Wake up. Drink coffee. Go to work. Hit the gym. Eat dinner. Go to sleep. Repeat.

Sound familiar? The daily Grind ring a bell? I’m sure at times we’ve all felt this way. Days running into each other with little deviation from the average, highlighted with a change up at Starbucks or the cheat meal dessert of the week.


We’re all guilty of falling into the familiarity of our routines. Repetition feels good; it feels safe. We drink the same coffee, take the same routes in the morning, say the same affirmations, all the while expecting new accomplishments…. I’m not sure that’s how it works.

While playing at Boise, we had all kinds of signs and sayings posted in our facility. The walls of the hallways, locker room, meeting rooms, etc. were filled with motivational pictures, quotes and themes for the season. Each year we would replace certain signs with new themes for the new year; FINISH, ATTACK THE FUTURE, SWAT TEAM MENTALITY.

However, there was one sign that never changed during my 5 years in the program. It was a small sign in the weight room and even though I probably saw that sign 1,000’s of times during my time, it’s taken me years to realize what it really meant. The sign read,

“Don’t Confuse Routine With Commitment.”

Seemed easy enough. “Got it coach, don’t slack off in the weight room.”

And yes, at the most basic level, that’s what it meant. But as I sit here, 5 years removed from Boise State, at a place in my life where there’s a bit of a crossroads, I’m starting to appreciate how much more that sign meant.

Routine vs. Commitment. Same thing? Nope.

Routine – a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

By definition, a routine sounds a bit dry right? Monotonous, boring, repetitive…sound familiar? It sounds like the Grind, but is it?

Routines are important and can be essential to achieving your goals. I’m not going to downplay the role of routine. Especially for myself, routine is essential to stay in a groove. But, routines can get stale, turn thoughtless or can foster complacency. Routine can become the enemy when the routine becomes the goal. Autopilot works great for pilots mid-flight. Cruise control is great on the freeway when you have a ways to go. But, it’s a little less helpful in traffic when you have to adjust.

“Don’t Confuse Routine With Commitment.”

*Picture starts to come into focus*

Routine is a vessel. Creating a routine is a means to help yourself develop good habits that prepare you and help guide you to your ultimate goals. However, it’s your commitment to those goals that create the desired outcomes.

Your commitment is what drives your success. Not the routine.

Commitment – the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.

Dedicated. YOU write your goals down. YOU wake up everyday with the ability to work towards and achieve those goals. YOU have the choice to stay dedicated to your dreams. And YOU and only you can grind to make those dreams a reality.

When I think back to times playing football, it makes more sense. The sign in the weight room wasn’t talking about  slacking off during training (it was to a point). It was a reminder of your commitments. Commitments on the field, in the meeting rooms, weight room, cafeteria; your commitments to the program. That’s how our team achieved success. Commitment to the ultimate goal. Knowing that individually achieving our personal goals and collectively pushing towards the team goals. Every damn day.

“Don’t Confuse Routine With Commitment.”

*Clear picture*

That sign was a warning sign, not a reminder. A warning that routine can feel like progress. Showing up and sweating isn’t enough. It’s throwing your complete self, 1000% into the process because that is your commitment. Your personal commitment to achieving excellence.

Whatever your Grind is, make it YOURS. Decide what your goals are and commit to them. Your routine can help get you there but it’s not a crutch. If you’re starting to feel in a rut, reexamine your routine and change things up. Breathe some fresh life into your routine. But, never forget your commitment. Stick with it, it’s worth it.

Grind On.