Why You Need a Break From Routine

We do our thing. Day in day out. Sometimes its routine, sometimes its variable. But the reality is our days don’t vary all that much. We don’t deviate from what we know, from what we are comfortable with. And what we desperately need is a break from reality as we know it. Im not talking about a mental breakdown, Im talking about a re-imagining of the possibilities in our lives. I can vividly remember times in my life when I had a tiny hope for something different in my life— and the pivotal moment I committed to it.

The first that comes to mind is when I had recently started back at university full time for my undergrad. It was 2010, I was 36, working 20 hours a week, a mother of three and recently separated from my husband. I was agonizing about the need to take summer courses in order to fast-track my degree, but the course selection was practically nonexistent. I was sitting in class and staring at a poster about a study abroad program in Greece for the summer semester. Part of me felt a longing to do such a a trip, another part of me lamented at my inability to do so. But right in that moment I questioned myself. “Wait a second”, I said to myself, “why can't I??” I realized this is likely the only way that I could get three courses in my summer semester and something have always wanted to do. And it didn't take me long to decide that I was going to break out of my routine, I was get a bust out of what is normal for a mother and I was going to go for it. And go I did.

I had another such moment during a leadership training I was taking. I had recently arrived home from a trip visiting my parents in Boulder Colorado. I had several impactful experiences during that trip that made me dread going back home to my regular, somewhat mundane routine. I call it ‘small town blues’, when you feel the limitation of your experiences from staying in a small town. And during this leadership training we were asked to envision how far we can go, what the next step looks like, and where would it take us. Because I am a person who pushes myself, who bores easily, and is always looking for the challenge, I decided I was going to make the decision pursue my masters degree in Colorado. But as a trial run I wanted to spend several months there, to make sure that it would be a good fit for me and my son. And again I found myself asking, “why can't I do this?”. And I realized that the only thing that was stopping me were the limitations that I placed on myself. When I wrote down the particular obstacles, I realized that I can find a solution for each one of them. I couldn't let them hold me back. I wanted forward movement and I had a deep-seated desire for change.

Although I ultimately did not pursue my Masters degree in Colorado, the experiences that I had in my three months there shifted so many things within myself, that another better path unveiled itself.

I feel like we need to open ourselves to the possibilities. Sometimes our daily life and routines keep us very sheltered, and limited. We can’t even get inspired about possibilities, because we cant even imagine them. One of the reasons I crave travel is to see how other people live. Some cultures have things so “right”. Just the act of seeing new things, experiencing new sights and sounds— and all manner of stimuli— that jolt us out of living our life on autopilot. Unless you are living a life that makes you feel alive and inspired, you need something to bust you out of your routine. You don’t need to wait for a wake up call, you just need to be open to receiving some inspiration and the next step might surprise you.

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