation to change?”

Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends. Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always. We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning to “be still”, so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.

routines offer security

Though at times routines become ruts, they offer immense benefits. While some people find routines boring and restrictive, psychologists (and parents) know routines provide structure and security. Both children and adults who pursue capricious, unplanned daily activities are characterized by anxiety, overwhelm, and aimlessness.

Designing and implementing a personal daily routine not only provides freedom; but joy, fulfillment, productivity and a sense of usefulness and accomplishment.

calender, coffee on table top

In this way, routines offer security by lending predictability and certainty to our otherwise haphazard days. Routines add a framework to your day within which you function with purpose, clear guidelines, and expectations.

But the same benefits of predictability, order, and regularity which provide security, also threaten to turn routines into ruts through mindless execution.

A slack hand causes poverty; but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 10:4

when routines become ruts

Providing a sense of control over the activities of my day, while contributing to the formation of good habits, routines offer an effortless method for accomplishment. Set routines in hand, requires little thought on my end; keeping overwhelm at bay.

Yet routines become ruts when we spend so much time in autopilot, we seldom notice life’s nuances or venture out of our created comfort zone, resulting in little more than going through the motions.

Mindless living strips life of spontaneous joy, while lulling you into a state of stagnancy. Routines may foster the idea of accomplishment, yet when they become a manner of going through the motions, you have moved from routine to rut.

when a rut becomes an invitation to change

No one seeks extended time stagnating in a rut.

woman with short blond hair looking at planner

Increasing awareness and seeking to remain in the present moments of our days, contributes to fewer incidents of routines becoming ruts. As much as we view ruts from a negative stand point, not all ruts promise inertia.

Though you may determine your own plans and routines, God orders your steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Instead of a place of pointless wandering, ruts become liminal space; a threshold between your created safe zone and God’s invitation into the Faith Zone.

In the space where the every day teeters on boring; when the scriptures seem like a foreign language, and prayers bounce off the the ceiling; instead of resenting the rut, Listen. Perhaps the rut has become a conduit of God’s grace inviting you into a new path.

your rsvp to the invitation to change

Certainly every rut does not signal a divine appointment; but when routines become ruts, a pause for evalution helps distinguish between a need for more awareness and a God invited change of direction.

When you notice an ongoing battle with the stagnation of ruts, try the following mindfulness exercises for insight into the cause and solution.

woman in white dress eyes closed looking up

As always I recommend securing a distraction free time and place; and then a brief five minute or so time of mindful breathing. For a great guide on various mindful breathing techniques, be sure to download my Calming Techniques Guide.

After a few moments, slip into a time of prayer seeking God’s Presence and the Holy Spirit’s guidance for your time. Meditating on a verse of scripture often helps with this; my favorite is Lamentations 3:24. When you feel ready, begin with the exercises below.

cultivating awareness in routines

Conduct a brief review of the particular areas of routines where you feel most stuck. Journal thoughts, bullet list a few things, or simply reflect mentally.

  • Reflect. How present are you when performing this task? Rate your level of awareness with regard to your surroundings and your own senses while performing this task.
  • Release. Is it time for a change; do you need this task or routine now? Does the task or routine require adjustment?
  • Refresh. Shuffle your daily schedule, perform tasks in a different order, in a different room, or at a different time. Be creative. Or take a brief break altogether.

At times we all fall into ruts from the mindless performance of daily routines. Taking time for evaluation and cultivation of awareness offers a way of refreshing the mundane.

listening in the rut for a change of direction.

If making some simple changes still leaves you feeling stuck or stagnate, consider the following exercises for help discerning the Holy Spirit’s nudge toward a new direction.

woman with long light brown hair looking away with white backpack holding a cup
  • Motivation. When did you lose your motivation for this specific task? Note life changes possibly contributing to your loss of motivation. Discern if the shift seems temporary or more permanent.
  • Purpose. Do you feel a general loss of purpose? Do your routines seem unproductive or aimless?
  • Comfort. Do your routines feel more like a refuge than a place of growth? Does the thought of changing or eliminating a routine cause anxiety?

As you continue wrestling with these questions, seek God’s clear direction for your routines committing your way to Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a willingness to change or eliminate any routines, so you can move in the direction of God’s will in this season of your life.

When routines become ruts: an invitation to change

Whether your routines become ruts from spending too much time on auto-pilot and not enough time staying present in the moments of your days or, as an indication of the need to step outside your safe zone into a Faith Zone; making time for listening to God brings much needed refreshment.

Instead of fearing or becoming frustrated with the liminal space of your ruts, boldly lean into the unknown for greater awareness and fulfillment in existing routines. Remaining open to small changes as well as a God inspired invitation to change direction.

Ultimately, as an eagle stirs up its nest, encouraging young birds to fly; God disrupts and dims our best laid plans that we may learn new habits, mature spiritually, and move in a better direction by faith.

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All content is copyrighted and the intellectual property of Donna M. Bucher, Serenity in Suffering 2020.

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