FREEDOM WITHIN A FRAMEWORK
A couple of days ago, I was chatting with a friend about my spiritual practice. At one point she remarked, "Oh, so you like order." My first response was, "Yes!" But in my heart I was thinking, "NO!" So, I had to think about it and then retract my "Yes!"
In truth, I am not much of a stickler on discipline. I just like the freedom that order creates. For me, the best example of this is jazz. In terms of rhythm, pitch and key, it's extremely precise. But in terms of improvisation, jazz is equally free flowing. This particular balance is what some people call freedom within a framework.
The basic idea is that the framework provides consistency and stability. Once you're safe within the framework, you're free to be as creative - and productive - as you can be.
PUTTING OUT FIRES IN THE RAT RACE
If you're like me, you would like to enjoy the freedom without having to manage the framework. It's cool for a while. But sooner or later, the lack of order will catch up to you. Next thing you know, there is all kinds of chaos and you're suddenly running all over the place trying to put out fires. If you have small children - or have ever had to manage a team of adults - you know how frenzied life can get without a framework:
You wake up an hour before work and rush to get ready. You shower at lightning speed, MAYBE gulp down something for breakfast, and run out the door. You get to work, still running and already overwhelmed. To make things interesting, maybe you're also late for a meeting or you're behind on a deadline. You spend all day scrambling to catch up.
After work, you eat dinner, sprawl out on the couch, and binge on social media or Netflix. You fall asleep around midnight, wake up the next morning and do the same thing all over again. By Wednesday, you’re burned out and know you won't hit this week's goals. How do you get out of this miserable rut? How do you create the mental space you need to be more productive and creative? Two words: Daily routines.
The first time I really learned to appreciate how a daily routine creates a creative framework was in college. I wanted to study abroad in Costa Rica but I had just transferred and my GPA was a little too low. I was carrying a full course load and I worked part time. So my time was extremely limited. My schedule had to be air tight if I was going to do everything I wanted to do. I remember writing my daily routine down and posting it on the wall above my desk. I kept another copy on the cover of my binder. There was no room for deviation.
My daily routine paid off! The framework granted me twelve months of tropical freedom and a lifetime of precious memories! Believe me when I say, being productive is just the beginning. The real value of following a daily routine is that it allows you to create the kinds of experiences that will make your life truly meaningful.
How do you want to live? Above and beyond what you want to accumulate and what you would like to accomplish, what kinds of experiences do you really want to create for yourself and the people you're destined to serve?
Daily routines set the stage for success and fulfillment. They help you achieve more, think clearly, and do what actually matters, instead of run around chasing shiny objects and putting out fires. Daily routines keep you from randomly stumbling through your day and make sure you get the most important things done.
All it takes is a bit of discipline, along with a routine that will set you up for real success. Here, I'm going to share my own experience with daily routines so that you can implement your own and start to create more perfect days for yourself and the people you serve.
MORNING RITUALS: JUST GET UP!
I invite you to go do a bit of research on morning rituals. You'll find that most high achievers awaken before dawn in order to prepare for the day. My mother - of blessed memory - used to tell me, "Son, you can get more done before 6 am than most people do all day long if you put your mind to it." In those early hours, you can execute the rituals that prepare you for the rest of the day while the rest of the world is asleep.
I know, I know... You're not a morning person. Neither am I! To be honest, I don't know many people who are. But you can - you should - train yourself to wake up before dawn for the many benefits an early rise can bring. The most important benefit of rising early is that you are granted more productivity with fewer distractions. You get time to think. You will also enjoy greater creativity because you can work when your mind is fresh, before the daily stress sets in. And, if that weren't enough, researchers in one study found that people with morning rituals reported higher levels of positivity and well-being. 
As soon as you get up, bathe and get dressed. If you dilly dally, you'll end up falling back to sleep... Just for five minutes... An hour later, you're later than ever! For about 5 years, I have been waking up at 4:30 am. Once I am up, bathed and dressed, I have time to do my prayers and meditation. If you're one of my clients, I have probably prescribed a morning ritual for you to recall your dreams and plan your day. Before dawn is liminal time, when the world is in between stillness and activation. It's the infancy of your day, when your consciousness is closest to raw, unfiltered mental energy. It's the best time to envision, clarify and plan the rest of your day.
Your end game is just as important as your opening. By implementing evening rituals into your daily routine, you prepare yourself for the next morning, evaluate your performance that day, and give yourself more incentives to get things done the next day.
Before bed, review your day. Start from the evening and work your way backwards, to the beginning. This is an important exercise that I have prescribed to many of my clients with great results. Not only does it increase your memory, but it also helps you come to a better understanding of how things actually unfold. Mike Tyson said, "Everybody has a plan until he gets punched in the mouth." How did you actually respond in real time? Where did you do well? What opportunities did you overlook or mishandle? What prevented you from doing your very best?
The answers to these questions will create more opportunities for you to learn from your experience and make the necessary adjustments for improvement going forward. So, the last thing you do before sleeping is to set your intentions. Psychology teaches us that children grow while they sleep. Teachers know that the mind processes information while you sleep as well. So, things you are introduced to on one day can be well-understood the next. What is the one thing you would like to address and improve upon tomorrow? End the day by sending your mind on an errand to retrieve the answers you need.
It can seem tough to ritualize your day. It definitely takes intention and discipline. Most of the time, it is much easier to just play it by ear and let things happen as they will.
But before you know it, you'll find yourself in a rut. Things will become too random or you'll be trapped in a meaningless rat race, scurrying from work to home to the market to pick up and drop off children at school.
The best thing about creating your daily routine is that you get to organize it around the things you WANT to do. You decide what freedom is for you and then you create a schedule that will enable you to enjoy it!
So stick with the process. You may find it tedious at first, but you’ll find your days will flow much more smoothly when you've committed to quality morning and evening routines.
If you would like support around creating and adjusting your daily routines, let's talk. I would be glad to help you achieve more of what you want.
Live the Medicine
Obafemi Origunwa, MA
Thought leader, Ifa priest and author of four definitive books, Obafemi Origunwa inspires metamorphosis through living the medicine that will heal your life and heal the lives of the people you're destined to serve.