And now for something completely different

Every so often, I strongly recommend that you do something completely different for a day, a week or a month. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it has to be new, or at least something you’ve not done for many years. It doesn’t need to be extreme unless you want it to be. It could be trying a new sport, taking a course, doing some volunteer work, climbing a mountain – as long as it’s genuinely different it doesn’t matter.

We are all creatures of habit, and over time habit takes a hold - life develops a regular patterns for all of us. We do similar things, for the most part we mix with the same people, even when we go on holiday it’s mostly a similar kind of holiday. Habitual patterns reach inside us as well. We end up thinking in regular thought patterns, feeling the same sensations and emotions, and experiencing the same stresses. This is not to say that life necessarily becomes boring, but we do become comfortable with the pattern of our lives, and we become comfortable with the “known” of ourselves and others.

You may think you know yourself, but the truth is you can only know the you that you have experienced. Put yourself in a radically different situation and you’ll wake up parts of you you didn’t know existed. You’ll find new responses in yourself, experience new thoughts, new feelings and even new stresses. It takes you back to the feelings you used to experience as a child when you were doing lots of things for the first time.

There’s a saying “Alter your stride and meet a stranger”. The stranger that you will meet is you. For the most part we simply do not know what we are capable of. Habit limits our perspective and our horizons, and to feel “alive” in work and life we need to reach beyond our habitual patterns and predictability.

I’m writing this after taking my own medicine by the way – I’ve just had a week without computers, with limited use of a mobile, sailing for a week, which I’ve not done for over 25 years.


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