“Do one thing every day that scares you.” This timeless quote by Eleanor Roosevelt dares you to embrace adventure! Adventure is great if you’re Captain Jack Sparrow but what if you’re a mom just trying to make it through the day? Is there any benefit in embracing this mantra? And if so, how do you break out of your routine enough to enact it in your everyday life?
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Mom Life is a Circus
If my roles as a wife and busy mom who works full-time have taught me anything, it’s that life is crazy! On most days, keeping up feels completely impossible. It’s almost as if I’m juggling 7 balls while trying to hula-hoop and jump rope simultaneously.
Needless to say, the circus act which is my life often transforms itself into anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. When these feelings take over, my natural tendency is to attempt balancing the anxiety of the chaos with routine. Routine feels safe. It adds an element of predictability which is otherwise difficult to find amidst the chaos of life.
Routine is my antidote to anxiety.
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I often find myself equating something new or different with bad and scary simply because the outcome is unknown. Routine on the other hand tends to involve the same elements. Mixing the same elements time after time equals the same (or similar) outcomes. Routine = predictability.
Or at least that’s how it theoretically works in my mind. Logically, I know that life is unpredictable. We can never plan for all the possible unexpectedness we’re hit with on any given day. Nonetheless, routine continues to be my response to the constant change inevitable to life.
Consistency, Routines, & Success
Although there are drawbacks to being a routine-oriented person, there are also definite benefits. The biggest actually involves success. The truth is that success always requires effort. True success doesn’t happen overnight and has nothing to do with luck or chance. Consistent effort performed over time transforms itself into routine. Success is then built on the routines constructed from consistent effort. See how that works?
Consistency in small actions snowballs into bigger routines and eventually, huge successes.
Here’s an example of the consistency, routine, success cascade in action. Let’s say you want to get back into shape again after a long gym hiatus. You set a start date for your new goal. You’re committed to break out of your routine of skipping the gym. Obviously new running shoes and workout clothes are a necessity! As is the renewal of your long expired gym membership. Your schedule is crazy busy already but you decide that your gym time will be at 5 a.m.
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Your start date finally arrives and you roll out of bed at 5, tired but excited about your fitness goals. You get dressed and head out the door. The drive to the gym is a short one and after parking, you select the latest episode of your favorite podcast and walk inside.
As it’s been awhile since you last worked out, you’re hesitant at first. You soon hit your stride and motivated by your podcast, have a great workout. You’re feeling slightly more energized than before and feel proud that you were able to break out of your routine.
Although day one went well, you know that the journey doesn’t end here. Unfortunately, it will take more than one day to return to being able to easily run 3 miles or lift without feeling completely spent the next day.
When you initially begin chasing this goal, you will need to make the conscious choice to wake up and sweat. After a period of time however your conscious choice simply becomes something you do. Hitting the gym in the morning will start to feel automatic. It builds into a routine which eventually transforms your health.
If you are that person who thrives on routine, it can be much easier to transform an activity into another piece of your routine. But if you happen to be that person who tires easily of doing the same things day after day, you need to be much more creative in figuring out how to consistently incorporate something new.
Same Old, Same Old
Routines are such a theme for me that my day even begins with eating the same exact breakfast. To be honest, part of the reason why I eat the same thing is because then I don’t have to try to come up with something different. I go through periods where I struggle with meal planning for my family and my kids have eaten way more happy meals than I care to admit. As my kids generally prefer to eat breakfast at school, I definitely do not want to put the time and energy into planning something new for myself. After all, I have gradually adapted my breakfast over the years into the ultimate ratio of protein and carbs to keep me full until lunch. Why mess with something that works?
But could there actually be a benefit in figuring out how to break out of your routine?
Research suggests that our brains are wired to form routines because forming pathways of familiar behavior frees up space for processing other types of information.
When considering it from this angle, it probably is a good thing that I eat the same exact breakfast because I have plenty of extraneous questions and information to process thrown at me by my kids prior to 7 a.m. every morning.
“Mom! Where are my library books? More milk! I don’t want to wear that! Is it going to be warm enough to wear shorts? But I don’t want to wear pants! Did you sign my folder? Can I have candy for breakfast? My tablet isn’t working! More milk! Fix my tablet! I can’t find my library books! But I don’t want to wear underwear! More milk!” All this in the span of about 15 seconds from all 3 of them simultaneously.
My brain has clearly decided that in order to survive and get myself as well as 3 children out the door every morning, a certain amount of automation is necessary.
