Much of adult life can feel the same, day after day. We have our routines, which can be wise. Smart routines make good choices automatic. But some routines can become ruts. Time slips, unnoticed, into the past.
Memories tend to form when we experience novelty or intensity. That’s why I suggest planning little adventures into life. What makes this day — or at least this week — stand out from any other time?
In the Tranquility by Tuesday project (the basis for my next book, out in 2022!) I shared the time management rule to plan “One big adventure, one little adventure” into each week. A few folks struggled to come up, immediately, with doable adventures. Blame lockdowns, small kids — there are plenty of reasons. But as people reflected on this, a number came to this conclusion: there are benefits to recasting something you are already doing as an adventure.
For instance, let’s say you order dinner in on Wednesdays. Or you meet a friend for a walk every Friday morning. You tend to take the kids to a playground on Saturday mornings while your partner sleeps in and gets some me time (and she/he reciprocates on Sundays).
With a little thought, any of these routines can turn into little adventures. Maybe some Wednesdays you try a new cuisine — or at least order something extra and special from your favorite places (have you ever tried one of those less-commonly ordered rolls down on the bottom of the sushi place menu?). Go on a quest to find the best take-out lasagna in your city — ordered from a different Italian restaurant each Wednesday. Or try eating off the “good china,” or on a picnic blanket in a new corner of the backyard.
That walk with the friend on Friday morning is always a little different since you’ll talk about different things. With the right mindset — maybe even intentionally brainstorming some conversation topics beforehand — this could be an adventure right there (vulnerability is memorable!) But you could also come up with a list of different neighborhoods where you’d like to walk for your standard 45 minutes, or different trails nearby you could try. You might decide to stretch it to an hour and tag on a stop at a new coffee shop afterwards.
The Saturday morning playground trip can likewise be recast as an adventure. Work your way through a list of local parks and playgrounds. Invite a new family to join you. Try something different (parking a few blocks away and scootering there?) Tack on a stop somewhere interesting once your usual playground time is done (aquarium store, seeing a construction site with lots of big equipment…).
The point is to make something you’re already doing slightly more memorable, or to see how it might already be memorable as you think about it intentionally. When we decide that something is an official “little adventure” we treat it more seriously. We put a little more thought into it, and as we think of it as an adventure, we notice more.
That’s how today has yielded a “little adventure” for my daughter. She likes to familiarize herself with the upcoming days’ lunch menus at school. She knew today would feature French toast sticks. Then we realized that since Wednesday is also our breakfast-for-dinner day, she would be eating three breakfasts (including the normal morning time one). This realization was pretty exciting, and so now she is noting each meal, and paying attention to the different manifestations of breakfast food. This is nothing different from what was already happening, but deciding it is an adventure can make a day stand out. This is the Wednesday with three breakfasts. That’s how it’s different from other days.
What could you recast as a little adventure?
In other news: Lots of great books launched this week for people to check out!
My friend Camille Pagán has a new novel out called Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around. It’s a sequel to her previous book Life and Other Near Death Adventures, and just as fun a read.
Erica Dhawan (author of Get Big Things Done) just launched a book called Digital Body Language, which is about how to build trust and connection with people even if you are working in very different places. So timely as many teams are figuring out how to work long term in a location-flexible culture.
Scott Miller, whose tips I’ve featured on the Before Breakfast podcast, has a new book out called Marketing Mess to Brand Success, which has 30 challenges that can help business leaders think through creating a compelling story for the right people.
One from last week that I’m reading and enjoying now — We Should All Be Millionaires, by Rachel Rodgers. More on this to come in future weeks!
Photo: Lots of breakfasts…
9 thoughts on “Recast it as an adventure”
Love this idea of reframing. A friend and I have been taking our kids to parks Saturday mornings and bringing donuts and mimosas to make it a bit more fun and festive. I would love to see a list of ideas from people – sometimes that is the hardest part, thinking of the things that would be fun but not too much effort.
The donuts and mimosa combo sounds fun!
One way to have little adventures is by proxy — I am a fan of professional tennis, and each week my favorite players travel from city to city all over the world to play tournaments (they’re in Rome right now). It’s fun to see on my TV/DVR who is having a good week and who is not, and even what the covid restrictions are like in different countries. Plus, the more you learn about a sport, the more you want to know! It engages the mind in a different way.
The Big Adventure/ Little Adventure idea might have been my favorite from the series. Yesterday we finally went down to Galveston after a year of people telling us it was nowhere as nice as a California beach. With plentiful parking and an uncrowned view of the waves, it was nearly nicer. A lovely adventure that I’ve put off. We have a huge long summer looming ahead of us thanks to a university calendar at our kids school so I’m looking forward to parking in the adventures, big and small.
Love this concept! I’ve spent the pandemic looking after my mom while she recuperates from hip replacement surgery, a crucial part of which is daily walks. The pace and distance she can manage doesn’t amount to much exercise for me, or allow for much variation in route, but we’ve found variety and interest in observing the gradual progression of spring in all the plants we pass daily along more or less the same route.
I have a toddler who does well with outdoor picnics, but when it was too cold this winter we spread a blanket out in the basement one Friday night and had a picnic down there. She also loves the basement so thought it was a great idea. My husband and I had wine/beer and it made a boring cold weather/pandemic Friday much more fun!
Our family has been super bored lately during the pandemic- the things I have enjoyed most recently were going to a new donut shop in a neighborhood I had never visited (novelty factor even though the donuts were actually not very good) and starting to play with my rec soccer team again (activity feels novel after almost a year with nothing).
This was definitely the most impactful TBT activity for me, I’ve really stuck with it, trying to identify adventures big and small. When I do my weekly planning, I’ve been trying to block out a bit of time for a nice lunch or a little exploration. I randomly picked up a den kit in the mysterious middle aisle of our local grocery store and tucked it away for my son’s summer birthday (4). My husband was working all weekend and we were bored, so I got it out, we cycled to the river, found a nice spot in the woods and set up camp for the afternoon. We ate snacks, and went on expeditions. When it rained, we crawled in the tent and read books. It was such a break from our normal routine and we both really enjoyed it.
I love the idea of mini-adventures or re-framing things we already do as adventures. It truly does make life more fun and the days more memorable. I’m also a huge fan of your practice of seasonal fun lists. Making the list in and of itself is fun and having the list means we actually make more bigger adventures happen. It really is the little things like this that make a life full and happy 🙂