According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, routine is one of three steps to building lasting habits. There is a cue (or trigger), then the routine, then a reward. The three steps create a reinforcing loop which as a whole is the habit. Living an adventurous path, a continually pursuing new ideas, methods or experiences, seems contrary to living by routine.
For myself, pursuing humble and mixed terrain adventures is critical to feeling as though I’m living a fulfilling life. However, this pursuit of adventure and the attempt to embrace uncertainty, has placed me in environments that lack the consistent cues I need to develop routines that form the habits I strongly wish to adopt. Waking in a new location every other day, not knowing where to get coffee, reliable wi-fi, where to run — then shower, makes it difficult to initiate triggers and form my desired habits of consistent writing, movement in nature, eating well enough, and spending productive time on valuable work.
The balance I am attempting to create between routine and adventure is a delicate one. I’ve given much thought to this over the last few weeks as routines have suffered during heavier weeks of travel. We’ve driven a lot of miles over the last two months, moving quickly through southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. When we began this experiment of essential and mobile living we stayed in a few places for several weeks before moving on. We spent blocks of time in Stanley and Ketchum, Bishop, Flagstaff, and Prescott, but moved fairly quickly between those locations. In the aforementioned towns we allowed ourselves to reinforce routines while at the same time being adventurous in the discovery of new trails, authentic tacos, coffee roasters and gluten free bakers around town. In these places we felt as though we had a better balance of the work and play. The triggers to get us into our chosen routines were baked into the adventure. A local coffee shop became a consistent morning routine which triggered the writing and working. Views of mountain peaks on the horizon triggered the desire to run through them. The running then became a trigger for wellness and motivation to develop DGCO.
The increased travel of late has thrown us out of routine and caused our goals and intentions to lapse. While our pause in Texas wasn’t ideal for our mental state, it did allow us to re-engage in work and study. There the balance tilted toward the work and the physical movement suffered. This past week we quickly crossed Texas and New Mexico to get back into Arizona. It has been fun and adventurous. We retraced the route we laid heading to Texas and stopped at the small towns, pubs, and coffee shops we enjoyed on the previous journey. We also took the opportunity to check out a few little gems on the road. We stopped in South Padre, Texas, to see the ocean, we listened to an impromptu performance of a Ragtime band in an old haunted hotel in Bisbee, Arizona, and we laced up the shoes and ran some new dirt roads and trails in Sierra Vista and Patagonia, Arizona. We went from a heavy routine of work and stagnation in Texas to a substantial amount of time and energy on adventure and driving.
The constant travel and lack of routine has us considering a change. We wish to pause as we did in Texas, but with a focused intention. We are contemplating an intermission in a location that better suits our need to create routine, to develop work, and to pursue our dirty good way of life. We have lofty intentions for 2018 with trail running races, writing, mountain exploration, and DGCO. We realize we need a basecamp to put in the necessary physical, passion-based, and bill-paying work which will place us in a position to create and take advantage of future opportunities. We want to get back to intentional and purposeful travel and movement, and this may require intentional and purposeful stillness.
Do you live, or wish to live, a life driven by routines and habits, spontaneous adventure, or a strong balance between the two?