Disrupting routine

I met an old colleague the other day. I hadn’t seen him in over a decade so we had a lot to catch up on – and a lot of laughs, reminiscing about the old days. He couldn’t quite believe how little I had changed either. And that got me thinking. Of course it was a big compliment (who likes getting old?!), but was it less to do with physical appearance and rather that I hadn’t changed as a person? Was this necessarily a bad thing either? If it ain’t broke, don’t fit it right?

Routine is healthy, it helps form habits and generally enables me to feel more in control. But it’s also comfortable and can be detrimental to my learning and growth. Routine can get really, really boring also.

To avoid stagnation, we all need to assess our routines and determine which parts are healthy and where we need to disrupt and force change.

The first step in the disruption journey is to acknowledge that it can be hard. We often have good intentions, but quickly revert back to our normal ways. Some like to go all out and change everything about their lives in a flash. For me, I like the more measured approach of getting satisfaction from the micro-disrupters. Perhaps to switch my evening exercise to the morning or try a new hobby.

I’ll leave my specific ideas and areas to tackle for another post, but in the meantime, here are my three routine smashing operating principles:

Seek out the unfamiliar
How many times have you avoided something because you thought you’d never like it, only to become a big fan? But imagine how much enjoyment you’ve missed out on all those treasures that remain undiscovered.

Try it once
So, seek out the unfamiliar and try it once. If you don’t like it, walk away.

Break the routine, break the habit
If I get home too late, there isn’t time to go to the gym. Then I feel sluggish and so the cycle repeats. Think about how your routine behaviors could be reinforcing negative habits and start your disruption journey there.

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