Blog & Insight

Do something different every day

The quickest means I know of unlocking the blocks to progress is to try doing something different every day.

It's as if each day you're expanding your comfort zone a little more.

It's certainly a great challenge do undertake as a team.

Here's a post from the archives about what I did differently every day for a month in 2016.

Day 1: held my toothbrush in my left not right hand - interestingly, by bringing tooth-brushing into my conscious awareness I brushed my teeth and gums more thoroughly and for longer! 

Day 2: I bought a male health magazine rather than a female one - obviously, the focus of articles and adverts are different to those I normally see - a ripped torso anyone? A great reminder that it's often marketing and sales that determines what I see ie my media experiences may not be a full representation of the real world! I also found another idea to add to my 'try something new every day' list too - 'beet kvass' it's a fermented food good for improving the gut biome apparently. Because of its lack of familiarity I also read the magazine cover to cover which is something I haven't done for a while with my more regular magazine purchases. 

  • Day 3: I made turmeric and pepper tea. I'm not one to enjoy, nor try, new 'spicy' taste experiences, therefore I realise they should also make it onto this list over the next 28 days. This tea was suggested as an aid for my knees, which obviously provided the added motivation to make it, and then of course try it! The jury is still out but I will try it again this week as it wasn't as spicy as I thought.
  • Day 4: I've just started day 4 and made a decision to have a shower and not a bath, despite having the time. Whilst feeling weird, it did allow time for my early morning hip mobilisation which is a better time to do them! 
  • Day 5a: I didn't hoover the carpets when I wanted to, and as it didn't feel too uncomfortable to leave it just one day I have decided I won't hoover until the weekend ie day 9 (ouch). Although as soon as I could on the Saturday you could find me hoovering 🙂
  • Day 5b: I'm getting on a roll - I didn't watch TV in the evening at all, and also went into another room to watch videos associated with some studying I'm doing. Certainly less distractions, and more focus on the task in hand.
  • Day 6: I bought a dragon fruit - see Saturday's blog (day 8) for more on insight from doing that.
  • Day 7: I watched TV from a different sofa! 
  • Day 8: I watched ITV news at 10 and not BBC - not a biggie, but I'm working on the assumption that any shift out of a normal routine is flexing the 'doing something different' muscle. It certainly felt wrong! I also ate the dragon fruit with kidlets from next door :-). 
  • Day 9: I seem to be getting in the swing and did a lot today e.g: 
  • Day 9a: Different boxing exercises which definitely brought the boxing into conscious awareness and slowed me down!
  • Day 9b: I handed over responsibility for the colour of my nails to my manicurist - which felt very strange. A great reminder that releasing control should perhaps feature more on this list for me!
  • Day 9c: Whilst waiting for my opticians appointment I went into a different cafe for lunch - which meant I found where I can top up my eco washing liquid near home. A revelation indeed.
  • Day 9d: I've always said I don't like Scottish oatcakes but as it was the one nightshade and gluten free option in the cafe I went with it. With cream cheese and smoked salmon I have to say they were very nice. How long till I'm happy eating cheese on them like I do crackers I'm not sure! (2021 postscript - I now enjoy Scottish oatcakes, having said no to them for over 10 years!)
  • Day 10: We walked to a different cafe in the opposite direction to the one we normally take, and walked back a different route to the one we'd taken to get there. With pain in the knees over the summer scuppering such walking, another difference would be that I walked there rather than drove!
  • Day 11: I'm driving to Manchester via the A1 and not M74/M6 allowing me to visit Bamburgh beach, and friends in Bradford en route. Something I've been doing more of since returning from my comfort zone busting trip to Shanghai - ie trying to see friends / places of interest whilst out and about. I also drank coffee after my meal - I can't remember the last time I drank coffee!
  • Day 12: When we had a comfort break during their coaching session, and because I have always said I'll stick with water and let them go off to the kitchen, my coachee said "come on and do something different and have a tea with me". So I did.
  • Day 13: As I was in Manchester, and only 60 mins away from my mother, we arranged to meet half way for a meal. It's not something I've tried to fit into a working week before, previously I've either popped in at the start or the end of my travels. 
  • Day 14: I had a busy day working and 5 hour drive home and didn't consciously do anything different, and don't remember doing anything different either.
  • Day 15: I uploaded my receipts and started my monthly invoice for one client rather than waiting till the end of the month!! That feels so much less stressful.
  • Day 16: I tried iced latte today! Not something I'd rush to do again - especially as I don't like coffee despite Day 11's successful drinking of some. I also bought a papaya - although it's currently ripening with the banana's.
  • Day 17: I made tiger nut milk - I have yet to taste it. I also replicated Day 5's not turning the TV on which, whilst no longer doing something totally different and new, is still demonstrating the shift in a habit as a result of this challenge. 
  • Day 18: Today I'm walking the talk and turning off my phone and email whilst I concentrate on a task I want to finish today. In recent coaching sessions time management has cropped up frequently. Solely focusing on the task in hand has been one the biggest changes in behaviour I've suggested. I've just not been great at following my own advice. No TV again today.
  • Day 19: In a very non sheldonesque sort of way (From The big Bang Theory ) I offered 'my' sofa for my friend to sit on. I think she was more on edge than I was in the end!! That said, it says something about my 'habits' when a number of friends expected me to have problems with doing it! I also had my 3rd night in a row with no TV! I really am loving this idea to do something different every day. It's uncovering all sorts of unconscious habits, and opening up new opportunities and ways of thinking as a result. Woop to that.
  • Day 20: I'm taking the TV watching to a different level tonight - my aim is to just watch the great British bake off, and one masterchef Australia episode and then turn off the TV! No more hopping about or just binge watching the last week#s Masterchef because I can. I ate my first papaya too - it was quite tasty and not at all Mango like as I expected.
  • Day 21: I ate mealworm flapjacks when attending Louise Gray's talk about 'the ethical carnivore' at Toppings book shop in St Andrews. Which included going out on a school night and getting back late! The showers in the morning continued instead of a bath, and I booked another late school night activity next week when I'm in Derby with a colleague.
  • Day 22: I can't remember doing anything different today. Perhaps I did and it just wasn't big enough anymore for me to remember!
  • Day 23: I bought dangly earrings instead of studs after catching myself saying "I don't do dangly earrings" (2021 postscript - I now only wear dangly earrings so perhaps time to switch it about again). I also had a cafe latte with a little sugar and found a drink I quite enjoy (which is a development from day 11 & 16)!! After day 9b's exploration of letting someone else determine my nail colour I was a little more adventurous with 4 different designs per hand instead of the 'normal' 2! 
  • Day 24: I had an interesting conversation with a friend about saying "yes" more and not "no" - but nothing to add to my list today.
  • Day 25: I sat on yet another different sofa when a friend visited.
  • Day 26: I stopped before the motorway and afterwards rather than try to eat on the services as I would do normally. A great reminder to look for stop off points along the way off the motorway.
  • Day 27: I said yes to attending a professional speakers meeting on an evening when I was training during the day ie I didn't go back to the hotel and eat dinner there!!
  • Day 28: I went to the cinema in the week!! 

