How to Be Spontaneous – From Someone Who Isn’t
Okay this is a topic I’m really not qualified to write about. Typically I like to schedule my spontaneity. I’m not ridiculous about, I don’t need months, but a few weeks advance notice is good. And like most of you, I have responsibilities. But recently I’ve had a change of heart and discovered what a lift in the human spirit being spontaneous can be.
So I’m starting to like last minute plans. What has brought on this change? For me it’s being an empty nester. When I don’t have to line up a baby sitter or have a calendar full of school programs or sporting events to attend, it makes life a whole lot simpler. And I’m really starting to like this new status, although at first I resisted it.
Last Friday was gorgeous here in Texas and the entire weekend was going to be a perfect 85 degrees and sunny. Fall hasn’t shown up just yet, but the extreme heat of summer has faded, so why not go to the river? And we did. We stayed in the most beautiful, quaint cottages on the Comal. It was like being in a Thomas Kinkaid painting. It was romantic. It was fun. And friends were able to join us at the last minute. Everything worked out perfectly, which is a word I don’t use that often.
Then it clicked for me, this is why I need to be more spontaneous and open to last minute adventures, to allow the potential for unexpected perfection to enter my life. So how can you do this if planning things to death is more your thing or you have young children that require your undivided attention? Here are a few ideas that might help, but this is really a practiced science.
- Start small – Keep in mind that humans are creatures of habit, but when you break from this you can discover something new. For example, if you typically go to the same restaurant every Friday night, try a new one. Or if you need even smaller baby steps, try ordering something new off the same old menu. The worst that can happen is you don’t like it as much. But you could also like something more.
- Try saying “Yes” instead of coming from a place of “No” – Of course, if you are that person who says yes to everything and volunteers whenever asked, putting themselves last, try saying no from time to time. Basically, you want to break up routine and allow for new experiences.
- Do something that pushes your comfort zone – This is difficult for me, but it doesn’t mean go rock climbing or motorcycle racing, it just means don’t let barriers stop you. Say there’s a movie you want to see, but your friends are too busy, go alone. You will survive, I promise.
- Embrace mystery – Do you like a good suspense? When we frame the narrative of something new as an “adventure” or the outcome of an event as a “mystery” it takes some of the pressure off and lowers our expectations. Say you go to a museum and don’t “get” the artist or the art. In the end you’ll still feel good for setting and accomplishing a goal.
- Expect the best – In other words, assume everything will work out and give yourself permission not to worry.
For me, being spontaneous will always be a work in process, but it’s something that’s more fun than exercising or eating vegetables, so that’s one way to look at it. Good luck!