Some find monotony in a predictable existence

“How long?” I asked. “How many years?” I had asked a colleague how long he had lived and worked in the same town. “Nearly 30, I guess,” was the reply. “Nearly 30 years at the same job.” His house was paid for and that was a good thing. He had plenty of money invested for retirement and that gave him a sense of security — a certain peace-of-mind, no doubt.

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“People, chained by monotony, afraid to think, clinging to certainties … live like ants.”

— Bela Lugosi, actor

“How long?” I asked. “How many years?”

I had asked a colleague how long he had lived and worked in the same town.

“Nearly 30, I guess,” was the reply. “Nearly 30 years at the same job.”

His house was paid for and that was a good thing. He had plenty of money invested for retirement and that gave him a sense of security — a certain peace-of-mind, no doubt.

Part of me envied him as I was still years away from being mortgage-free and about 20 years short of saving enough to retire.

Another part of me knew that I would find monotony in such a predictable existence.

I’d never been one to stay in any place for too long. Still in all, my friend seemed quite happy (content, even) and I congratulated him on his success and fortitude.

We’re all vulnerable to the monotony of life — some more than others. I once heard someone describe monotony as a form of beige sameness. We tend to develop our own routines and for most of us, doing so helps us feel safe, keeps life predictable and lessens our stress.

Perhaps a good question to ask might be “Do you find yourself feeling happy about the routines you have developed or do you feel stuck in them?”

If we cherish security, safety and predictability above all else, then the idea of breaking free from routine can be terrifying.

I remember being surprised when another friend told me that monotony was a by-product of modern living. I pushed him a little and he eventually shared his thoughts on the topic.

Essentially, you find a good job, you buy a nice house and, if you’re lucky, have a family.

You move up in the company, set aside money for retirement and hopefully get to have a little fun before you die.

He said as time goes by you become accustomed to the monotony of your existence.

In the award-winning documentary, I’m Fine Thanks, Director Grant Peelle set out of find why people across North America seemed stuck in monotonous, predictable, unfulfilling lives.

What he discovered was a pervasive belief that agreed perfectly with my friend’s.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing the tried-and-true formula for a comfortable existence.

There is value in preparing for the future and certainly a sense of belonging that comes from putting down roots.

What I am saying is this: if you find life predictable and monotonous, then it is in your best interested to do something about it – to make a change today!

Another good question you can ask yourself is, “If I keep doing the things I’m doing today, where will I be in five, 10, 15 or even 20 years from now?” Do you like what you see? If not, then now is the time to make a change while change is still possible. And when you consider the possibility of change, ask yourself how the idea makes you feel. At the root of stagnation and monotony is a fear of risking – an unwillingness to put ourselves out there. Climbing out of the rut of monotony requires courage, determination and a confident expectation of good – components of good self-esteem and an empowered life.

Sometimes, the key to launching an adventurous life is simply to tweak your daily lifestyle. That said here are four tips that will help transform your lacklustre life for the better.

Switch up your routine. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night, we have a certain set of tasks to complete. Next time you find yourself burdened by your daily routine, do something different. Eat something different for breakfast – choose a different route to work – drive a different vehicle. In the summer I like to alternate between driving my truck and riding my motorbike to work. Better yet, lace on those walking shoes and follow a walking path to work. Spice it up. Be creative and courageous.

Flex your mental muscles. Make time to try something new. It can be anything from a new hobby like cooking, dancing or even hot yoga to reading a new genre of book. Don’t limit yourself to an activity that you deem “useful” to your career or appropriate to your gender. The most interesting hobbies are acquired when you stretch past your boundaries.

Get out and socialize. You can’t gain amazing experiences without first getting to know some new people – and I mean getting to know them face-to-face. Social media is a great way to meet people, but have the courage to move beyond texting or tweeting. As long as you are open-minded and free to new ideas, you can meet a bunch of individuals from different walks of life and in doing so, expand your perspective. Be aware, your outlook on life may change radically.

Step out of your comfort zone. I know this is easier said than done, especially when the voice of your internal critic starts yelling, “What? Are you crazy? You can’t do that!” Instead of spiraling into depression or just getting “accustomed to it” get up and take action. One year I decided to invite my children to join me on a grand adventure. I didn’t want to just step out of my comfort zone, I wanted to blow it up and I wanted my children to do it with me so they would never feel stuck as I had been. Over the course of a year we embarked on a variety of adventures including: fire-walking, skydiving and white water rafting. They loved it all and so did I.

“Monotony has nothing to do with a place,” wrote renowned English author, G.K. Chesterton. “There are no dreary sights; there are only dreary sight seers.”

You have the power to change your life. You can always retreat to your old monotonous routines if things don’t work out, but I think they just might.

“Never tell me the sky’s the limit when (I know) there are footprints on the moon.”

– Author Unknown

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.