I’m a creature of habit. In fact, we all are. That’s part of human nature; we find what we like, or are comfortable with, or are good at- and we stick to it (The older we get, the more extreme it gets. Don’t believe me? Try to convince your 80 year old grandmother to try something new).

Normally that sounds like a good thing, right? Who doesn’t enjoy comfort and “security” in what they know? What ends up happening is that our daily lives become boring and predictable.

We start to lose that edge and spontaneity that keeps life fresh. There are no new surprises. Life loses its mystery and the tedium of daily-living sets in.

Over the years within my coaching practice, I’ve developed 4 simple ways to help my clients (and myself) move from auto-pilot living, to continuous growth and inspiring living.

#1: Take a Different Route to (or from) Work

It doesn’t matter if you drive, walk, or take a subway. If you can make it home without even thinking about it, you’re on auto-pilot.

When I used to work on East 17th street (in NYC, back in the day), I would walk from 6th Avenue down 14th Street and turn left on Irving Place till I got to 17th street.

I did this for 2 years straight -If you’re from New York, I don’t have to tell you how ugly that walk down 14th Street is-. One day something came over me and I decided to walk down 15th Street instead. I found new shops and boutiques; great new bars and restaurants; and… it was PRETTY!

I never realized by altering my daily commute by one block, I would enjoy it so much and find new places to go.

If you drive, get off at another exit. If you take the subway, try a new line.  If you take the PATH from New Jersey, try the ferry. Switch it up!

#2: Eat at New Places and Try New Foods

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the worst at this and have to force myself to try new places and order new foods.  Whenever I would order Chinese food, I didn’t even need to see the menu: I already knew I was ordering General Tso’s Chicken. One day, I was somewhere in rural Massachusetts visiting family and they took me out to a Chinese restaurant. When I looked at the menu I realized (Gasp!) THERE WAS NO GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN! I had to order something else.

The experience made me realize I was limiting myself on what else was available. How could I give myself a chance to like another dish if I never tried anything else? -By the way, not everything you try will be good- but at least you gave it a chance and will be willing to try something else.

When I’m driving and see an interesting looking restaurant, I like to just stop in and try it -even if I know nothing about it-. As a result, my family and I have tried all sorts of amazing foods from different cultures. It keeps our dining experiences more interesting and I look forward to going out to eat with my family.

#3: Listen to New Music

My buddy Angus is one of the most rock ‘n’ roll guys I know. He’s in the music industry and is the business manager of a band called KISS (ever hear of them?). Anyway, he happens to love punk rock and knows everything about it. He can tell you who played with who, what year the album came out, and who’s alive and dead now. About a year ago, I asked him if he wanted to grab a drink at the local bar and he told me he was going to the opera with his wife.

You should’ve seen my jaw hit the ground. “THE OPERA?!!!” I replied, as he tilted his head down, looking semi embarrassed. Fast forward a year and Angus is still going to the opera…EVERY MONTH! He loves it! And guess what? He’s still Mr. Punk Rock. He told me that even he is in shock that he likes the opera. See what happens when you try new music?

#4: Go to New Vacation Spots   

I know you probably take your kids to Disney World every year, or to the Jersey Shore, or -if you‘ve got the money- the Hamptons, but there are other places.

Go somewhere completely different! You need new experiences; the world is a very big place. Allow yourself to see and experience new environments. Take a camping trip; go white water rafting; visit Europe instead of the Bahamas.

Instead of going to Disney World in Florida, check out Disney Land in California (Yeah, yeah, I know. Disney World is better…but you get my point). If you have kids, they will appreciate it when they get older. I always try to take my family somewhere new when we go away. In fact, right now we’re planning a trip to Berlin, Germany. My last name may be Kaufmann, but I don’t speak one word of German! There is a certain amount of discomfort not knowing what to expect, especially when you don’t speak the language, but that’s how you grow and expand out of your comfort zone.

An exciting life is a continuous path of growth, discovery, and a willingness to seek out new experiences. Try implementing one or all of these ideas and you’ll never have to worry about living on auto-pilot ever again.

~“Pistol” Pete Kaufmann

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