Risk Lies In Routine: 8 Ways To Stay Fresh

We don’t stay fresh by sitting still.

Unless you’re meditating, of course. 🧘🏽‍♀️

But we’re not like fruit and veggies that last longer in the crisper drawer. Or bread that stays fresher in a sealed plastic bag. Or meat that’s best refrigerated until it’s time to toss it onto the heat.

Sure, take these precautions with your food and you’ll have tastier morsels hitting your tastebuds when you’re ready to chow down.

But when humans try to “protect and preserve” our businesses, we get stale.

Sit at the same desk all day expecting new ideas?
Fill up days in meetings with the same people expecting different outcomes?
Stare at the same computer screen expecting an expanded perspective?
Do the same thing, with the same clients expecting to stay challenged?

Not good for you, your business or your clients.

That’s not to say you can’t have a little sameness. I love me some continuity.

But risk lies hidden in routine.

When I sensed myself getting stale in my franchise business, I kept at it long after the challenge had worn off because it was producing a comfortable income and lifestyle.

I kept having the same conversations with the same types of clients. All lovely people, but it was the same general conversation headed in the same direction.

But then the need for change became more intense and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. So I started exploring options for my next thing. After about 9 months of this, I suddenly decided to walk away without any solid options. I needed a new challenge to stay alive.

I made the mistake of exploring my options much too late.

Walking away is NOT for everyone. Some people will be perfectly happy doing the same thing over and over until the end of time. But that’s not 97% of the women out there who are crushing it in their businesses.

You can *shush* the whisper for only so long.

So before you end up in a vegetative state 🍅🥕🥦, you need to get up and get out of your routine.

And as adventurous as I can be, I’ll admit that I have to force myself to leave my cozy apartment sometimes because I forget that working my business the same way a dog works a bone is NOT what I signed up for.

If you want to keep things fresh, here are 8 swaps I’ve made in an intentional effort to keep myself and my business from getting stale.

Some are easy. Others are less easy. Either way, hopefully something will inspire a change or two for you.

1. Hit up a dance party / in lieu of a regular workout.

Frank Morrison, a former colleague from my franchise days taught me early on that health is mission critical to being successful in business. I’m pretty religious about it.

Words can’t describe how much I DO NOT enjoy dancing OR getting up early.

But hitting up a Daybreaker dance party every now and then to see the creative costumes, laugh with my friends and hang out in an interesting space (rooftop of the William Vale Hotel overlooking NYC, top of the Freedom Tower, under the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History…) inspires me in different ways than my morning lap around Central Park, kickboxing or a killer workout at OrangeTheory.

This particular video is from the 104th floor of the Freedom Tower at 7am! 🙌🏼


A much different scene afterward seeing people shuffling along in their routine of silence on the way to the office. Listen…

2. Attend an art exhibit / and skip the social media planning day.

Every single time I see art, my heart opens just a little bit more. Getting to the Whitney to see the Warhol exhibit was exactly the medicine I needed to remind myself that the creativity and adventure of artists is something we can apply to our own businesses.

I love the unexpected angle of this ad Warhol did for Volkswagon that highlights what’s wrong with the car. How often do we do that?

A Warhol ad that highlights what was WRONG with this car was unexpected!

Then I got lucky when I tripped over the vivid and bodacious art at the pop-up gallery that the iconic Diane von Furstenberg cooked up with artist, Ashley Longshore in time for Women’s History Month.

Here are a few paintings for you…

And to hit up the Brooklyn Museum and learn more about Frida Kahlo’s attitude, despite her disability was insanely inspiring. I’ve had shit days if I stub my toe. She wore a body brace and special shoes to accommodate her physical limitations. It’s made me think differently about any perceived adversity I face.

Oh yeah, and her art is cool too. (No pics.)

3. Rotate where you work / instead of sitting at the same desk, in the same chair.

Thanks to a coffee shop on every block, my patio (especially in the spring) and various restaurants that serve as co-working spaces — there are options to not work in the same surroundings every day. I’ll admit this one is tougher for me to do, but I know when to pull out my Starbucks ace-in-the-hole for coaxing certain projects out of myself.

Plus, it’s super fun to observe people in public spaces and listen in on their conversations. I recently heard two guys talking about fear as it relates to work and women at the Oculus at 9.30 in the morning.

4. Observe the sales tactics of street vendors / and set the funnel creation aside for a moment.

I’ll occasionally hang out at Columbus Circle and watch the guys (why always guuuuuuys?) who hawk the horse drawn carriage rides, bicycle cart tours and bike rentals. They’re fascinating! They run over to every taxi that pulls up and help people get out of the car. That’s like their version of a freebie. The “funnel” starts there. Giddy up!

5. Listen to podcasts that entertain / instead of learning the business tactic du jour.

I could spend 24×7 talking and learning about business things. But listening to comedians and storytellers takes me OUT of what I think and do for most of the day and allows my brain to relax. Which then fires up the coolest ideas for my clients. And makes me an all around happier person.

One of my faves is Dax Shepard who hosts Armchair Expert.  He likes messy as much as I do. And the guy is real.

6. Host a podcast / in lieu of private catch up calls with my colleagues.

Adding my Burn The Bullsh*t podcast to my life requires effort, yes. But I love that I now share conversations I’d be having privately with my colleagues anyway. Except in the podcast, I drive the conversation to reveal mindset minefields and find out how it’s changed the way successful women do business.

But the unexpected surprise is that it’s expanded my universe of coaching inspiration even further. And what I learn in those conversations always seems to land at the right time.

For example, I interviewed Tina Forsyth last week (airing April 10) and she told me about something she changed up in her business. A few hours later, I was talking with a colleague and realized she had a similar problem so suggested a twist on Tina’s idea to her.

Within days… BOOM!!! She already had someone take her up on her new offer.

Plus I love being the “Ellen” of business coaching. Because what could be more fun than asking my friends questions, laughing and playing “what if” games?! (Of course you’ll be the first to know when my Carolyn underwear line comes out. 😂)

7. Take a non-business related class / instead of another industry course.

An uber talented graphic designer who works for Cosmopolitan mag admits that taking a year-long font creation course didn’t make him a better designer. So instead, he’s heading to Japan for a one week intensive ramen cooking class  with his wife. He’s figured out that getting entirely away from all things “design” will actually inspire better design.

This is exactly my reasoning for spending the month of May working from Spain, hosting private fun size strategy days in Barcelona while I’m there and later this year hosting a group retreat in Portugal.

8. Run away / instead of showing up.

And speaking of travel, there was a verrrrrry long stretch where I forgot to leave the country. And let me tell you, all US and no Europe (or Asia or…) makes Carolyn a dull girl. Pushing myself out of the nest not only develops a fresh worldview due to an expanded context, but the contrast allows for introspection and makes me a better coach.

What’s one thing you’ll swap out in your business to keeps things fresh?

It can be big or small. Just look for the area where you’re doing the same-same and feeling cross-eyed. Then get out of your routine by doing something, anything really, differently.

Stay fresh, my friend.


Posted In: Mindset & Priorities