Is it burnout or is it a deep need for freshness? If you’re tired, you may think your options are to push through or to rest, but the missing piece is likely variety.
The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.Daniel Gilbert, Author of Stumbling on Happiness
To be Human Is to Crave Variety
When we experience a change in landscapes/seasons, meal choices, wardrobe components, the media we consume, the things we create, how we spend our leisure time, where we travel, and/or our daily patterns of behavior and thought, we get a lovely dose of dopamine.
And when that neurotransmitter courses through our bodies, we experience a delightful shift in our energetic state.
There’s a freshness. A reinvigoration deep within that quenches a longing we may not even be conscious of craving. We feel lighter in our bodies, more clear-headed, and willing to be bold and more adventurous.
We approach our enterprises and projects with a fresh eye. We bring new color into the projects we’re working on—sometimes literally. We leave the sidelines and join in the community of creators without worrying so much about how our work lands. We pursue making something without the shackles of caring about who likes the end result.
We are seated in the freedom of being our true selves.
This cranks the flywheel of possibility deep within and propels us to look up, be open to what can be, and be able to receive inspiration from myriad sources. We can soak in Beauty that drops us to our knees, mends our hearts, and stirs our souls. At the end of our day, we are energized, satisfied, and clear.
Reframing Success, Sidestepping Destructive Patterns
Those of us who lean toward Perfectionism and over-achieving can easily botch the variety formula.
We possess the belief that in order for our lives to count (and our work to be successful), we must constantly be productive. Habits and rituals that would fuel our states and course us through delicious variety are set aside in favor of more doing. More withholding of pleasure, joy, rest.
When we are not aware of our need to have stimulating variety, we can go after it in destructive ways.
A dragging of the self through thickets of days that bend under the weight of sameness. Energy levels so low, we can have nothing left as the work day ends. We turn off our whirring minds with voluminous consumption of our numbing agents of choice.
We’ll do anything to feel a contrast between how we spent our daytime hours and what we feel at night.
From “Doom Loop” to “Variety Tour” in 5 Steps
There is a path out of the doom loop. To be clear, these aren’t 5 “easy” steps—instead they are 5 “necessary” steps. When they are approached with a sense of self-honesty, they’ll help you identify the unique type of variety you’re deeply missing.
1) Recognize the patterns of your days and evenings.
How do your days tend to go? Lots of running around, dousing fires, tending to unrealistic client demands? How do you feel at the end of the day? What choices do you make at night as a result?
2) Ask yourself what you are really craving.
Don’t censor your answers by limiting what you believe is possible for you. Write down every wish, fantasy, dream.
3) What can you start tomorrow to bring more variety into your experience of life?
What are some simple changes you can make like adding a brief morning walk, changing up your routine, meeting a friend for coffee once a week, experimenting with new recipes, freshening up your office, decluttering that junk drawer in the kitchen, booking a trip, or signing up for that art class?
4) Choose one thing that seems too improbable, too scary to try from your answers in #2 and commit to doing it.
Make that one thing your singular goal for the coming year.
5) Choose to stay aware and honor your need for variety.
Variety Will Find Its Way in—Make Sure It’s the Uplifting Kind
When we push aside our cravings for uplifting variety, we will tend to attract low margin, high headache clients, because subconsciously we know that they will keep us busy, with adrenaline and cortisol coursing through us. We know in the backs of our minds we will cycle through multiple highs and lows each day as we frenetically try to meet their needs. As with unused creativity, unmet cravings for variety can easily become toxic.
Our need for variety is so strong, we will actually suffer in order to experience it.
Happily, once we understand this human desire, we can make different choices. We can choose to leverage the power of variety by making decisions that empower us, lift our chins, and steep us in happiness.
Immediately, we will see a shift in our lives and businesses. High margin, low headache clients appear. Our revenue, energy levels, and daily enjoyment go way up. We are intentional, clear. This alignment with strategic focus yields unlimited possibilities and a joyful, creative bounty.