Examining our routines

At the beginning of 2012, when I was working on my health, I had to look at why I was snacking. What was happening inside and outside of me that made me think eating something was the appropriate response?

The question is, “When I do that, what am I really doing?” That kind of analysis helped me change my snacking. Twelve months and forty pounds later, I’ve made progress. I’m still learning.

But in this series on learning a new routine, it’s too easy to talk about things like weight. So I need to take you to a question from last week.

Why do I look at statistics?

The kind of work I do requires reflection. The words I write have power. They shape how people think, first me, then you. Sometimes the work is scary. I am afraid of where I have to go. When I start to feel a little stress, a little uncertainty about whether I am doing the right thing, without being aware, I distract myself. I look at one of several online statistics or social media sites. I can say “see, this many hits” or “that person needs an answer from me” and then I feel better and can go on.

But look at that more closely.

I don’t want to do the work of writing, because that is personal. That might reveal things first to me, then to you, that I don’t want to reveal. So, in the space when I could be thinking and wrestling, instead I look at external measures. I think, without thinking of course “my value is in what people think of me.”

It’s a quick fix of reputation crack.

It’s a piece of a routine that left unaltered will take me in the wrong direction.

A routine that I can now start to change. Because I looked closely.

9 thoughts on “Examining our routines

  1. hansschiefelbein

    Because you looked closely *and* decided to take action. For me, the reflection often is where I stop. I know the reflection is so important, but I feel success from it alone. As with your weight loss analogy, it was when you changed behavior that results started happening (and congrats on that). Stats are important, but it’s the disciplined action of doing the work, writing the words, reflecting on feedback, and getting back to the writing that makes e difference, because its what He has called and gifted you to do.


  2. Rich Dixon

    This whole notion of routines is challenging me. I’m not what I do, but you’re showing me that I move toward what I routinely do.

    Sometimes I get bogged down in thinking I need to write a lot and getting discouraged. But I look back and realize that what I really need is to write a little, and write well…each day, and let it accumulate over time. Depth, thought, focus… not volume.

    Haven’t read the ebook I downloaded yet…time for a new morning routine.


    1. Jon Swanson

      ah, brother Rich. You understand routine quite well, else I wouldn’t be holding a book in my hands, about a trip. Both take regular consistent work. I’ll cheer for you, you cheer for me.


  3. Joseph Ruiz (@SMSJOE)

    I use the stats as sites as a distraction to avoid doing the work – I am working on routines to confront my procrastinating and focus on the work in front of me. Self examination is important; however, any analysis requires insight which drives the changes in Behavior Hans mentioned in the comments.
    Thanks Jon Happy New Year everyone.


  4. Becky McCray

    Maybe you’re using that action (turning away from the writing for a moment) to give yourself space. Maybe you need a moment before you go back to the writing. And maybe it does matter that someone reads it. Maybe a little reassurance in the moment that this does matter, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Becky and Joe (ruiz). The numbers themselves aren’t bad. And there is a important place for them. In part, I’m working on a Lent book because of the number of people who have visited my site looking for one of my Lent posts. And I treasure the awareness that you two, among others, read.

      But I also know that I misuse the data as well, looking to it for the wrong things at times. So the challenge is to discover the balance. Insight, not identity. Affirmation not addiction or avoidance.

      And happy 2013 to us all.


  5. Pingback: Worn from routine use. | 300 words a day

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