When was the last time you did something completely out of the blue? As in, really unexpected? We’re not talking a cheeky extra shot in your morning coffee, or wearing a ‘fun’ shirt to an important meeting. When was the last time you went somewhere new for dinner, just because? Or ignored your GPS and ended up exploring somewhere off the beaten track?
There’s a reason that main characters in novels and films always choose the path less travelled at the last minute. It’s not just exciting, it’s the only way to break the patterns (read: monotony) of daily life.
Of course, some would say there’s a fine line between ‘spontaneous’ and ‘mad’. It goes without saying that financial and major life decisions need careful consideration. But even with the smaller decisions, doing something on a whim at best could get you labelled irresponsible, and at worst could get you arrested. So how do you know which invitation, opportunity or passing chance to take up? There’s an art to spontaneity.
The benefits of being bold
Being spontaneous has a number of benefits for your wellbeing. First, while getting in to a routine can be comforting at first, our minds are always looking for new stimuli. Breaking out of your established pattern can really scratch that itch.
Then there’s the Zen factor. Have you ever been told that you have trouble keeping your cool when things aren’t running to plan? Going with the flow – at least in small, ‘safe’ doses could help train that feeling out of you.
As a further benefit, learning to let go can improve your creativity. It’s a matter of being open to more ideas and trusting your intuition. Who knows – that next great novel (or business idea, or invention) could be in your head already, just waiting to be unlocked by a change in your thinking habits.
Planning for unplanned adventures
So how do you start being spontaneous after a lifetime of learning to colour within the lines? Remember, you don’t have to make a massive change to see some benefits. By consciously trying to be open to new experiences and listening to that little inner voice that prompts you to follow your heart, you are unleashing your spontaneity.
Try starting with something small and manageable; a kind of controlled spontaneity, if you will. Try a recipe from a cuisine you’ve never cooked before or just head outside with a rug to enjoy a picnic dinner as the sun goes down instead of dining at the table. If you enjoy being able to work remotely, try working from a new coffee shop or restaurant that’s not on your usual list of favourites. On the drive or commute home from work try going a different way or taking a detour into a neighbourhood you don’t usually frequent.
Need a bit more of a push?
Take some inspiration from people who’ve taken a leap of faith already. Head down to your local book store or library (or flick through your TV streaming platform of choice) and look for a biography recommendation. Looking for a starting point? Try a doco or drama based on a real life adventure, like Wild (2014).
Finally, if you’re having trouble being spontaneous while also keeping up with responsibilities (such as actually going to work), set aside some time to do something different and look out for opportunities to shake things up a little.
Jump to it!