Break out of Your Routine to Avoid Feeling Stuck
Stubbornly clinging to routine is not always protective though, especially when it blocks us from growing and changing into new and better versions of ourselves. Routine can keep us stuck where we are and prevent us from growing and changing into new and better versions of ourselves. It can keep us stuck where we are and prevent us from meeting new people, exploring different interests, and leading awesomely fulfilling lives.
Routine feels safe and gives a false sense of control over our lives. I once read a statistic that most car accidents don’t occur on unfamiliar roadways but rather those that are only within a few mile radius of one’s house most likely because we let our guard down due to this false sense of security in the familiar.
Breaking out of routines helps prepare us for the unexpected in a way that the “same old same old” never will. Another bonus of leaving the familiar behind is that trying new things becomes easier and easier. I can tell you that since I’ve started actively looking for new experiences, especially those that scare me, it has become less and less scary to say yes.
Stepping outside routines also improves creativity because it challenges us to think in new and different ways. So how does one go about breaking away from their deeply ingrained routines and comfort zone? Surprisingly, it can start with only a few very small changes. You never know how the incredible ripple effect of trying something different may impact your outlook and life until you give it a try.
So go ahead and give something a try! There are 70 ideas below to spark your creativity. Some are big while others are small. A few can easily be incorporated into your daily routine while others are perfect for weekends. Most can also easily be accommodated adapted for kids. There are also plenty of ideas if you’re looking for fulfilling self care practices. Check it out now!
70 Ideas to Break Out of Your Routine
- Drive to work by a different route.
- Ask a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile to meet up for coffee or dinner.
- Take an art class.
- Read a book. If you’re looking for recommendations, here is a suspenseful read from one of my favorite authors. Here’s another one which has a completely unexpected twist at the end. And if you’re looking for a series, I wholeheartedly recommend this one. I had a seriously hard time putting it down!
- Start a blog.
- Try a restaurant you’ve never tried before.
- Spend an afternoon in the park.
- Go for a run in an area of town you’ve never been before.
- Get a group of friends together and sign up to play a sport you enjoy.
- Strike up a conversation with a neighbor you haven’t met before.
- Learn to play an instrument.
- Actually get your kids together for a play date with someone you’ve always talked about doing it with.
- Get involved in a small group at your church.
- Volunteer somewhere.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Make a quilt.
- Start a scrapbook.
- Bake cookies for your neighbors.
- Cook something completely different for dinner.
- Go to a concert.
- Try out for a play.
- Involve your kids in an activity you enjoyed as a kid.
- Make a smoothie.
- Take a yoga class.
- Plant a garden.
- Take your kids to a movie.
- Take a week-long break from Facebook and connect with your friends in person instead.
- Spend a day in a city you’ve never been to before.
- Start looking into your family history.
- Take a family trip to a county fair.
- Listen to a personal development podcast.
- Go for a train ride.
- Commit to shutting off all electronics and spending quality time with your family each day.
- Start a home-based business.
- Find a coach.
- Tell your family how much you love them.
- Pay for a stranger’s coffee.
- Support a friend’s home-based business.
- Plan, shop for, and cook a dinner with your family.
- Go for a jog with a friend.
- Hire a babysitter and have a date night with your spouse.
- Plan a vacation.
- Get a massage.
- Have a family game night.
- Call a family member you haven’t talked to in awhile.
- Take your family bowling.
- Go for a trail ride.
- Re-create your favorite coffee drink or restaurant meal at home.
- Take a nap.
- Find a personal trainer.
- Visit a museum.
- Go to a play.
- Start keeping a journal.
- Start your day by listing 3 things you’re thankful for.
- See a movie in theaters.
- Take a class about a topic or hobby that interests you.
- Try meditation.
- Find a new workout routine.
- Join a club.
- Make a craft with your kids.
- Do a puzzle.
- Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
- Come up with a family (or personal) mission statement.
- Paint that room in your house which has been begging for an up-do.
- Transform your hair with a completely new cut and/or color.
- Have your make-up professionally done for date night.
- Go through your closets and donate anything you haven’t worn in the past year.
- Plan out and cook a 3-course meal for your family.
- Look for opportunities to use your talents in a meaningful way. Check out Top 3 Reasons Why You Need a Creative Side Gig.
- Sit down and color with your kids.
It’s Your Turn!
I hope this list has inspired you to try something new and break out of your routine! Even small changes can have huge impacts on your outlook! I am an introvert by nature and reaching out for new experiences has also encouraged me to open up and get to know others in ways that I have never done before. As humans, we need the support and encouragement of others but cannot just sit around and wait for this to magically happen. We need to take action toward building our own supportive tribe and growing as individuals otherwise we will forever remain where we currently are in life. Now go out there, break out of your routine, and let me know how this article has impacted your life in the comments section below!