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The Importance of Daily Rituals & Ongoing "Repentance"

Before I started my business, I had clear and defined daily routines.

These routines helped me start my day off on a good note, and they gave me something to look forward to each night before I went to bed.

Several months ago I left my job, moved cities, and started my own business. There was a lot of stress and busyness surrounding these major changes in my life, and, unfortunately, my daily routines got left by the wayside.

Initially, I didn't notice any negative consequences to this loss, but over time I began to realize it was affecting me dramatically.

My emotions were all over the place, my life wasn't moving in the direction in needed to move, and I didn't look forward to the next morning. 

So, I'm returning. I'm turning back to how I need to be living my life.

The Word Repentance

In Jewish & Christian spirituality this concept is often called "repentance". 

Unfortunately, the word "repentance" has gotten a lot of negative baggage attached to it over the years. It's often used as a harsh, judgmental weapon to force people into conformity rather than a call to live your life well.

The negative use of "repentance" is often hyper-focused on "turning away" from something.

In the world of rituals and habits, people often are so focused on trying to stop doing things that it makes it harder to do new things instead.

Charles Duhigg talks a lot about this process of doing new things to replace old habits in his book "The Power of Habit".

Turning Away vs. Turning Towards

I like to use the word repentance in a much more positive sense. Think of it as "positive repentance". In some Christian traditions, this is framed as turning towards our inherent value and worth as human beings.

In other Christian traditions the focus of repentance is on simply not being bad, awful people. The focus is on turning away from a "sin nature" rather than turning towards who we were made to be.

Perhaps it's just me, but this negative framework simply tears me down and hinders me from moving forward. When we focus on *not doing* and *not being*, it's often harder to *do* and *be* in ways that are best.

So, in the spirit of positive repentance, I've been actively readjusting my routines and habits lately. Here are some of the new (and old) things I'm doing:

1) Morning Reads

Several years ago I started doing this thing where I would read 3-4 new articles every morning. I like to start my day off learning new things, and reading is a great way to get my brain going. 

How do I find new and interesting articles to read every morning? I go throughout my week saving articles that I come across my social media feeds to an app called Pocket. It's basically a digital folder where you can save articles that you want to read later when you have time.

I also use the Apple News app which pulls content from all over the web and sorts it under topics and publishers. 

I usually post all the articles I read each morning to social media and label them "Morning Read 1", "Morning Read 2", and so forth. 

Apple Watch Breathe App

2) Meditation

I've been working on developing the habit of meditation for awhile now but always had trouble making it stick. I tried different techniques and methods, and I even used one of those guided meditation apps for my smartphone. 

My problem was always trying to do too much too soon. Now, I've started small (like 1-5 minutes each morning of focused breathing and mindfulness). Throughout the rest of the day I try to pause and do 1-2 minutes every so often.

It helps calm me and ease some of my anxiety. It also helps me refocus and experience life more fully. 

I've been using the Apple Watch's new "Breathe" app to assist me. It uses vibrations on my wrist to guide me through exhaling and inhaling. Plus, it syncs this data to the Health app on my phone so I can see how much time I've spent meditating and being mindful over time.

3) Exercise

Another hard one. As with meditation, I've learned to start small and work my way forward. I've started with simply 5-10 minutes of mixed cardio immediately when I wake up in the morning, and then I sometimes do 5-10 more minutes in the evening. 
  
I also try to take regular walks around my neighborhood during the day. I work from home at a computer most of the day, so moving around on a regular basis is essential.

Exercise Goal Tracking on the Apple Watch

Exercise Goal Tracking on the Apple Watch

Again, the Apple Watch has been extremely helpful and encouraging in the area of exercise. I set goals, it tracks my movement, and it sends me gentle reminders. 

4) Morning Pages

I learned about the concept of morning pages several years ago, but I hadn't been consistent with it until recently. Basically you sit down and just write whatever comes to your mind without editing anything. Sort of like stream of consciousness writing.

Traditionally you're supposed to write for a set duration, but I don't have any rules for myself here. I just write without any boundaries or requirements.

5) Water

Water Tracking App

Water Tracking App

Not much needs to be said about this one. Drinking plenty of water everyday is good for your health, so I've started tracking my water intake and drinking a lot more.

6) Business Development

Now that I run my own business, everything is dependent upon me. I have no one telling me what to do either. So, I'm building the habit of doing something almost everyday to grow and develop my business. 

Somedays it can be as small as adding some new work to my portfolio. Other days it entails research, looking for new clients, and working on finances.

Discipline, Energy, Positive Repentance

All 6 of these things are hard work for me. They require discipline and energy, but I know without a doubt that they are moving me in the right direction. 

These routines are pushing me to live my life well and to turn in the right direction. They require daily "repentance". Daily turning towards the right thing. 

And, as I turn towards the right thing, the wrong things eventually get left behind because there is no longer room or need for them.

This doesn't mean that I never slip into old patterns, but it does mean my eyes are focused on where I need to go rather than where I don't want to be.

I encourage you to think about how you are living your life and if some changes need to be made to your routines too. I encourage you to live your life in accordance with your inherent value.