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How to Figure Out If Your Routine is Holding You Back

holding you back

Yup, I know it sounds crazy. But yes, something as simple as your routine could be holding you back.

The one thing that you wouldn’t think to look at, being right under your nose, is keeping you stuck.

You might even think that your routine should be helping you but if you’re not making progress, you’re wrong.

Don’t feel bad I made the same mistake.

Back when compressed work weeks were the new thing I jumped on the bandwagon when my office started offering it.  It seemed like a great idea. Yeah I would have to work longer days but in exchange I’d have a 3 day weekend.

It took some adjustment to come home later but I immediately began to enjoy the longer weekend. I had all these ideas about the things I could do with the additional day.

But somehow it didn’t quite work out as well as I thought it would. Or, at all really.

The longer days took a lot out of me, making me feel like I needed more time to recoup at the end of the night. On top of that, the short evenings meant I had less time to do things that I normally did.

And let’s face it. When it comes to rest and your to-do list, rest always wins.

Since I knew I couldn’t get too many things done during the week, I came up with this routine that push the most important and heavy stuff to the weekend. After all, I had the extra day now.

The only problem was it became too much to do in such a small window of time. And that fact that I had to do it back to back didn’t help either.

I couldn’t complete everything. I was either too tired, busy or overwhelmed. I thought it wouldn’t make a difference that I was squeezing everything all into one day but it did, and it was showing.

I wasn’t getting anywhere. I mean like no progress at all. And whenever there was a little something it was at a snail’s pace.

I knew it would take me forever to get things done. That or I’d quit from exhaustion before getting anywhere near the finish line.

Goals Become a Burden

What I thought was going to be the best thing ever overall, ended up being the worse thing for my personal goals.

And at first it was kind of hard to distinguish. I mean I was working the same number of hours a week, it’s not like I increased my load. I didn’t see how shifting my hours from here to there could have such an impact on how much I could get done.

But after a while it became clear that it was my routine. My new work schedule just wasn’t working. I was doing fine at work but outside of that I was stuck.

From the time I started that work schedule to the time I ended it I probably made about an inch of progress with my goals.

I felt like I should have made leaps and bounds but my routine was keeping me in the same place.

Somehow my goals just became a heavy load that was getting harder to carry.

Who knew that the routine I took on in hopes to be more productive would do everything but that.

And it’s not like it was noticeable instantly. No, no, no, no, no. There were some pros to the compressed work week so I found a way to get comfortable with it. So comfortable that it took a while to notice where it lacked.

When you get into your own routine, whether it is voluntary or involuntary, you find a level of comfort in it.

You like it, even if you know it’s not good, because you know what to expect. There are no surprises, you’ve perfected it.

So when it’s actually holding you back in a way you don’t take notice.

Hit With a Ton of Bricks

Actually I didn’t even bother to check if my routine was meeting its purpose until one day it hit me.

The deadlines for some of my goals were coming up but I didn’t even have a plan to carry them out. I began to wonder how so much time had passed without me getting anywhere.

Then I realized I made a routine to allot a larger block of free time, but I was having trouble using it effectively. It was great in theory but in practice it was just too hard to maneuver with everything else.

This mistake was pretty big, and life changing for me. I didn’t check my work.

It was like in math class, you complete the equation to find out the value of x. But to make sure you’re right you check your work.

Why do you do that? Just because you found a value for x doesn’t mean it’s the correct value.

Now whenever I do something, probably anything, I make sure that it’s serving its purpose. And that’s what you have to do.

When you’re stuck you have to look at things to double check them. Compare your goals to your routine.

If you continue your routine as is will you meet your goal in a reasonable amount of time? If not, you need to adjust things piece by piece until the dots connect to your goals.

If you don’t you’ll just remain stuck in the same place. You’ll be trapped in your own hindering level of comfort.

But you can’t let that happen any longer because you’ve got big things to do.

Here are some steps to help you figure out if your routine is holding you back.

1. Pay Attention to What You’re Doing

I know it seems kind of stupid to say that but you’re probably not doing it.

You’re so used to doing your daily routine that you don’t even think about it anymore, let alone pay attention. It’s just natural to you. You just do it.

