Harvey woke at 7:30 am, his usual time. He headed straight to the restroom for a shower, just as he had done for the last 47 years. After his shower, he dressed himself. He’d worn this shirt before, maybe 100 times. He had owned it for 9 years now. The slacks were a little newer, they were only 5 years old.
Harvey headed down the stairs to his coffee maker he had filled the night before, just as he had done for the last 47 years, and pressed the “brew” button. He ate the same Raisin Bran, he poured his coffee into the same mug, and left the house at the same time he had for the last 47 years.
When Harvey arrived at the office, he parked in the same spot, walked in the same door, headed to the same office. He’d occupied this office now for 15 years, ever since he won Dale Murphy’s old position after Dale left the company to go out on his own. But today things seemed a little off in his quaint little mid-hall office.
Barry, a Senior Executive, stopped by Harvey’s office and asked him to join Barry and Murphy, the CEO, in Murphy’s office. They were letting Harvey go. His numbers were stagnant they said, he had always been a good employee but never great. Management was making room for some up and coming youngsters in the company who’s numbers were steadily growing. It turns out Daltyne would rather employ people with lower numbers, but showed a pattern of growth, than an old Clydesdale who showed no signs of improvement. Even if, in the near term, the company’s numbers would be down, in a few years they’d be higher than they’d ever been. Harvey was out. His same old same old had killed him.
You don’t sound like Harvey do you? Many of us probably do, and in many aspects of our lives I’m sure we could find patterns of behavior similar to Harvey’s. The problem with routines is that they get stagnant. Think of a pond. You may never want it to always be smooth and pristine, that way you can take your sailboat out on it whenever you want, but if the water doesn’t get tossed around by the wind every once in a while, it will grow stagnant. Have you ever seen a stagnant pond? They’re covered with green moss, mosquitos, and stench. What was once a beautiful paradise will become a stinky wasteland of poison. The same is true about us. We must change, we must grow, we must improve, or we’ll become a poison to society, worthless to others, and enter a dull existence. Here are my five steps for breaking your routine and discovering new growth:
- Insanity – I know you’ve heard this but the definition of insanity is … “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re not 100% happy with your output as is, you’ve got to change. There is no other way.
- Resolve – Have the resolve to make yourself uncomfortable. We tend to slide into routines because humans desire order, it makes us feel good. Have the resolve to break free of this and create waves in the pond of your soul.
- 21 Days – research has shown that, on average, it takes 21 days for an individual to create a habit. The same is true for breaking one. Clear your calendar and start marking off the days. Give yourself 21 days with no routine. If you eat the same cereal like Harvey, buy something different. Take a different route to work. Buy some new clothes. For 21 days, do things differently.
- Training Day – your mind works like a muscle. It is a muscle. You have to challenge it. Once you stop exercising your brain, your body starts destroying the portions you don’t need. Your body is efficient and knows to get rid of anything it’s not using. On the flip side, it knows to build more to take care of the new work load. To break the mold and really experience growth and success you’ll have to challenge yourself every day. Push the limits, wear yourself out trying to get away from the confines of your routine.
- Create a New Routine– Routines aren’t always bad. Create a new routine of mixing it up. You’ll find comfort after a while in this new style. Once you’ve locked it in and made the routine-less your routine, change and growth can happen inside you organically.