Albert Einstein is credited for the definition of insanity.
Insanity: doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results.
I had an epiphany related to a personal pursuit that is basically summarized by this quote. ‘Spinning my wheels’ might be another appropriate catchphrase.
The repetitive nature of what I was doing was unnoticed because I was looking at it from the perspective that there was safety in repeating the process. Over and over. And getting the same result.
All too often we hear consistency is key. Key to what? Doing the same thing over and over? Are we rewarded when we repeat our efforts? In a sense, yes. I cannot deny that long-term effort does yield results in some regards. However, it can also create a false sense that we are being proactive when we’re probably more complacent than anything. (See my last post to read about my thoughts on complacency.)
Doing the same things over and over feels safe. There is security in things that feel familiar. Routine can be really helpful to an extent. It can also impede progress.
I’m constantly questioning so many of the challenges I see people doing; 100 squats for 100 days, 75 Hard, running or activity streaks that span many weeks, months, or years, etc. They’re cool and a great way to build new habits but is there growth, figuratively and literally, in doing the same thing over and over? At the end of a 100-day streak of squatting how much strength have you built? Does doing 100 squats feel easier on day 100 than it did on day one? If you run a mile a day every day for 300 days, on day 301 are you going to feel fit enough to go run 13 miles? If you complete 75 Hard, what happens on day 76?
While I do love routine and ritual related to some of my personal practices (my 5-year sobriety streak or daily morning meditation practice for example), I know the value of getting off the hamster wheel once we recognize that we’re on it.
My newfound awareness of the repetitive actions I’ve taken out of comfort and safety has shaken me. It’s given me an opportunity for self-assessment and instead of throwing in the towel because I wasn’t getting the result I desired (and was getting pretty much the same result over and over), I’ve decided to switch things up.
Variety, changing things up, finding new ways to refine a process, and willingness to explore other ways of doing something, I believe, will yield better results than doing the same things on repeat over and over.
I think it will honestly salvage my sanity!