If you’re like me, routine can be a blessing and a curse. Routine provides a sense of stability, security, order, and even a sense of simplicity in a complex and often chaotic world. Having a good routine around getting a good night sleep, for example, is a positive routine. At times, however, a very positive routine that has served us well can start to feel like boredom, homeostasis, and every cliché about the daily grind, hanging in there, just getting by, on cruise control/autopilot, etc. What can we do to feel re-inspired and creative again when routine starts to feel like being stuck? Three things come to mind.

First, the obvious one – change our daily routines. It is so obvious that it is easy to overlook how readily we can make slight changes in daily life that bring new energy. It could be as simple as taking a different route on a work commute to enjoy a different visual landscape and sites. It could be listening to a different kind of music, seeking out musicians you haven’t heard before. It could be learning to a cook a different kind of cuisine than you usually prepare. It could be turning off technology and spending more time unplugged, like reading an old fashioned book instead of from an electronic device.

Second – seek out new experiences in our own backyards. When I think of all the things to experience right in my own locale, I realize that I have engaged in only a fraction of them. Or in some cases, it may have been years since I went to a wonderful place like the local art museum. If we rouse our energy, we can find many local experiences to give us new inputs and fresh perspectives. From museums to restaurants to parks and nature trails, we have opportunities to break with routine around every corner.

Third – remember goals and gratitude. Most of us who feel the daily grind type of experience at times are working hard towards short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. When short-term matters like keeping a roof over the head and food on the table dominate our perspective the routine can quickly feel like that daily grind until we ask ourselves, “what’s it all about?” This is a good time to remember gratitude, for the routine is providing a stability that we need as humans, meeting our basic needs. It is also a great time to remember the mid-term goals. Are we saving for a vacation next year? And the long-term. How is today’s routine laying the foundation for our vision of the future? It’s good for us to keep an eye on the prize, remembering that sacrifices we make today are usually linked to a greater good beyond the daily grind.

If you are feeling stuck in routine, join me in making slight changes to daily patterns, seeking out new, local experiences, and remembering goals and gratitude.