Was ich am meisten fürchte ist, dass mir die Dinge zur Routine werden.

Does the word “Routine” have more of a negative connotation in German than in English? I think of the word in English as being neutral to perhaps even positive in connotation, but here it’s translated as “rut” which has a strong negative connotation, i.e. as getting stuck or feeling like you’re going nowhere.

Is it the word “Routine”, or the context of the sentence, or both, that is giving it this negative connotation?

It only has a negative connotation when it is used in a negative context, as in the sentence above.

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Thanks, that’s still interesting to me as this is more of a negative connotation than we see in the range of meanings of “routine” in English. It would be very strange, for instance, say: “The thing I fear most is getting into a routine.” Usually, at worst the word has a neutral connotation, such as: “Things have been pretty routine lately.” (here it is an adjective but the idea is the same) This would mean that things have maybe been perhaps a bit boring, but not terribly so to the point of stagnation.

eine Routine entwickeln/haben - getting into a routine

dass mir die Dinge zur Routine werden - developing a routine that ‘‘overshadows its (formerly important) subject’’ (-not sure if that is natural english) such as a therapist routinely treating patients without any regard for their individual history
It’s the ‘‘Dinge’’ here that makes the word ‘‘Routine’’ judgemental. In and of itself, ‘‘Routine’’ is neutral. There would be, however, contexts in which I would consider it imagineable to say ‘‘Ich mag Routine nicht’’, though not as a individual statement but in connection to a previous one.