Routines serve an exquisite purpose; to keep us on track and running efficiently. They are cultivated through years of knowing what we like or don’t, the quickest way from point A to B and what will cause the least disturbance in our daily life. Our routines become habits and guard us against repeating the same mistakes, squandering time and having to recreate the wheel. We go about our life eating the same foods, reading the same books, watching the same movies and solving problems the same way.
When our routines go left unchecked, we are actively embracing a path of “sameness” and we become stale. We become so conditioned to our routine we see nothing else. Our lives become smaller and our focus more narrow. And while we may find comfort in routine, we are also missing out. We stop discovering and exploring new thoughts, interests and experiences.
For years, I would walk the quickest way to the office. This took me under the ‘L’ tracks where it’s noisy and dirty. I became immune to it and accepted my walk to work as how I got from point A to point B. My pragmatic routine had become a rut. And then one day, I thought, ‘what if I walked along the river’. Yes, it takes a few minutes longer but it’s a completely new experience. There is a great view of the city, the river and people. I’m more observant and each day I notice something new. That was never the case when I walked under the ‘L’ tracks (I was too busy negotiating around pigeons and the homeless). Now, by the time I get to the office, I feel refreshed and energized.
With summer upon us, it’s a great time to get out and break the routine. Here are 5 easy rut busters you can start now.
Shock your palate: Eat a food you hated as a child. It may taste differently as an adult. For me, it was brussel sprouts (I now eat them roasted).
Spice up your lunch: Break bread with someone you wouldn’t normally invite to lunch. Bonus points if it’s someone who you are at odds with. Get to know them as a person. Don’t talk about work.
Throw away the handbook: The next time you are confronted with a challenge, especially at work, resist the temptation to do as you always do. See it from a different perspective.
Make a fool out of yourself: Maybe not intentionally, but do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. A few years ago I sang two songs (badly) at a piano bar. It wasn’t pretty but I knew if I could do that I could easily stand up in front of any group of people and talk.
Seek out some adventure: Do something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t made the time for. For me, it’s kayaking on the Chicago River this summer.