But you can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong. And since your routine is accomplishing some things you have to pay extra attention to figure out where it’s not.

The last thing you want to do is change something that is actually working.

So tap into the present, become more aware and monitor your habits.

2. Pull Out the Obvious

Now after you’ve study your routine, here comes the more interesting stuff.

Everything you do should serve some type of purpose or accomplish something. Some things will be obvious as far as being counterproductive for you.

Those are the things you’re going to want to change immediately.

Take my friend for instance, she hated the amount of weight she had gained and wanted to shed the extra pounds.

The only problem was she kept drinking cocktails, which we all know are loaded with empty calories and making unhealthy food choices. It didn’t work for her weight loss goals but it was a comfortable routine she enjoyed.

It’s obvious anyone would have trouble losing weight on that kind of diet plan.

You’ll be surprised by what you let happen right under your nose.

3. Dig a Little Deeper

Once you’ve got the obvious stuff out of the way things get a bit more intense. The easy stuff is done but you have a little more work to do.

You have to take a deeper look and see if you’re getting what you want done.

Like a said before, every task accomplishes something but is it productive for you. The real question is if you carried on the same routine everyday would you be happy with where you ended up.

Take watching TV every evening after work for several hours for instance. Sure you’re entertained. Yes you get to relax and lighten up after a long day at work. But how does that help you decide the best options to select for your 401K?

You want to set up your future appropriately but you’re not taking the steps to make that happen.

Sometimes you have to sort through things to find out what’s a better use of your time.

Hey, maybe you don’t have to cut out the TV completely. But maybe just not watch re-runs every day, you’ve seen every episode already so…

4. Do Some Tweaking

Now you’ve done all the mental checks, it’s all about action.

Out of what’s left in your routine, switch things up to see what works best.

I’m sure you’ve read and learned about doing things differently, now’s the chance to test them out.

I used to do my most important tasks like paying bills and checking my accounts towards the end of the night. Sometimes the things that I did earlier would take so much time and energy that I didn’t have time to check finances.

I found myself having to push it off until the next day, then the next and so on. These things were important and had to be done in a timely manner, every time. So in order to stay on top of it the way I needed to, I had to tweak my routine and do it first.

5. Take Notice

Here is where I screwed up with my compressed work week fiasco.

After you’ve made the changes and done the tweaking keep an eye out for what is happening.

Look for anything that is different from before, good, bad, whatever. Pay attention to your mood, the outcome and the time you’re spending.

Are things getting better? Ask yourself, is this new routine bringing you closer to your goals?

If so, yay! Your routine is no longer holding you back. If not, rinse and repeat these steps until you make progress.

Don’t Be Held Back

Initially it can be mind-boggling how your own routine, as simple as it may be, can you holding you back and keeping you stuck but it can.

If your goals aren’t being met and you’re not even making progress on them it because they aren’t a part of your routine or you aren’t giving them enough time in it.

If you don’t take a look at it and make the necessary changes you will be stuck in the same place forever. You can’t do the same thing every day and expect a different outcome. That is the definition of insanity.

It just doesn’t work.

Instead do something that does. Create a productive routine for your day and stick to it. Make sure it includes the steps for reaching your goals.

The things you do or don’t do every day determines your destiny. Make sure you’re headed in the right direction and not standing in the same place.


Tell me…

Was yesterday’s routine one you should be repeating?



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About Lea

Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!

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  • Hi Lea

    I have discovered that my routines are becoming overwhelming so this post is is so timely. You are right and I love the tips you have shared.

    I have begun to take notice of my routines and discovered some of the routines that are holding me back. I am on the process of creating a better routine that won’t make me tired or lousy.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Lea

      Hi Ikechi,

      Thanks so much! I know what you mean. At one point my routines weren’t quite working. I just had to keep making adjustments, instead of waiting for something to happen.

      Glad to hear you’re working on. Just keep tweaking it until you find something that truly works and meets your needs.

      Thanks for commenting.


  • Hi Lea,

    Great post.

    First off, an extended work schedule sounds really hectic. As you found out, it may be good in the beginning, but it probably takes A LOT out of you.