Here's what I discovered:

  • You can't truly understand the impact of a new behaviour until you've done it for 28 days. Much of this insight only came after persisting with the habit - ie once the easier responses had been left behind.
  • It's easy for a behaviour to become a habit or a way of responding to the world without thinking. This in turn reduces choice we have about actions we take. For example I love having a bath in the morning and don't really like showers. Having a bath however had become the default setting. Imagine my surprise when I brought the decision into conscious awareness, and realised on days when I'm busy a shower could give me another hour in my day!  Ditto the habit to turn on the TV to eat my tea, and then find the evening has disappeared - sometimes with mindless channel hopping. 
  • I had no idea how often I said "No", or "I don't like", or "I don't ..."! Atleast scanning for something different to do meant I questioned my "No"s, and in a lot of instances changed them to "Yes", and for more than the 28 days too e.g. coffee drinking, tea drinking, trying new foods, and so on.  
  • The automatic response based on previous experience isn't always correct. In the past I've been very tired at the end of training sessions, and often retreated to the hotel room and more mindless TV or a long bath. During the challenge I said "yes" on a number of occasions to going out, and found that going out doesn't further deplete my energy but energises me. So much better for seeing family, friends and more widely when I'm out and about around the UK and further afield when training.
  • Handing over control to others can be fun - I let someone else choose my nail varnish colours. Yes I know it's not a biggie - but letting control in my life is big for me. As Karen found out as she herself found it difficult to take the control fearing she was doing it wrong at every stroke of the brush. An interesting observation too about the impact on others of my need for control - I'll need to consider that some more.
  • Annoying outcomes can be changed to make them less painful! e.g just because I've always done my invoices at the end of every month doesn't mean I have to continue to do so. Doing them as I go along has certainly taken the pain out of doing them.

In conclusion, doing something different every day enabled me to face some habits that were long over due an upgrade.

What will you do differently today?

Do get in touch if you'd like to run a do something different every day challenge for your team.


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© Alison Smith
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