You can break up your routine without breaking up the good habits you’ve built.
Work, eat, workout, eat, work, eat, work, sleep. Rinse and repeat.
The cycle of my life is not so different from the lifestyle that every other person typically goes through in their working life.
And it is annoying.
Of course, this is something that you have to accept when you’re focused on a specific goal. The purpose of achieving a goal is to develop a set of habits and perform them on repeat for the rest of your life. At least until you hit that milestone or the goal itself.
But there are all kinds of roadblocks that you run into between you and those milestones and goals.
One such roadblock is the fact you’re in a routine. A routine that can slowly become boring, uninteresting, and something you’ll abandon for something that’ll give you way more dopamine.
And finding some alternative isn’t so difficult in a world where everything is stimulating to some degree.
It’s easy to get into that cycle, however there are several ways that you can avoid this. It’s as simple as breaking up that routine and adding just enough variance to it to make it thrilling once more.
1. Try New Approaches
I’ve been working out for about a year at this point and unlike my previous attempts, I’ve found a strategy that works for me.
While there is a laundry list of reasons for me to go to the gym and workout, what’s keeping my attention to do these workouts is this strategy: new approaches.
Working out goes beyond working yourself until you’re dying inside and find some reason to push forward. That’s not going to help you develop a love for working out and a willingness to adopt it to your lifestyle.
Instead, you’ll want to change your mindset around the whole concept and be open to new approaches.
Things like working out initially to build up the muscles to do the exercise properly.
Next, take on the approach of working out to get your brain to use the right muscles when performing a specific exercise.
Another is setting your personal best and building yourself up to surpass it.
Aside from mixing up your exercise routine so you’re not doing the same thing every day, these new approaches make exercising more interesting since each approach demands you pay attention to more than the activity.
You want to make sure you’re bracing properly and that you’re working the proper muscles.
This approach can be used in every habit that you build so that it can add variance to it.
2. Noticing. Creating. Discovering
While we like to think of scheduling our overall life gives us order and balance, there is an argument to be made against having set schedules or set activities we do every day.
Frank Barrett argues this idea in his book Say Yes to The Mess where those set of skills were crucial in him making jazz music.
As a creative, if we’re living relatively the same life over and over again, it can be difficult for us to come up with more content. We can find ourselves in a creative rut where we can’t think of topics.
Even when there are topics all around us that we could pull from.
By practicing this cycle — even if you’re not a creative — you too could break out of any cycle and see new possibilities.
3. Give Up Control
Routines demand that we have some level of control — control during and around that routine. Self-discipline is a cornerstone to any habit and routine. And while it’s an important aspect, there comes a time where you’ll want to forgo all of that.
And that’s a good thing.
Giving up control in your routine is a smart thing so long as you’re not abusing it and are humble about it. For example, despite knowing having sandwiches isn’t going to help me achieve my health goals, I still get one every Friday. It’s a nice way to finish off the weekday of workouts.
To compromise, it’s at least from a health place and I fill it with a bunch of protein as well.
Another angle to be looking at giving up control is that you find new and creative ways to enhance your habit as well. As soon as you tell yourself “things don’t always have to be this way” you can broaden your view and look for new approaches.
4. Make Mistakes
“If you’re not making a mistake, it’s a mistake.” — Miles Davis
Embracing failure is part of the course when building a habit or sticking to a routine. But at some point we believe that deviating from that path can spell doom for us.
When you are performing a specific habit, things have to be done in such a way or you consider it wrong — even if the method is more effective than your own.
The idea is to be trying new things and to see where it takes you.
Transformation in your life doesn’t always stem from the vast amounts of success that you experience. Sometimes it comes from the mistakes that you’ve made.
5. Perform Fresh Starts
According to Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, putting yourself into a “Fresh Start” can lead to shifting your routine and reinforce pre-existing actions.
Also called the “fresh start effect”, the idea is getting into the headspace of a starting something new at a certain point in your life. For example, new years resolutions leverage this with the whole idea of “new year, new me.”
You’ll need more than this to change habits, but using this method when you notice things are slipping can be a significant tool in freshening up your routine.
6. Focus On The Bad Habits That Stem From Routines
Bad habits are everywhere and spring up time and time again in our activities. But we don’t always notice those things or even consider them as good habits.
Habits aren’t just one specific activity but rather a set of activities that we perform. Think about your morning routine you go through. Chances are likely you do several things to freshen yourself up to tackle the new day: brush your teeth, take a shower, comb your hair, groom yourself, etc.
Those are good habits of course, but we have many other routines that go beyond that. And some of those things can impede our growth.
For example, even though I have plenty of energy after working out, I often spend the rest of my morning and a bit of my afternoon absorbed in Youtube videos.
It’s a bad habit that stems from the fact I just worked out and don’t really feel like working. It’s one bad habit mixed in with various good ones.
That’s an excuse when I could be working on the list of things that I’ve got. And by working around it to break that bad habit, I can break up my routine.
7. Put Yourself In “Sink Or Swim” Situations
The last way to break up your routine is to look out for the unfamiliar. I call them sink or swim situations as you’ll either thrive in the new environment or it’ll end up being a big mistake.
Research shows that by putting ourselves in these unfamiliar situations and to be looking for them, these bring out further creativity in ourselves. When we stop relying so much on our existing laurels, we expand our mind to find new possibilities.
Break Your Routines
While there is some level of need for routines, it’s important to keep in mind that there are better ways to get things done at every turn. You don’t need to be doing this constantly, but using this when things are starting to get dull or that your growth has plateaued, these strategies can help you break out of it.