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Doing before thinking turns life into an adventure, but before you abandon your regular routine, it might be worth doing a bit of planning.
We were all once spontaneous, impulsive little people. It’s natural to become more cautious and less impulsive with age. Yet beware of letting go of your spontaneous streak altogether.
Establishing a routine doesn’t mean that you need to rigidly stick to it forever, and playing it safe within the parameters of your comfort zone can get in the way of you doing more of what you really want.
Delaying your dreams because of dull routines, or turning down one-off opportunities because you’re worried what others will think, won’t serve you well in the long run.
In Bronnie Ware’s book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the number one regret was: “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Facing the fact of your own mortality can be a useful tool to fuel more joy-filled living, and that includes saying yes to the unknown every now and then. Life is too short and precious to spend it pleasing everyone else. Seize this day as if it were your last, because one day, it will be.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
How to find balance
If you prefer scheduled activities to unplanned situations, fear not – it is possible to strike a healthy balance between the familiar and the exotic. Sir Richard Branson, renowned for his ultra- spontaneous behaviour, also swears by having a routine.
Over time, he has found a place for planning and relies on routines to put certain parts of his life on autopilot. This leaves spare brainpower, time and energy available to experience, and enjoy, the surprise of the unknown.
You can create a strategy that will keep you to task but also allows room for you to venture into new terrain. It can be scary to let go of plans and perfection, yet this fear holds you back from limitless possibilities. There’s always a degree of uncertainty that things won’t work out, but focus instead on what you could achieve.
Why spontaneous people are so happy
While mapping out the way forward can have its benefits, there are also certain advantages to throwing caution to the wind. In reality, plans regularly swap, change and fall apart, and this can set you up to either fail or flourish.
Spontaneous people experience a greater sense of joy and freedom as they are more flexible, adaptable, creative and open to whatever comes their way. This quality of openness can lead to opportunities and experiences you couldn’t possibly have planned for, and a new-found resilience that helps you to navigate when challenges arise or things go awry.
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How to become more spontaneous
Seize, not scroll
It’s easy for us to spend time in our comfort zone, living life through our social media feeds. One day a week, replace the minutes (or hours) spent scrolling with saying yes to something new in real life that you’ve always wanted to try.
Mind over mood
Create a powerful mantra to remind yourself to go for it, like ‘the time is now’ or ‘seize the day’. You could even write it on a post-it note or make a pretty print to carry with you and remind yourself of it throughout the day.
Let fate decide
If you're struggling with a decision, put the universe in charge – flip a coin and see where it takes you. It'll save you time and worry, and could lead to an unexpected, positive result.
Plan to not plan
Schedule your spontaneity for when it suits you. While this might sound counter-intuitive, it can work wonders to set aside the time to be more spontaneous – you can focus on letting go and hold yourself accountable.
While some decisions warrant time spent considering them carefully, others can be made much more quickly. Acting fast will override the analysis, paralysis and fear that can prevent us from being spontaneous in our choices.
It’s a cliché, we know, but find your inner child
As children, we find it easier to be spontaneous as we don’t have the fears and predictions that come from bad experiences. Try something completely new without any preconceptions – explore it with a sense of curiosity, awe and wonder. It might not be for you, but you gave it a go without worrying about the outcome.