How to Adjust to a New Routine When You’re an Introvert Who Hates Change
Most introverts need plenty of time to process new information, and that includes adjusting to new routines.
Confession: I kind of fall apart without a regular routine. I’ve always longed to be one of those spontaneous, seize-the-day types. But alas, I am not. While I have made strides in easing up on my rigidity, consistency is still where I thrive. And I think other introverts can relate, with the way we love deep thinking and planning things out.
At times, I know my routines will have to adjust, like with the change of seasons. When this happens, I’ll literally feel my shoulders creep up to my ears as my jaw clenches tighter and tighter. As an introvert, venturing into new things doesn’t exactly spark joy. (Oh, how I wish I could just toss the whole thing, Marie Kondo style.)
But time keeps moving forward, with or without me. At some point, I realized that there is an easier way to move through transitions than kicking and screaming. (My two-year-old continuously reminds me of this by flailing his limp body to the floor in tears every time something ends. Honestly, this is the most relatable reaction.)
Whether it’s back-to-school season, starting a new job, rearranging your schedule, or anything else that’s upending your beloved routines, here are a few pointers I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me weather the proverbial storm of change.
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Tips for Introverts to Adjust to New Routines
Give yourself time to process the new steps of your new routine.
Oh, how we introverts love to process, right? I, for one, need time to wrap my head around new information.
So lean into that tendency and give yourself ample time to think through what things will look like now. Mentally walk through your new routine, what will happen when, and what you need to do in order to prepare.
This is also a good time to consider what has worked, and not worked, for you in the past, as well as to brainstorm ways to incorporate your essentials into your new routine. Allow yourself the time and space to process all the things. Just don’t overthink them too much, as we know how easy it is to do so!
Get out of your (overthinking) head.
Okay, you’ve processed your sweet, introverted heart out and now it’s time to get out of your (overthinking) head. (We all know that once you’re in there, it can be hard to get out.) To do this step, I find it’s helpful to move my body.
So get up, literally, and put one foot in front of the other. Go for a walk, run, jump, yoga, dance, “shake it out” to Taylor Swift… Whatever you’re into, just start doing it. (Also, trust that you’ve thought through everything enough and that it’s safe to move forward. Simply get into that beautiful body of yours and move!)
Be present — take a few deep breaths and just start looking around you.
Learning to be present and in the moment can help ease that new-things anxiety that we introverts are so prone to experiencing. Take a few deep breaths, focus on what’s right in front of you, and engage with your surroundings.
Introverts love to go inward anyway, to quietly enter and never leave the comfort of our own thoughts. But that can also lead to spinning our wheels and going down endless spirals about what may (or may not) happen, or how much we want to run right back to our old routines.
So look up, harness your powers of observation, and appreciate where you are.
Identify your essentials, like meditating each morning or reading a book before bed.
When it comes to day-to-day things, what makes you feel grounded? What keeps you anchored in that I totally got this attitude?
Maybe it’s meditating first thing in the morning, working out before the kids get up, or your favorite cup (or two, okay, three) of coffee before starting your day. Or maybe it’s a walk after dinner, a bath, or reading before bed. We all know we introverts need our alone time. By making these “must-dos” instead of “to-dos,” we can guarantee we’ll get some consistency (amidst the inconsistency) — and time to ourselves each day.
What are one or two things that you absolutely have to incorporate in your day in order to stay sane? Those are your essentials, your can’t-miss rituals.
Get creative — shorten your essentials, but don’t skip them altogether.
If you’re entering a particularly busy season and you’re thinking, “Okay, but how exactly am I going to fit in my essentials? I’ll barely have time to put clean clothes on before rushing out the door!”
First of all, take a breath. Get creative and think outside the box. Take your coffee to go. Do a 10-minute workout instead of a 40-minute one. Sit quietly in your car for five minutes after you’ve dropped the kids off.
You can still do your essentials — and you should, as it’s good for your mental health. You might just have to be flexible with what they look like.
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Learn from your mistakes — what’s not quite working and how can you make adjustments?
You’ve been through change before. What didn’t work? (Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to admit it to anyone other than yourself.)
Maybe you held on too tightly to how things were “supposed to” be. Maybe you couldn’t let go of that Thursday night Grey’s Anatomy habit and missed out on an extra hour of sleep that would have helped you enjoy your new, earlier Friday morning schedule.
Whatever it was, take note as a reminder of what not to do next time.
Similarly, learn from your successes — what worked really well?
Before you get too far down the rabbit hole of your past mistakes, let’s reroute our brains to focus on the good. Think back once again, but this time consider: What did you do that worked really well?
Maybe you were able to keep an open mind. Or maybe you found a new daily planner that worked perfectly for organizing your tasks all in one place. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing. If it was helpful, think about how you can take those same ideas into your current time of transition.
Simplify as much as you can in order to make things easier.
As introverts, we might naturally get discombobulated by change, but what if you could find a way to make things feel easier? I mean, unfortunately, no one is handing out gold stars for being on the struggle bus. So consider asking for help. (I know — this is really hard for us introverts, but sometimes it must be done! Once you see the benefits, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me.)
This could look like delegating tasks you don’t have time for so you can focus on the most important things. Let the house be a mess. Let someone else lead the new project at work. Pick up take-out on the way home (even if it’s for the fourth night in a row).
Find at least one thing you’re excited about.
Even if things seem to be changing for the worse, or you’re anticipating everything being exponentially harder, try to find at least one thing that you’re excited about. What’s one thing that makes you happy in your new routine?
Maybe you can finally try that hip new coffee shop next door to your new job. Or maybe you get to spend more time with one of your kids (or less time, hallelujah! — no judgment).
Just be sure to focus on the good when you feel those “Negative Nancy” vibes creeping in.
Adjust your expectations — nothing is going to be perfect, and that’s okay.
Change is hard — and there is no rule book that says you have to perfectly execute every plan, routine, or schedule you scheme up. Allow yourself to be imperfect, and know that if you feel like you’re fumbling around in the dark, it doesn’t mean you’re failing — it means you’re human.
When it comes to adjusting to change and moving forward, expect it to be rocky at first and don’t see it as anything other than totally normal. Give it time, and as it always does, life will settle down into what feels like business as usual (that is, until the next set of changes come your way).
But, the reality is, we will move through many seasons in life and we’ll have to adjust as we go. While this can be especially challenging for us introverts, it’s not impossible. We can lean on our strengths during this time to get us through — observe what’s working and what isn’t, use those deep, thoughtful insights to your advantage, and find some creative expression to work it all out when things get squirrely. From one introvert to another, you got this.
You might like:
- Why Many Introverts Are Extremely Good Planners
- Why Ritual May Be an Introvert’s Most Important Form of Self-Care
- 6 ‘Weird’ Things Introverts Do That Are Actually Completely Normal
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