Routine and monotony are common features of modern existence. Most urbanites with steady jobs wake up at the same time every day, drink the same coffee, socialize with the same people in the same handful of places, eat mostly the same food, sit at the same desk at work, and live in the same neighborhood for several years. Many of these people could tell me, down to the minute, at what time every day they brush their teeth or pour their morning cup of joe. Are you one of them?
I think many of us are in a rut because, consciously or unconsciously, we want to keep ourselves from experiencing disappointment, getting hurt, feeling awkward, being rejected, or wasting time and money.
We continuously seek the safe, reliable option not because we don’t like new people, new experiences, and new self-discoveries, but because the cost-benefit analysis of taking these types of risks is not straightforward: we don’t know that the new thing will be better than simply what we’ve already tried, tested, and are content with.
With New Years right around the corner, now is a great time to start thinking about how you can trade in some of your usual comforts for new challenges, small (and big) thrills, and work out more than just your abs in 2016.
Actually, every part of us is a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to keep us happy and healthy: our minds, bodies, spirits, relationships, work, money, and, the thing that ties it all together: our sense of purpose.
If you’ve made the conscious decision to break your rut and place a new emphasis on the value of small, diverse experiences that will open you up to life’s beautiful serendipity, then you’re ready to start. Here are 135 creative ways to break anyone out of any kind of rut. I recommend choosing 3 from each category to start, and reverting back to the list for new inspiration once you’ve already accomplished those. Keeping a journal to document your new experiences and the impact they have on your life is also recommended.
1. Eat lunch or dinner with one new person this week.
2. Go to a MeetUp event this month.
3. If you’re brave, go alone.
4. Create your own MeetUp group and host an event.
5. Try online dating, even if you’re happily single.
6. Send a note to 5 people you haven’t seen in the past year.
7. Randomly introduce 2 people who don’t know each other but should.
8. Try something new in bed.
9. Have a no-booze night with your friends.
10. Call someone you usually text.
11. Write a hand-written letter and mail it.
12. Give someone a (genuine) compliment.
13. Host a party and focus on being a great host.
14. Make one new friend this month.
15. For a week, don’t “like” anything on Facebook. Comment and engage instead.
16. Deactive Facebook for a week.
17. Only call (no texting) for an entire day.
18. Send a sincere thank you note to someone who has changed your life.
19. Do a random act of kindness.
20. Apologize to someone you think deserves it.
21. Treat a friend to dinner or drinks (don’t tell them beforehand, just pick up the check).
22. Bake a new goodie and give it away.
23. Ask a friend or colleague to set you up on a blind date (not facilitated by online dating in any way).
24. Hold a reunion for something.
25. Call a grandparent if you can.
26. Try playing a new sport.
27. Read a book about diet and wellness.
28. Go vegetarian for a week.
29. Start having a green smoothie every morning.
30. Give up alcohol for a month.
31. Give up coffee for a month.
32. Take a 30-minute walk day for a week.
33. Eat every meal at a table for a week. With no cell phone or computer. Focus on your food.
34. Eat every meal with company for a week. With no cell phone or computer. Focus on your company.
35. Go organic for a month and see how different you feel.
36. Give up sugar for a week.
37. Go on a bike ride.
38. If you normally go to the gym, exercise outside.
39. If you don’t go to the gym, find a free trial and try it out for a week.
40. Take a dance class
41. Join a local sports league.
Self and Purpose
42. Take a “personal health” sick day from work. Explore what you want to do with this free time.
43. Find a place to volunteer once a month.
44. Come up with five solid answers to the “What would I do if time, money, and failure were not an issue?” question.
45. And post them in the comments section below.
46. Sit in a new place at work.
47. If you work from home, try a co-working space.
48. Browse the Craigslist services section to see how freelancers make money.
49. Put your own ad up for something you could do for others for a fee.
50. Free-write every morning for 20 minutes.
51. Search your university alumni network. Find 3 people doing something that interests you and write to them asking for a 30 minute informational interview.
52. Google (your passion) + (where you live) and see what comes up.
53. Make a “100 Things About Me” list. Choose whether or not to share it.
54. Make a “Things To Do Before I Die” list and agree to cross one item off in the next 3 months.
55. Look through old pictures. Write a journal entry about what you discover.
56. Spend an afternoon taking pictures of things in your immediate surroundings.
57. Update your LinkedIn profile and browse the site for people doing things that interest you.
58. Reach out to at least 3 of these people.
59. Google “adult beginner” + (something you’ve always wanted to do) + (your city). I once did this and found an adult beginner gymnastics class in New York — so fun!
60. Take the “Barnes and Noble Test.” Wander through the store and take note of what sections draw your attention. What topics make you slump down on the floor and read half the book on the spot?
61. Interview someone you admire.
62. Cook every meal for yourself for a week.
63. Meditate. Sit quietly for a few minutes every morning with no distractions. Close your eyes and feel your breath and body.
64. Smile and make eye contact with strangers for a day.
65. Play with a child.
66. Go spend a day in nature and leave your cell phone at home.
67. Say good morning to a stranger.
68. Go sit at a local bar and have a drink by yourself – with no phone or book.
69. Make a list of 25 things you are thankful for.
70. Turn your phone off for a whole day.
71. Go get a massage.
72. Been meaning to get back to church? Go to a service this week.
73. Tap into your own meaning of spirituality.
74. Spend time with animals.
75. Write down what you dreamed about every night for 2 weeks.
76. Call the local nursing home to see when you could spend an hour with their residents.
77. Read a book or watch a documentary about a religion you’re not familiar with.
78. Read one new book every month.
79. Start a journal. Write whenever you feel like it, but at least once a week.
80. Start a blog.
81. Engage in topics you care about on social media.
82. Download new music.
83. Set a timer for 60 minutes and write a creative short story. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
84. Watch a foreign film.
85. See a live performance of some kind.
86. Start a coffee hour with friends who share your same interests.
87. Learn a new language or practice one you haven’t spoken in awhile.
88. Take a class in something that interests you. Invest in yourself.
89. Get a library card.
90. Read a new blog.
91. Buy a box of crayons and spend an hour drawing.
92. Make a vision board.
93. Read a new magazine.
94. Write a poem. It’s OK if it’s not very good.
95. Read in another language (especially if you think you can’t).
96. Teach yourself something new.
97. Ask a friend to teach you something they do well.
98. Brainstorm new business ideas and share with your friends – good, bad, or funny
99. Donate or sell old clothes and other items
100. Clean your apartment.
101. Clean out your closet.
102. Clean out your hard drive.
103. Rearrange your furniture.
104. Take off your watch for a week.
105. Paint your room a new color.
106. Go thrift shopping.
107. Experiment with how little money you can live on for a week.
108. Use only cash for a week.
109. Visit a homeless shelter.
110. Take a different route to work today.
111. Shop at a new grocery store.
112. Do Priya Parker’s backwards-elevator trick.
113. Shop in a new store and try on clothes you ordinarily would never consider wearing.
114. Move out for a month. (Just Air Bnb a new place and rent yours out)
115. Or just move. Period. New apartment, new city, new country – your choice.
116. Take a spontaneous trip.
117. Take a spontaneous trip somewhere without internet.
118. Go for a walk and get lost in a new neighborhood.
119. Try one new recipe every week this month. Cook slowly, sip a nice wine.
120. Give up TV for a month.
121. Go apartment hunting even if you’re not looking to move.
122. Do you normally shower? Take a bath instead.
123. Dye your hair a new color.
124. Wear an old article of clothing.
125. Get a new haircut.
126. Go to a new bar or club on Saturday night.
127. Go out to lunch at a new place.
128. Literally change your pace. If you normally power walk, walk slowly for a day. If you normally take it easy, kick your step up a few notches. Take note of how this makes you feel.
129. Stop in somewhere you usually walk by but have never “have time” to go in.
130. Ride the subway or hop in your car with no destination in mind.
131. Order a new drink at the bar.
132. Talk to a coworker who you don’t know very well.
133. Plan a trip overseas (and go).
134. Buy a Groupon for a restaurant you normally would never try.
135. Share this list with your friends.