The first question you might ask is why you would want to introduce any sort of randomness in your life. A lot of people I know like that there’s some sort of order and organization in the day to day. Think about a boss that randomly changes their whim every hour and how hard it would be to do work for that person.
But there’s also merit in introducing some randomness in your life. If you think about your life now (and I’ll explain this in math terms), you might be at a local optimum – a ‘hill’ if you will if you chart your life’s satisfaction, happiness, well-being, etc. on a graph. You have optimized everything and feel like you can’t improve any further. Except that the actual maximum is another hill – to get to that hill, you have to slowly knock yourself out of the local maximum, have things be chaotic or not optimal for a while and then slowly improve until you get to another maximum. Introducing randomness into your life can help you get there. It can also help you knock yourself out of a rut if you feel like you have been ‘stuck’ for a while.
So if you feel like you’ve been in a rut and want to knock yourself out of it or if you feel the need to get yourself out of a routine for the better, try these ten ways below:
When ordering at a restaurant, order whatever your friend orders
If your friend has different or even similar tastes, this can be a good way to:
- Try something that you would never have ordered by yourself
- Minimize decision making
- Experience a dish with your friend and compare and contrast your taste with theirs
The important thing here is to try something new that you may not have normally tried – yes, that also means that you may not like it but you might also happen on a dish that will be absolutely amazing.
Try a random playlist on Spotify or a random podcast
You likely listen to the same music or podcasts every day. At some point early on, you were listening to a wide variety of music or podcasts to find some of your favourite ones and now you’ve likely landed on those ones and are listening to your favourites every day. But brand new music and podcasts are being created every day. An easy way to listen to new music on Spotify is to listen to playlists that others have generated – find some of your favourite songs and see what playlists they are a part of then in the background, listen to those playlists. For podcasts, I’m, on a monthly basis, checking what’s new and what’s hot to see if I’m missing out on the next Serial.
Watch a TED talk every day
Have you tried this practice? I certainly have and if you are like me, you probably go to the TED talks that interest you. But after a while, you run out of those types of TED talk videos and so you will have to watch random ones that may barely interest you. And then after running out of those, watching TED talk videos that you know nothing about. At this point, you get to learn something new about a field that you have absolutely no interest or experience in and that helps introduce some randomness into your knowledge.
Follow a workout on Youtube
I’ve recently been getting into kettlebell workouts and not really knowing what type of workouts to do, or how long to do them, I decided that I would find videos of people doing the kettlebell workouts and just following exactly what they do – in a way, crowdsourcing my workouts as I watch the videos that have the most views.
This turns out to be a really great way for me to get in a workout. My attention is focused on following the workout and I’m not listening to any music or podcast in the background. And at the same time, I’m not being judged by a personal trainer or people at a gym as I can do these workouts privately in my home. I then also watch different workouts by the same trainer (if I like them) and try new workouts as and when I get bored with rotating between videos.
Find someone in your network you haven’t talked to in a while and have coffee with them
Look through your contacts. Look through your network. What topic is on your mind? What problems are you facing in life? Who in your network might have an answer for you? Go and have coffee with that person. OR find someone that you haven’t talked to in a while but would like to maintain a weak connection (that is, someone that you don’t see on a daily, weekly or even a monthly basis but still want to maintain a relationship with). These weak ties in your network are the ones that actually benefit you the most given that they introduce a bit of randomness into who you can know.
Every once in a while, go to a new event
I myself don’t go to a lot of new events but I remember when I was trying to build up my network early on in my career, I went to as many events as my energy and time would allow. I met maybe one or two people at those events but tried my best to develop and maintain those relationships.
Going to new events (such as Toastmasters or networking events) can help introduce you to people that you normally wouldn’t meet within your network. The trick I think here is to meet the people that are ‘super connectors’ – those people that have vast networks themselves and can connect you to the right person as long as you ask.
Browse the library bookshelves
At my local library, I like to browse the bookshelves. If you are not near a library but like to frequent bookstores, you can do the same there. I go to the sections that interest me – business, entrepreneurship, leadership, self-development, health, etc. and I take a look at what books are available, what books I have read and whether the authors I like have published anything new. I browse the books and see what catches my eye and then I’ll often pick up a copy of that book to give it a try. Many times, I’ll go back to my favourites but from time to time, a new book will catch my attention and I’ll give it a chance.
Go to a new cafe and ask the cashier for recommendations
Often times, when I go to a new restaurant or a local coffee shop I haven’t been to, I’ll ask for recommendations. I believe Tim provided some similar advice: when going to a restaurant that you want to be ‘known’ at, ask the waiter or chef to recommend the dishes that everyone orders and to recommend a dish that the chef enjoys but people rarely order. I like this advice a lot – again, it may expose you to brand new dishes that you will thoroughly enjoy but maybe it will also catch the eye of the chef there.
Pick up a magazine and browse through and try one of the suggestions
It can be any magazine and I certainly wouldn’t take whatever the magazine says as gospel but try something that the magazine suggests. Maybe it will work for you and maybe it won’t. Pick up a magazine that you have interest in – whether it’s cooking, technology, leadership or health. Trying that one new thing may open up a brand new interest for you. For example, I picked up a magazine and read about a killer recipe for roasting duck – and then for the longest time, I was really into eating duck at different restaurants. Random? Yes. But it did help expose me to a new kind of protein and some interesting cooking techniques.
Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and other hit TV shows wrote a book called The Year of Yes. In it, she talks about how she said yes to things that she normally wouldn’t have for a year. I’m not suggesting that you go out and do the same thing but maybe have a day or weekend of yes. Tell your friends or your partner that you are doing this and that you will say yes to anything and everything that they suggest as long as it’s not dangerous, against your values and other criteria that you have pre-determined. Then, go and do everything that your friends say.
Do you feel like you are in a rut? What do you do to try to get some randomness into your life? Let me know in the comments! Ultimately, it’s about expanding your comfort zone and your life, when stretched to new areas of comfort, will never be the same again.