    I think we all get into some sort of routine … and because we’re so immersed most of the time, we’re barely able to recognize if it’s working or not. That’s why I’m a heavy believer in planning a schedule a week in advance and switching it up week to week. That way, you won’t get overwhelmed or overworked.

    Really great post you shared here. And your tip about doing some tweaking is very true. No matter what we do, we have to constantly adjust to make sure it’s best for us — pr that something gets the necessary attention it deserves.

    – Andrew

    • Lea

      Hi Andrew,


      I swear it was good for a while lol, but not for everything I had going on. A compressed work week isn’t for everyone, or every line of work.

      Um, I tend to make a schedule day by day or even a couple of days in advance but I never thought about a week out. That’s an interesting concept.

      That is the truth! You don’t want to find out later that you were busy for nothing.


  • I’ve gone through several routines the last few years. The 1st one was working 9-5 and supposedly using my down time to do side hustles. The 2nd routine was strictly working on my side hustle after quitting my 9-5. My 3rd and current routine is working my 9-5 and actually using the down time to work on other things. So far so good with the 3rd routine. It is working great for me wright now. I guess I had to go through the 1st two routines to help me get focused.

    • Lea

      Hey Jason,

      Yeah, sometimes you do have to cycle through a number of them before you find one the works for whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

      Godd to hear you found one that works well!


  • Another wonderful post, Lea
    Nowadays, I have incorporated jogging in my daily routine. It forms a base for a wonderful day ahead. After jogging, I feel fresh and lite.
    I was not enjoying my earlier routine. It was very monotonous. So, I thought of starting a day with a refreshing start.
    I always keep a plan of my day. I look after different things. In this process, I understand the significance of the changes.
    Thanks Lea for sharing your personal story.

    • Lea

      Thanks Yatin!

      That sounds good. When you don’t enjoy your routine it can become harder to maintain. Glad you found a good way to switch it up.

      Thanks for sharing what works for you.


  • mark newsome

    What a truly excellent and extremely practical post Lea!

    As I read your post, I could see and totally appreciate how
    you were finally able to conclude what you needed to do and why.

    However, for some odd reason, when it comes to shining that very same spotlight
    on ourselves and our very own daily routine, it’s somehow not so obvious
    what needs to be done!LOL!

    Funny how that works, right? You’ve offered some extremely helpful and practical advice!

    And truth told, it’s extremely straight forward and non complicated!

    All it truly takes, is the resolve to start in earnest and the self discipline to
    follow through! Great job as always, thanks!

    • Lea

      Thanks Mark!

      It really isn’t lol. Its so much easier to see someone else’s flaws, but hard to see our own.

      Thanks again. I appreciate the feedback!


  • Hi Lea,

    Thanks so much for sharing your ups and downs with your routine. I’m sure that we all went through this. I know I have lol.

    I find that one of the best ways of teaching others is sharing what we have done in the past that taught us a wonderful lesson as you did here!

    I remember when my routine was taking things day by day…Needless to say it didn’t work out! But routine is important to make an effort to follow. When we look at all the “free time” we have and acknowledge what we are actually doing with it, we then can make a good start.

    I’ve gotten pretty strict with my routine. Even as I write, I do have visitors here, but they don’t fit into my daily business routine. Sure I want to play on the beach spend more time with them, but I don’t until I finish my work.

    When we are solopreneurs it is not easy for others to understand that we work from home. But keeping a routine, and doing the most important thing first, will free our time.

    Thanks for a wonderful share!


    • Lea

      Hi Donna,

      It was quite an adjustment, but the hardest part was figuring it out. Thanks!

      I too find that a story can be a very helpful illustration.

      So true! Sometimes you even realize that you don’t have any “free time” because you’re busy doing nothing in particular.

      That’s great Donna! I try to implement the same kind of routine. There are only a few instances where I let distractions interrupt me. But I try to pad in time to put out fires.

      Ugh, tell me about it. When I tell people I work from home the first thing they think is me lying on the couch all day. But it honestly takes real displine to be productive at home, that’s why a proper routine is essential.

      Thanks so much for commenting. I really appreciate it!