Daily Stretch #23: Disrupt your routine to change your perspective
My wife and I do not celebrate anniversaries.
We don’t have our own side of the bed for the same reason.
We purposefully switch bed sides as a way to avoid a “mine” or your” side territorial approach. But, most importantly, as a small act to remind us we don’t want to live a life of repetition.
Disrupting our routines helps us see things differently. Thus making us more creative.
This sounds trivial, but it’s not.
Small changes can have a powerful impact on our behavior. Let me show you how.
Your routine can drag you down
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
Our routine is a series of habits that we follow without thinking.
The brain is the most effective organ. It takes the shortest route, with the least effort, possible. That’s why our brain loves routines.
Sleeping on the same side of the bed or sitting exactly in the same place at the table are perfect examples of habits we do without thinking.
Routines are meant to drive efficiency and comfort. They provide familiarity at a low-effort. But it’s precisely its non-challenging mode what drags you down.
Paraphrasing Einstein, following the same routine over and over, won’t help you generate better ideas.
Your brain is lazy. Like your muscles, it defaults to not being challenged. But growth and learning only happen when you stretch beyond your comfort zone as I explain in my book.
Routines are repetitions. Your brain needs stimulation to develop new thoughts and ideas. If you want to be creative, you must disrupt your behaviors.
Daily Stretch: Disrupt your routine to change your perspective
“Even good, healthy routines can drag us down if we don’t break them and re-form them from time to time.” — Meg Selig
Routines can help focus your time and energy. But they can make you live on autopilot.
My wife and I, purposefully, don’t have our own side of the bed. And we normally don’t celebrate “formal” anniversaries either. We prefer to honor our love spontaneously.
I give her flowers to surprise her, not because I have to. An unexpected act creates a more profound impact.
Creativity is also a by-product of unexpected connections.
By changing your perspective or doing things differently, your brain will stretch. And boost your creativity.
Disrupt your routine by practicing these six exercises.
1. Take the long way home:
Following the same familiar route not only feels repetitive but minimizes surprises. Try altering your way back home. You’ll discover things that were unnoticed.
Look through a ‘tourist’s eyes.’ When we travel abroad, we discover things that locals normally miss. They got bored of taking the same route and stopped observing.
Wandering around or getting lost on purpose is a critical part of my creative process. Going for a walk is perfect for finding a solution to a problem you haven’t been able to crack yet.
Creativity is discovering things that are present, but no one else is paying attention to.
2. Avoid having ‘your’ side:
Having your side of the bed or always sitting at the same place at your dining table is not just repetitive. It creates a sense of possession.
A place becomes your place. That senses of familiarity can easily become too comfortable. Not only it creates a boundary with others but also limits your experiences.
The more comfortable you feel within your routine, the more afraid you’ll be to try something new.
By having “your way” of doing things, you become blind to other possibilities. And leaves no room for creativity.
3. See things from different angles:
Things are not what they are, but what we observe.
“When you change the way you look at things; the things you look at, change.” — Wayne Dyer
Walking in someone else’s shoes helps challenge your bias. The same as asking questions. When we assume the obvious, we stop being creative.
Once I visited my sister abroad, as I wrote here, I asked her over and over how she liked her coffee. And not because I had a bad memory.
Every time I asked, I was giving her a chance to experience coffee in a new way.
Familiarity can get you stuck. If you anticipate other people’s choices, you are limiting their ability to break their routines too.
4. Add a physical limitation:
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal.” — Paulo Coelho
Force yourself to use your non-dominant hand to write or brush your teeth. Watch a movie without audio. Communicate with other folks without speaking.
The brain compensates for lost senses in just minutes, as research shows. It does so by moving that energy into other parts of your body.
When every sense works perfectly, we get comfortable.
By introducing physical limitations, you can train areas of your brain that are underutilized. It also improves your flexibility and patience.
5. Change your pace:
Going faster or slower than usual is an effective way to disrupt your perspective.
Letting someone else dictate your pace is a nice way of letting go. But, most importantly, to change your focus as I wrote on this post.
When we slow down, we focus on the details and appreciate the small things. When we speed up our pace, we can focus on the big picture.
Changing your focus, changes how you see things. And sparks curiosity.
6. Do the same things differently:
Do you have a specific morning routine? Change its order. If you take a shower first and then have breakfast, next time do it the other way around.
Do you have a favorite recipe? Try replacing some ingredients with others. Do you have a set time for waking up or dining? Change it.
“The less routine, the more life.” — Amos Bronson Alcott
Switching order, replacing elements or changing your schedule will help you become more mindful of regular activities. When you increase your focus and connection with what you do, appreciation increases.
The same happens with embracing doing chores as a meditation. A more appreciative mind is more generous and fertile. Both traits boost creativity.
Experience things for the first time. Again.
Routines are good for productivity. I’m not against structuring your days. But, repeating your behaviors every day, narrows your perspective.
Practice disrupting your routine. Don’t be afraid to abandon your comfort zone. Overcome feeling stuck by experimenting with new behaviors. See how small changes to your habits can unleash your creative juices.
Challenging our routines is not easy though. Becoming more conscious of our daily habits and fighting inertia is demanding.
But it’s a great reminder to avoid a life of repetition.
Before You Go
Change happens one stretch at a time. Like challenging your routines to be more creative.
Disrupting routines if also very effective to unblock teams. That’s one of the challenges we’ll address at our workshop. Check it out: “Reboot your Team: How to Overcome Being Stuck.”
Other resources to improve your change-fitness: