How comfortable is your daily, weekly, monthly routine? Are you at a point where you don’t even have to think about it? The alarm goes off at the same time, coffee is auto brewed and ready, and you’re out the door on time on the bus every day. After work you’re at the gym, on the treadmill for 30 minutes, all the while groceries were delivered, then back home to prepare for dinner. Finally, 3 episodes of your favorite binge series, a few pages of the latest book you’re reading, and then bedtime.
Rinse and repeat the days activities. The next day. And, the next day. And, the next day.
After some time, you may find that it becomes more difficult to get up, the snooze button becomes your buddy, and the coffee just doesn’t taste as good as it used to.
The paradox of routine is that we can get bored. While on one hand, routine offers comfort, safety, and reliability. It can also decay at your fulfillment. It’s normal for regular activities to lose their luster and become mundane.
The results can translate into a routine of going through the motions through-out the day, checking out when you’re with friends socially, surfing the web in search of another funny fainting goat video, or becoming uninspired to enjoy your “go to” hobby or favorite activity.
Routine is comfortable and predictable. Whereas a lack of routine can welcome in unpredictability, chaos, and unwanted drama. Possibly resulting in increase of anxiety as well as a host of other experiences that may leave one feeling mentally defeated.
What is the antidote to prevent becoming ambivalent with routine all the while not falling into the trap of letting things decay and falling into the quicksand of stress and anxiety?
Intentionally, disrupt yourself!
Our brains enjoy routine. It means less muscle memory to use and more autopilot. Subsequently, if we allow for too much autopilot, we end up possibly missing out and not experiencing what is important to each of us. Or, when we are put in a situation where we are “out of our element” and the normal “routine” doesn’t work out we can become flustered, stressed, and even short tempered.
For example: Recall the friend or co-worker who “has to have their coffee” before they can talk to anyone in the morning. Without it, they become their less than desirable self.
Therefore, intentionally disrupt yourself. Schedule time, days, weeks, activities, etc. where you are purposely doing the opposite of your normal routine. While, initially, it will feel uncomfortable and even have you questioning “WHY?” am I doing this.
You will ultimately benefit by preparing yourself and flexing your mental muscle to be more tolerant and adaptable when your routine is interrupted. It may also lead to more awareness around how you can possibly do things differently than what you previously thought. You might even find some validation with your normal routine by stepping away from it and realizing how it simplifies your life. Leading to an appreciation for your routine vs. ambivalence.
The change doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to trigger stressful challenges, but it should nudge you to the edge of your current comfort zone. Start by setting up something one day a week where you take a different route to work. Or, use your opposite hand for everything. Maybe even prepare different meals that you wouldn’t normally eat.
The intent and purpose is to inject a dose of change into your routine, flex your mental muscle, and possibly even expose yourself to the idea that there is a different way you can do it.
Now, go intentionally disrupt yourself!