How routine is your life? Do you take the same roads, eat the same foods, and talk to the same people pretty much every day? If you’re like most people, the answer is a resounding yes because we are creatures of routines and habits. We often thrive on that repetition and feel that there is some sense and order to the world because of our schedules.
But if I asked you to recollect any of the moments in your life that were wildly fun, fascinating, simply delicious, thrilling, precious, or even just ones that stood out, your answers would overwhelmingly come from the moments that were unusual and off the beaten path of your schedule. The time you and your spouse took a spontaneous road trip to nowhere special. That four-hour dinner you lingered over, tasting every morsel. The vacation you took with your best buds that you still laugh about every time you think of it. That stranger you started a conversation with not really knowing why but feeling compelled to talk to.
It is critical to our growth to break our routines. Neurologically speaking we now know that the brain is malleable and can continue to grow and develop new neural pathways long after it was once thought but the key to that growth is learning and doing things that are new. Similar is true in business – the cutting edge and most successful companies are the ones that continue to push the edges of their work and anticipate new trends and shifts in culture and economy. Inventors live on that edge too, constantly creating bridges for us between what was once and what will be. Psychologically, the only way we change our lives is to change our personal habits, mindsets and actions. You want to free yourself from anger or shame? You do the work to discover its roots and you create new ways of thinking about those things, new habits to help you release those unwanted negative beliefs and replace them with positive, healthier ones that support you in your life. Great teachers who want to truly connect with their students do not teach in the same way to every single student year after year. They keep their style and delivery fresh and they create new ways to connect to students who might need a different teaching style.
Now here’s the best part – we can all do this in small doses every single day! Leaning into the edges of your life, breaking your routines does not have to mean a spontaneous mid-life-crisis kind of adventure every night. Nor do you have to throw out your entire routine and cause harm and wreak havoc on your lives, jobs and families. You can introduce simple, little things into your daily or weekly lives and elicit great results. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as having said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” That would surely shake up your world! But you don’t even have to go that far if you don’t want to. Here are ten super simple suggestions of ways to bring a little more adventure, tap into the unusual and grow your life:
- Drive home a different way and take in the new scenic view – add to this by putting on some music you don’t often listen to and create a whole soundscape to this experience
- Try one different food you’ve never tasted or order a new meal at your favorite restaurant instead of getting the same thing as always
- Wear a color you don’t normally wear (even if it’s your underwear and no one sees it!)
- Buy flowers for your home or for someone you care about – just because - and while you’re buying them, take an extra few moments to really notice the many varieties of shapes and colors...what extraordinary gifts of nature!
- Go to a lecture or concert, maybe something free at the local library or art gallery. Or listen to a TEDtalk or watch a documentary on something you never wouldn’t ordinarily stop to learn about
- Start up a conversation with a neighbor you’ve not taken the time to know.
- Try a different exercise activity one day – even if it’s something you think you’re bad at! Your body and your mind will appreciate the change
- Read (or write) a poem before bed. Why not?
- Change the order of your morning routine – maybe you eat breakfast before you shower today. Just to shake things up!
- Talk to someone new today – anyone! – at work or in your community and open up to the many different people all around you
Whether it’s an intellectual pursuit, social connection, or sensory experience, doing something unusual and out of your normal routine can help open up different facets of your life. Make the most out of your life by seeing things as new, experiencing things uniquely, opening to things out of your comfort zone, and slowing down time by breaking up your routine. Time moves quickly no doubt. Slow down by making the moments count.