Ritual or Routine?

July 18, 2022

Do your colleagues know when you will have your morning cup of caffeine? Do your neighbors know what time you will arrive back home today? If you wake up at the same time every day, take the same route to work, sit in same spot on the train, or use the same machines at the gym, you are probably like the rest of us and more predictable than you realize.

For as long as I could remember, my granddad never worked. He was retired from the military and had extra time on his hands to look after myself and my siblings. Most of my summers were spent going to the corner store to ‘play his numbers,’ getting fast food, and visiting Home Depot to grab some things for whatever project he was working on at the time. Though not necessarily in that order, the routine remained the same.

According to this SWNS Digital article, a survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by Wrangler found 1 in 5 had been sticking to the same routine for well over a decade, 80% saw themselves as ‘creatures of habit,’ and 51% went so far to say that their day-to-day lives resemble the 1993 classic film, Groundhog Day.

Since my memory is not the best, I tend to stick with the status quo, but I’ve realized that being open to change can help us reevaluate our choices or have new experiences. Recently I decided to shake things up with a small part of my routine. I have a favorite parking spot at our office, close to the elevator, of course, where I parked every day. Recently I decided to park on a different level in a completely different area, and that small change inspired me to start taking the stairs. For me, that was a drastic change!

Technology is an ever-increasing part of our daily lives and an important area to reevaluate and improve our old routines. It is easy to let our normal ways of operating get in the way of our digital safety, and just ‘going through the motions’ may lead us to be less vigilant. This may mean saving passwords to our devices, hastily clicking on links in an email before reading thoroughly, or not opting out of sharing our location or search history with interested companies. Spending even a small amount of time creating better digital habits pays large dividends.

Our love of predictability can also affect us as investors, especially during times like these, when markets and inflation are headed in opposite directions. This recent Forbes article has three important reminders for us. Perhaps the most important and challenging is to keep perspective, but “while the natural instinct is to focus on the market being down by more than twenty percent from the recent peak, looking at a more extended timeframe can help frame the situation better.”

So, go shake up your routine! Take it from someone who enjoys anticipating possible outcomes and having a steady routine. If you change just one thing, your life may unfold in the most unexpected but amazing ways.

Tajana Harrell