Damned by Days of Usualness

Posted on September 27, 2022

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re in a rut?

It happens to the best of us.

One day you look around and realize that routine has largely taken charge of your life. Your waking hours are a slog of sameness. You’re mostly on automatic pilot, stuck in a daily/weekly grind of habitual behaviors, a prisoner of your ingrained practices.

This isn’t good. Because monotony is a harsh jailer.

Here’s what happens when you become too settled in your ways:

  • You dull your senses. This dampens attention to your surroundings and the wealth of possibilities before you.
  • Creativity withers and turns brown around the edges, leaving you with a poverty of inspiration.
  • Life becomes so repetitive—so static and sterile and tedious—that the fire inside starts flickering.

It’s easy for too much equilibrium to sneak into your day-to-day living. Dr. Wendy Wood, a research psychologist at the University of Southern California, found that approximately 43% of a person’s daily behaviors are performed out of habit. Does that surprise you? We spend almost half of our day doing things without really thinking about them!

Some of this, of course, is good. Let’s say, for example, that as part of your morning routine you make up the bed, brush your teeth, shower, do 50 pushups and situps, then meditate for half an hour, all before going about your day’s business. Such habits should serve you well.

But too much predictability and sameness in your everyday existence will punish your spirit. It also can stifle your becoming more fully born as a person.

Bob Dylan sang, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” The fact is, you need change. You need different. You need uncertainty and newness in your life. Having to deal with an ongoing flow of these challenges will exercise your very being and give birth to richer tomorrows. Frankly, you should appreciate these disturbances of your status quo.

Life needs friction! You benefit when the unexpected intrudes on your established routines. It shakes up your fixed ways of thinking and feeling and doing things. It makes you stretch. It muscles up your awareness and adaptability.

The renown artist Georgia O’Keefe wrote of how it feels when one sinks into a period of excessive usualness: “I never felt such a vacancy in my life—Everything is so mediocre—I don’t dislike it—I don’t like it—It is existing—not living—and absolutely—I just wish someone would take hold of me and shake me out of my wits.”

That’s what I’m trying to do here. I want to rattle your cage. So let me ask you two questions:

  • How long has it been since you did something for the first time?
  • What will you do, today, to escape the ordinariness you’re accustomed to?

You have the potential to become “you squared.” But to make that quantum leap, you cannot live your days by rote. You must allow a fair amount of unusualness into your life. No, actually you need to invite it into your world…embrace it…give it a chance to invigorate you.

That, my friend, would be a worthy habit.

Rage on!


Price Pritchett is one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance. His firm—PRITCHETT, LP—is recognized worldwide for its thought leadership on mergers, corporate culture, change management, and accelerated achievement. These writings define the behaviors and individual mindset underlying fast growth and innovation.


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