“Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before.”
~ Alexander Graham Bell
Habit and routine play a positive role in life, to be sure. They help us move forward without wasting energy on mundane recurring choices. But too often they take on a life of their own.
When habit and routine define your path rather than enhance it, it’s easy to get bogged down in a rigid, limiting rut that ultimately narrows down your possibilities. Every day becomes a carbon copy of the day before. With no new inputs, the potential for new outcomes dwindles and life decays into a stultifying, endlessly repeating loop.
Yikes! But what is the solution? Sure, it would be nice if you could just take the plunge and break free of your daily routine, never to be shackled again, but that’s not always possible. What then?
Try making a habit of taking day trips off the beaten path. Find ways to add new inputs into your system on a daily basis. Make a list of ways you can shake things up, learn something new, stimulate a different way of thinking, or approach things in a different way.
Try this: Brainstorm ways you can take day trips off the beaten path. Trade tips with friends and colleagues. Create a list (and keep adding to it over time) and commit to doing one thing from the list each day.
Here are some ideas to get you started (there are a bazillion more than this, so don’t stop here)…
- Talk to people who have taken a drastically different path than you. Make it your mission to learn one thing new from each of them.
- Talk to someone who has recently made a huge change in their life. What have they learned? What helped them succeed?
- Buy a magazine focused on a topic you know nothing about. Buy a different one each week and learn at least one new thing from it.
- Approach a problem using an approach that isn’t familiar to you. If you are typically analytical, take a creative approach. Ask people whose standard mode is the creative approach for help. If you are typically creative and intuitive, spend some time tapping into the analytical side.
- Get out of your comfort zone. The first thing here might be to explore what your comfort zone is (through journaling, for example), then brainstorm ways to step outside it.
- Change your surroundings. It always amazes me how much a simple change of scenery – even one as simple as a trip to a coffee shop to work – can stimulate my brain.
- Look at the world from different perspectives. Take an opinion you don’t agree with (for example, a political opinion), and try to understand where people who hold that opinion are coming from. You don’t have to agree with them, just try to create a deeper understanding of why they think the way they do.
- Take a class that is complementary to your path. Make a list of skills are knowledge you would like to gain that is outside the immediate scope of your current focus, but relevant. Pick one you find especially interesting and take a class to learn more.
- Take a class on something that has absolutely nothing to do with anything you currently focus on.
- Read. Read. Read. (Did I mention, read?) This is one of the easiest ways to, as the quote above says, “dive into the woods.”
This is just an off-the-top-of-my-head list of ideas for how you might take day trips off the beaten track. I would love to hear more ideas. What ideas do you have?
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After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.