Like every other animal on the planet, humans are creatures of habit. Habit creeps into every aspect of our lives, from eating the same meals every night and going to the same bars every weekend, to jetting off on the same types of holiday every year. We sometimes think we’ve got the monopoly on what pleases us, and so replicate those experiences again, and again, and again, until they become routine. Consequently, we feel safe and comfortable, and perhaps content, but not necessarily fulfilled.
The problem with routines is that they can barricade you from experiencing new and enriching things, turning your life into an overly structured existence. Over time you can become reliant on them, to the point where venturing out of your comfort zone feels extremely intimidating. At its very worst this can result in a lifetime made up of years and years that all look exactly the same.
Breaking the Cycle
While travel broadens the mind, you don’t need to venture off on an exotic holiday to shake away your routine. Like anything in life, small incremental changes can be the most effective in the long run. Doing just one new thing per week can make your confidence in new experiences begin to snowball, giving you a more adventurous outlook on life. These things can be really simple too, for example:
- Taking the most scenic route to work, instead of the most efficient one. See how it makes you feel each morning.
- Visiting that museum or gallery a friend recommended. What better way to spend a couple of hours?
- Reading a book or watching a film that you wouldn’t usually pick. Try different authors or genres. Be open to recommendations, and let yourself be taken somewhere new.
- Going sightseeing in your own town or city. Many people have never seen their hometown’s best attractions. Act like a visitor and take an open top bus.
- Learning something new, or signing up for a course. Everyone has a skill or an interest they’ve always wanted to develop. Pursuing it can be incredibly rewarding.
- Trying something new and unusual on the menu. It could be the best meal you’ve ever had in your life. You won’t know unless you order it.
- Saying ‘Yes’ when friends or family invite you somewhere. Even if it doesn’t sound like your scene, you might be pleasantly surprised – especially if you’re in the company of people you love.
When people think of being adventurous they often envision someone doing something thrilling, like mountain climbing, trekking through a jungle, or swimming with sharks. That isn’t the benchmark of an adventurous spirit, however. At its core, being adventurous is about being free from the boundaries of your comfort zone, being willing to push yourself into unknown territory, and being open to new things. It could be as simple as saying ‘yes’ to something new.
The most fulfilled people aren’t fulfilled because everything in their life is peachy; they’re fulfilled because they’re bold enough to grab everything life has to offer, without letting the fear of failure limit them. And whether it’s at the time or in hindsight, they view the negative experiences they encounter along the way as challenges and opportunities for growth – as opposed to something that should be avoided entirely. Cocooning yourself into a safe routine only hinders you from finding true fulfilment. As the saying goes “Those who don’t make mistakes don’t make anything”.
By embracing new experiences you’ll forge a more confident, fearless, and enriched version of yourself. Make this the year you break the boundaries of your routine, and approach life like one big adventure. With spring here and renewal in the air, there’s no better time to start.