Friday, September 16, 2011


I was having coffee with a friend today, and we were talking about how easy it is to be trapped into a routine. Sometimes we crave more adventure, but the ultimate experience evades our grasp.

I was sharing a theory I have, which runs like this. We are divided into two people. One of these people is idealistic, and comes up with ideas for new things to do. The other one is realistic, and has a natural inertia which makes sure we don't depart too far from our routine (which, after all, helps us survive). The problem is, the realistic one almost always wins. This is because it is supported by the force of habit, and the fact that our whole environment is built around our usual routine.

So, in order to create adventure, it is not enough to come up with an initial new idea. If we stop there, then Mr Realistic will take over straight away, and before we know it, we will be back into our old routine, and disappointed with ourselves for not escaping. We need to start breaking existing habits, and creating new ones. Only when we successfully break up our existing routines, can we make room for adventure.

Here are five tactics which encourage the break-up of Mr Realistic, and make room for adventure:

1. Get out of the house. Your house is full of things which remind you of your usual life. Being outside and away will stimulate your brain to accept a flow of new things.
2. Get into the company of different people. The interaction will challenge your old habits and ways, and stimulate you into taking up other behaviours.
3. Move your furniture! One person I know is often in the habit of doing this, as it provokes her into tidying up loose ends, and seeing the world in a different way!
4. Throw things out! Accumulation of sterile things, which never move, persuades you to sit with the same thoughts day on day.
5. Burn your bridges. If your habits have something to go back to, they will.

One word of warning: be balanced about this. A logical consequence of following all five tactics at once is to become a tramp wandering the streets with no possessions. Probably plenty of adventure… but no home! A way of preventing this, and staying within healthy norms, is to make social commitments in a new direction - examples include booking onto a course or activity in advance, or getting a friend to partner up with you.

The best influences in changing yourself are often friends - my coffee friend and I can encourage one another into new adventures, and then meet up and share the tales. All part of creating your own story and identity!