While I like to think that I’ve made a lot of hard-won progress in terms of spontaneity, my heart sank in recognition when what I read in Psychology Today sounded a lot like me:
“Even small decisions are as weighty as those of the Supreme Court; everyday life is heavily routinized and breaking out in even small ways can require a lot of planning. Maybe it’s time to loosen up.”
Well, not as weighty as the Supreme Court, but still….
First, I learned that my rational, overly cautious, anxious-leaning mind was getting in my way of “loosening up.” That rang true. But hope springs eternal because it turns out that even my malleable, pliable, learning brain could improve by “shifting my source of internal info,” taking action and taking risks. My planful way of moving through my world and through my life is a source of calm – something I control and count on. But I also know that it works against me when my gut is telling me to change it up, to do something else.
Bingo. The first step in the road to enhanced spontaneity is listening to your gut, more specifically, to “the wants and not-wants, the like and not like.” When my gut asks me to pay attention to something that’s not part of the plan, I become uneasy, confused. Sticking to the auto-pilot plan is easier, safer, but listening to my gut could be the key to unlocking my spontaneity superpower. I might as well aim high, right?
The next bit of wisdom I discovered was to take it slow and make it small. I don’t need to pack a bag, book a flight and show up on my friend’s doorstep in the wild abandon of spontaneity. Instead, I could call her out of blue if connection is what my gut is telling me I want and need. The idea is to pause to consider what I’m feeling, and not push it down because it’s not in the plan or on the schedule. Instead of always tracing the same route on my morning walk, I could follow the urge to step out in the opposite direction. If this counts as spontaneity, then yes, there is hope for me. I understand it will feel weird at first, but that doing so is actually strengthening circuits in my brain. That’s cool!
It’s what the experts say will lay the foundation for making bigger moves, maybe a whole day where I follow my gut. I think the only place I have that down to an art is shopping, but that’s another story. This is about shaking up my comfort zone and getting comfortable with doing so.
Here’s a wrap on my spontaneity lessons:
- Trust my gut – pause, listen, identify the message
- Step out of my comfort zone – take the unplanned action; build from there
- Create the space for spontaneity – give myself permission to be “planless”
Sharpen the Saw, Hone the Skill
It’s like anything else: changing a habit takes commitment and practice. Here are some ways to get started:
- Eat something very different for breakfast
- Watch a program you’ve never seen before
- Drive a different route to the grocery store
- Say “yes” to an Invite you’ve declined in the past
- Go out and buy something you WANT but don’t NEED
- Sign up for a class, something different and fun
- Start a conversation with someone
- Give yourself a “Free” day where you follow wherever your gut leads you
- Try a new drink at your coffee shop (same goes for wine or a craft beer!)
- Make a small change in your appearance: a new lip color, a slightly different haircut, a bolder pair of earrings
And if you’re partnered up, ask your significant other to join you on a day of spontaneity. Instead of asking “What do I feel like doing today?” suggest: “Why don’t we try doing something different today?”
Spontaneity can feel scary for some of us, but I am not letting that stop me. How about you?