“Hey, hi! I like your haircut! I bet you want the Bun Chai with fried tofu and extra noodles, right? And hold the bean sprouts and basil, hmm? I’ll set aside a takeaway box for you right now because I know how you are, girl!”
This is the exchange that happens every time I go to Trieu Chau (which is, um, probably more than is healthy.) For as much traveling and new-stuff-trying as I do, I am deeply, dorkily a creature of habit.
I literally buy these in bulk.
I’ve been running (re:trudging at a slightly-faster-than-average-pace) the same set of stairs for aaaages.
And even though I’ve worked really hard to create this no-boss, work-from-anywhere life, I find myself wearing a rut into my days, doing the same (perfectly nice) things over and over and over.
So lately, I’ve been making a really conscious effort to change things up. Many of the changes I’ve been making are laughably small. Ordering something different at Trieu Chau. Working from a different public library. VENTURING INTO AN EXCITING NEW WORLD OF MEAT ALTERNATIVES.
These changes are hardly earth shattering but they’re slowly adding up to a daily life that I’m more excited about and engaged in than ever.
17 tiny changes that make life more interesting
1. Order a new hot beverage
Let’s talk tea. Or cider. Or an Americano. I’ve been surprising my barista every time I order something other than ‘a large cup of light roast for here.’
2. Buy a Groupon for a new restaurant in your neighborhood and order something you’ve never had
I frequent the same three restaurants in my neighborhood week after week. Why not pop over to Groupon, type in that zip code and buy the cheapest option you can find. You’ll keep money in your neighborhood, support a small business, and maybe find your new favorite hang out. (Earn good karma points by writing a positive review if you loved it!)
3. Construct an outfit around one of your closet orphans
You know what I’m talking about. Those cute pieces you never wear, gathering wrinkles at the back of your closet. Move them to the front and create an outfit around ‘em. And if you still don’t like them? Set aside a few hours for a closet purge.
4. House swap with friends for the weekend
I house swapped with a friend in L.A. a few years ago and it was woooonderful! But you can swap with a friend somewhere a lot closer to home. It’s fun spend the weekend anywhere new – even if it’s just an hour and a half away! See if any of your Facebook friends are keen to switch homes for a long weekend and then get to know a new city.
5. Take a different route (or type of transportation) to work
What if you took side streets instead of the highway? What if you took the train or the bus? Or your bike? You’ll meet new people and see new parts of your city from the back of a bike or a train.
6. Try out a new hairstyle
I’ve pretty much go two hairstyles – Kardashian-y and straight. But when I wear it twisted up and around? Or with a scarf? Or a hat? I feel like a totally different person.
7. Ask your boss if you can come in/leave early or vice versa
If you’re accustomed to a 5:50 am alarm or finishing work at 7 pm, life feels totally different when your workday leans to the left by a few hours. See if your boss is willing to switch your hours around for a week and then enjoy the luxury of sleeping in or finishing work by 3:30.
8. Take a new class at your gym
Of course (of course!) I’m all about Zumba and Hip Hop classes. But I’m working up the nerve to try a spin class (terrifying!) or something involving kettlebells. Join me?
9. Read a magazine about a topic you know nothing about
Reading an entire book on a topic you know nothing about is a bit of an undertaking, but a magazine? You can do that. Knitting! Cats! Woodworking!
10. Go to open mic night
They’re free, fascinating, and a great way to support independent coffee shops/bars/cafes and artists. Most cities have multiple open mics every night – in Minneapolis, the Acme Comedy open mic night is awesome/hilarious/horrible/scary.
11. Listen to a new radio station
Guys, I have recently become The Sort Of Person WHO LISTENS TO JAZZ. What?! 99% of the time I toggle between this hipster station and Top 40 foolishness but after hearing the same 10 songs on both stations I happened upon 88.5.
Just this one little change has made my drives calmer and exponentially more mellow. What would happen if you changed the media you consumed? What if you navigated away from drive time djs who make sexist comments and use sound effects?
12. Switch your part
Allofasudden my hair is full of body and my scalp is all “What are you even doing?!”
13. Swap out your bedding for something totally different
My BFF introduced me to The Wonder That Is Patterned Sheets. And then if you use different, but coordinating patterns? It’s like you’re tucking yourself into a design book. Of course, sheets can be expensive so I’m a big fan of thrifting them.
(Yes, I know some people find that vaguely disgusting but have you ever stayed in a hotel? Then you’ve slept on sheets that other people have slept on.)
14. Go to an international grocery store and buy a bunch of things you’ve never tried
One of my go-to brunch tricks is to bring ‘adventure fruit salad.’ I head to Sun Foods, buy all the fruit I can’t identify (and a few things I know everyone loves) cut it all up and toss it in a bowl. If you live in the Twin Cities, check out Cosetta’s Italian Market, Sun Foods, Awash Market, or Ikea’s market for Scandinavian treats.
15. Wear a new shade of nail polish, a new color of eyeliner, a new shade of lipstick
Did you know that purple eyeliner looks really lovely with brown eyes? Or that black nail polish can look professional? And I’m pretty sure that this lipstick will help me accomplish that coveted Who Me I’m Not Wearing Lipstick I’m Just Naturally Beautiful look.
16. Sit with someone you don’t know at lunch
Does every lunch break involve your work BFF and the same table by the window? What if you sat with Megan from accounting? Or Brandon from marketing? You might make a new buddy or get to sample those cupcakes Brandon’s always mowing.
17. Rent a car that’s totally unlike yours for the weekend
Slightly extravagant? Yes. Totally fun? Also yes. If you’re a minivan driver, experience the wonder of a zippy little Mini for the weekend. Rent a convertible for a weekend of leaf-ogling. Rent something with four-wheel drive and explore dirt roads. (Hotwire and AAA are great for car rental discounts!)
How do you get out of a rut? What little changes would you add to this list?
P.S. Want customized, 1-on-1 support creating a more interesting life? I do that!