I had to go to a meeting at work the other day. My job doesn’t usually involve attending meetings very often. But this particular one is held three times a year and I go along to take the minutes.
The subject matter is very technical and complicated and although I feel as if I’m following the discussion at the time, when I come to write up the minutes later, it becomes blatantly clear to me that I don’t even have a basic understanding of the subject. It’s not my normal, everyday line of work. It’s a job that I inherited from one of my previous bosses. I’m not even sure now quite how or why she got involved in it but when she left, the job fell to me and I’ve been doing it ever since.
As I was getting ready for the day, I found myself thinking that I’d make a bit more effort than usual. I don’t know why really – it’s not as if I needed to impress anyone or as if it would make even the slightest difference to my ability to understand the subject! I think it was more about preparing mentally and psychologically for the day ahead. So I took a little more time chosing what I’d wear and how to accessorize – picking a ring and necklace in the same colour and took a little more time with my makeup. And it felt good. I’m sure I left the house standing a little taller and straighter and ready to face the day. And it made me realise that the effect of making even a small effort can go a long way.
I read somewhere years ago that Susannah Constantine (of Trinny and Susannah) said that it’s all the more important to make an effort on the days when you don’t feel so great about facing the day ahead. And I’d definitely agree based on the way I felt on the morning of the meeting.
It’s very easy to slip into routines and find ourselves doing things the same way all the time. I’m sure the vast majority of us fall into these habitual routines – with the clothes and accessories we wear, the food we buy and meals we prepare, the way we carry out certain tasks – whether that’s at work or at home, and even down to the effort we put into communicating with other people. I don’t believe it’s necessarily a case of being lazy. Sometimes it’s easier to do things the way we’re used to doing them because it requires less thought and is easier to fit into our busy life. And really if you know that doing something a certain way works – then why not carry on doing it?
But I think there’s also an element of keeping within our personal comfort zones at play here. People usually associate the concept of stepping out of their comfort zone with taking big, scary steps. But this doesn’t need to be the case. Even doing small things in a different way gives you a different perspective and can give you a boost of vitality – even confidence. Something as simple as wearing a piece of jewellery to work that you normally only wear at weekends or when you go out, can make you feel different. It can feel almost the same as the boost you get from wearing or using something new that you’ve just bought or been given.
Routine and habits are not necessarily bad things – in fact, in many ways they can provide structure to our lives. But equally I think it’s good to mix things up a little from time to time and to be wary of allowing too many areas of our lives to get stuck in a rut. Little changes – or little efforts – can go a long way to keeping things interesting.