Routines are powerful. Habits control most of our life, whether we like it or not. Most of what we do is automatic. If we tracked our behaviour for a week we would realize this to be true.
As a result, one of the ways to take control of our life is to take control of our habits. This doesn’t just apply to our personal life. Habits control our business, and physical health as well.
Every once in a while however it is meaningful to break routine – to do something unexpected, unplanned, spontaneous, just because.
Take a look at your goals. It is likely (if you are actually taking action beyond just wishing and hoping that your life will change) that you have established a fairly well worn pattern of routine about what you are doing to achieve a particular goal.
This is a good thing, because as noted, habits control your life, and if you can establish good habits relating to your business or career activity, you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goal.
Here are the reasons however, that breaking routine every once in a while is a good idea:
- It keeps you fresh, creates variety and leads to a better overall experience. Doing something new and unexpected is like an adventure. You aren’t sure what you will get (since you probably haven’t done it before). This is fun;
- A better overall experience will lead to more engagement and fulfillment in your life (so that your life doesn’t become only results or rewards based). There are psychological studies that suggest that solely focusing on the external rewards of a behaviour can actually decrease your intrinsic motivation to pursue that behaviour long term (see Daniel Pink’s book Drive for example). By breaking routine you can enjoy the process of achievement, not just the results, this is very important; and
- It gives you a view from 30,000 feet for a moment as to whether your routines are actually effective. Sometimes we get stuck in a hypnotic trap of thinking that what we are doing is effectively moving us closer to our goals when in reality it is just a non-effective behaviour that we have cemented into a habit. We think that we are taking effective action, but in many cases we aren’t. Breaking routine can help you to introspect and look back at your habits and see if they are effective or not.
What are some examples:
- Do something tomorrow to market your business that you have never done before but that you have heard other people try;
- Change up your exercise routine just for the day. Try a new exercise. See if you like it; and
- Do something totally unexpected with your family today, or with your partner. This will engage excitement and fun and make life less of a grind.