Earlier this year I posted about a trip I took driving across the U.S. from east coast to west coast (and back again). It was far from being routine and is all part of my personal continuing effort to disrupt my routine and comfort zone. I find that the older one gets the more comfort and routine become important.
Disrupting myself is something I do to stay fresh and ready to tackle whatever might come my way. It’s more than taking the long way home. But even that’s better than sleepwalking through the routine day after day. New experiences help build new neural pathways in your brain. Finding ways to have confidence that you can work your way through unfamiliar situations is actually very calming and empowering.
Not every effort to disrupt myself works for me and by that I mean I sometimes put myself into an unfamiliar situation (attending a meeting about something of interest, meeting new people) only to find out that the event was not what I thought it would be and for the most part I wasted my time.
This happened to me when I was in a large city in southern China on business some years ago. I attended a conference and was scheduled to speak but the slot was pulled at the last second (don’t ask). While I speak a little Mandarin – enough to get around alone in China, I spent two mostly miserable days inside the conference venue not meeting many people. So it was a dud. But not a total dud since I did have to manage my way around a foreign country where I have difficulty in communicating and reading signs although many of them had some English posted as well. I remember having to take a train back to Hong Kong and hoping that I was buying the right ticket for the right train. Nobody spoke English. I was bemused and even a little nervous. And I also felt incredibly alive. It ended up being much less difficult that I had imagined. This happens a lot to me when I take on something unfamiliar where the outcome is questionable. Most of the time I think ‘that was much easier than I thought’.
Here are 5 ways you can disrupt yourself:
- Attend a lecture or event in person on a subject that interests you but isn’t related to your work.
- Choose a place to visit that you’ve never been to before and travel there and back by train or bus if you don’t normally do that.
- Avoid social media entirely for a week. Discover how much time you get back.
- Set up lunch meetings with friends and colleagues. I am a big believer in going out to lunch to reset.
- Visit your clients quarterly even if you are not invited. They’ll like it more than you might think. Being there makes all the difference.
Disrupt thyself. Do the unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary. Show up even when you weren’t invited. Throw yourself off-balance and then figure out how to get back in balance. Guess what? You’re living more, learning more, and if you ask me – living better.