Be More Spontaneous

Some structure in your life can be comforting, but when the barista starts making your drink before you order it, maybe it's time to shake things up a bit. Get out of your comfort zone and injecting some spontaneity into your routine can keep things unpredictable and fun.


Learning Your Routines

  1. Make a list of your routines. Before you start to change, pinpoint the areas of your life that are somewhat rigid and could use some loosening up. What patterns do you repeat?
    • Start when you get up in the morning. What's the first thing you want to do in the morning? When does your routine start?
    • Keep a notebook with you on a normal day and make a note of every time you do something that feels routine. If you walk to work, do you walk the same way every day? Do you sit in the same desk during classes? Bring the same kind of things for lunch? Always order the same meal at a restaurant? Always ride the same bus? What about your clothes?
  2. Identify your anxieties. Often, repetitive behaviors are the result of deeply ingrained anxieties and limiting beliefs that show up in unexpected ways. As you begin to note the content of your routine in a given day, consider the possibility of changing each item. Does it make you nervous to consider NOT ordering that drink at Starbucks? Or taking the bus instead of walking? What's scary about the idea?
    • Write these down next to the steps in your routine. Try to be as specific as possible. What's scary about sitting next to a stranger and being drawn into conversation? What keeps you from visiting that new restaurant?
    • Ask your friends and family for help. Often, your friends will know you better than you know yourself. Ask simply, "Am I predictable?" If you suspect you are, they'll probably have particular patterns identified that you may not even be aware of.
  3. Make note of downtime. Part of spontaneity is being active. During the day, make note of the times that you're sitting around the house with nothing in particular to do, or times that you're bored. What do you choose to do with that time?
    • When you list these, also make note of "dream days." If you were doing anything with that time, given unlimited resources and opportunities, what would you do? What would make for the perfect evening after work or school?
  4. Select changeable behaviors. Look back over your list and decide what you'd like to change. Some routine is good--having habits can keep us productive and comfortable. But some routine is the result of our limiting beliefs and anxieties keeping us lazy and unwilling to stretch out and experience new things.
    • In particular, note things on your list that you're embarrassed about. If your perfect evening would consist of going dancing but you typically spend it playing video games you feel guilty for playing, that's a sign of a changeable routine. If you always order the Americano because you love espresso and because it's the cheapest thing on the menu, why change?

Breaking Your Routines

  1. Start slow. Mix your patterns up just a little bit, based on your list of changeable routines. Take a different route to work. Bring your lunch instead of visiting the cafeteria. Call a friend and meet for drinks downtown instead of going straight home after work. Study in the library instead of at a coffee shop. Does it make you feel any better? More anxious?
  2. Reconnect with people. Often a lack of spontaneity leads to feelings of loneliness. We think everyone else is out having fun and you're stuck at home. Yet, when you're thinking of making plans, you go solo.
    • Invite people along for simple things. If a few beers on the porch is an average night for you, it can suddenly be a significant event if it includes an old friend from high school. Catch up, make plans to do more.
  3. Embrace mystery. Spontaneity involves "keeping people guessing" as much as it does keeping yourself entertained. Next time someone asks about your weekend, try saying something like, "It was thoroughly exhausting. And yours?" Cryptic responses to questions will make people curious about you and how you spend your time, drawing them in and giving you more options for spontaneous adventures.
  4. Follow your cravings.[1] If you develop a craving to eat pizza late at night or to become a vegetarian over the weekend, what's stopping you? It's easy to come up with reasons not to do things. Instead of worrying about whether your whim will eventually fail or whether you'll regret eating after 10pm, just do it.
    • If you find yourself regretting not acting on these whims, especially, learn to recognize them and act upon them.
  5. Make immediate plans. When talking with friends, it can be easy to make vague plans for the future: "We should go camping sometime" or "Let's meet for lunch soon." Instead of doing this, decide on a date and an activity and set it. Turn "I hope we do something for spring break" into "Let's book a flight right now."
    • Alternatively, if you are a habitual and intricate planner, decide to actively NOT plan. Maybe say you'll meet up with someone later, but don't think of anything to do together. Meet in an unfamiliar part of town and explore it together.
  6. Travel. Sometimes it's easy to get locked in a routine when you're in the same place all the time. Particularly if you live a medium-small town, you can exhaust the possibilities for activities relatively quickly.
    • Spend time planning a trip but also leave blank days to allow for new plans and possibilities. If the worst case scenario is that you walk around a new place aimlessly for a day, you're in pretty good shape.
    • It doesn't have to be expensive. Even hanging out in the adjacent town's cheap coffee shop open-mic can be a new thrill compared to a usual Friday night in your own town.

Saying Yes

  1. Whenever someone asks something of you, say yes. Saying no creates a cycle of things you do every day. Do you get offered karate classes but turn them down because you're not into it? Does a friend ask you to go to a new place, but you say no because you're skeptical? Taking "no" out of your vocabulary opens up a world of possibilities.
    • Saying yes can take you on a journey. Just think, do you know exactly what you're going to do tomorrow? If you're open to opportunity, anything could happen.
  2. Say yes to your own thoughts. All of us have different voices we listen to. We have the one voice that's full of crazy, creative, spur-of-the-moment thoughts and ideas. The one that sees that new Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant and says, "Go in!" The one that sees the online coupon for a pottery class and thinks, "I could like that." Don't ignore that voice! Say yes to yourself, too.
    • And then there's the voice that's much more practical and logical. The one that likes routine and simplicity. Don't let that voice take center stage. If you find yourself using it, ask yourself why this voice should win out. Odds are it shouldn't!
  3. Always remember to be sensible. Let's be clear, here: if a friend of yours tells you to jump off a cliff, don't say yes. If you have the opportunity to get so drunk you'll black out, don't say yes. If your neighbor asks you for a million dollars, don't say yes. Think of it this way: there are few situations where "yes" just isn't an option. If yes is an option, than you should probably go for it. It's important to know the difference!
    • Always act in your best interest. If you have no desire to go to that glow-in-the-dark bubble rave, don't go. You'll just have a miserable time. Saying yes isn't about forcing yourself to do things -- it's about forcing yourself to do things you might like and never get around to.
  4. Evaluate your "yes" skills from time to time. This whole open-to-everything life philosophy is going to lead to some great opportunities. However, it's also going to lead to a few duds. After you've been at it for a while, take a look at what works and what doesn't. Maybe you should only say yes to one thing a day. Maybe you should only say yes to things you know you won't regret. How can you make the "yes" system work for you?
    • Be sure to look for what seems to be the most effective for you. If you're finding new restaurants, cafes, and places to hit up in town, great! Concentrate on that. If you're hanging out with people you'd rather not be hanging out with, you may want to start declining invitations on that front. Use your spontaneity to make life more enjoyable -- not more hectic or challenging.


  • You don't have to overdo things or become excessive to be spontaneous.You can be spontaneous without eating out every night or spending too much on a new wardrobe. It's a state of mind. "Being spontaneous" can become a routine, too.
  • learn to believe in yourself

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