It happened to me — I became a creature of habit. Everything I did was ruled by routine: I was frequenting the same lunch spots over and over again, bingeing the same TV show (even though I'd seen it multiple times) and had become notorious for fleeing social situations the minute they exceeded the time amount I’d allotted for them. Religiously following a pattern made me feel in control of my busy life. Plus, it worked for me — that is, until it didn’t.
About six months ago, I decided to take the plunge and move across the country to go back to school. Once I was settled in a new state, with a new time zone, a new address, and a completely new life, the routine that had become so deeply ingrained in my life just didn’t make sense anymore.
With a jam-packed schedule, it would have been easy to start a new series of habits that would soon become my tried-and-true regime. Instead, inspired by my new surroundings (and, OK, definitely motivated by my desire to make new friends!), I vowed to become more spontaneous for a full month to see what was possible for my new life.
Here’s what happened.
1. I Scored An Amazing Living Situation
A few weeks before moving, I was in a bind when it came to where I would live. I hadn’t been able to find any long-term housing options that were in my budget, and my classes were set to start, like, soon. Although I was looking for a year-long lease with people I knew, I stumbled upon a three-month sublet not far from campus. After talking to the woman I would be leasing the room from, I was skeptical: Was it worth it to move all of my things into a house full of strangers, only to move out again in such a short period of time?
As it got down to the wire, I decided — in the name of spontaneity — to just go with it, despite my misgivings. The verdict? I’m so glad I did. I got along so well with my new roommates that when the time came for my contract to end, they graciously offered me the chance to extend my stay.
2. I Met New Friends
Being active is such a big part of my life, so when I heard about a running group that met in my new community, I decided to give it a shot. Even though the group wasn’t meeting during my preferred early morning hours, I knew that if I waited until the next week, I might chicken out. Despite being a natural introvert, I embraced my new philosophy and started up as many conversations as I could. While it was incredibly intimidating to walk into into a group full of people who already knew each other, I left with several new potential running buddies — some of whom would later become good friends.
3. I Discovered On-The-Go Solutions
My old routine had me relying on coffee to make it through the day due to my early morning alarm. But once I wasn’t living and breathing by my old schedule, I realized this was a chance to try new things — and get out of the time-consuming trap of visiting a coffee shop every day. I discovered 5-hour™ TEA shots, sugar-free energy boosts containing caffeine from green tea. Stocking my bag with a 5-hour™ TEA shot saves me from having to plan my day around coffee breaks and unexpected bouts of tiredness. Win-win!
4. I Embraced My New Community
With a set routine, it's easy to frequent the the same shops, restaurants, and gyms over and over again. But my new mantra forced me to try a variety of new places in my town rather than just sticking with ones that were 'good enough,' which in turn, helped me find the best deals in town every day of the week!
I found a great restaurant with $1 tacos on Tuesdays (a true steal!) and several lunch spots with weekday afternoon lunch specials. Checking out a new indoor cycling studio on a whim prompted the manager to offer me a free first ride. And after noticing the town library, I realized I could find quiet places to study beyond cute (but crowded) cafes.
5. I Realized A Routine Doesn’t Leave Much Room For Growth
My month of spontaneity helped me realize that there’s so much more room for good things to happen when you have an open mind. While a regimented study schedule keeps me on track with my school work, I know now that deviating from a schedule — even if it’s something small, like talking to a stranger, or taking a different route to class — can be incredibly rewarding.
You don’t have to move across the country to embrace an 'anything goes' attitude. All you need is an open mind — and maybe a 5-hour™ TEA shot for the road!
This post is sponsored by the makers of 5-hour™ TEA.