The word routine comes from the same origins as route, suggesting a circuit of behavior that leads you back to the beginning so you can start anew.
I think a successful routine does have that element to it: you will always circle back to the beginning to review the fundamentals from a position of greater wisdom and experience. Looking at a routine, top down, it may indeed just look like a flat circle.
But let’s look at a successful routine from a different angle. Here, it will appear as a spiral upwards. Yes, you are often doing the same rote drills and tasks that you performed at the beginning. But as you grow, your ability to perform those tasks (and the depth of your knowledge and skill associated with those tasks) grows as well.
The process can feel like running in circles, and the climb is so gradual that you may not even feel the elevation change as you climb!
The saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” is absolutely true. But adjacent to that, you also don’t know what you forgot — and in the process of developing new skills and strategies, you will often forget more primitive versions of those things, making progress also feel a bit invisible.
Regardless, if you feel like you’re often running in circles, that’s normal. In fact, that’s healthy, and essential. Just take a step back and look at your progress from a different perspective and you may realize you’ve come much farther than you thought!