Routines and patterns are important to the thread of many of our daily lives. Things such as getting up at the same time, eating the same breakfast, and driving the same route to work are extremely common. If one of these types of tasks changes, how do you react? If an ingredient you need for your usual breakfast isn’t available, is it easy for you to change course? What if there is an accident on your usual route to your office?

The ability to change mid-course during any action or activity is important. For many people, changing course is very difficult and results either wasted time or squandered opportunities. For those who can adapt quickly, their day is easier or whatever they are involved in at the time has better results.

An example for me is an oral argument before a court. I always prepare an outline, practice, and go in with a plan. Sometimes I go through my outline, finish what I planned to say, and sit down. Most times, I am taken off course from my outline either through positions or arguments taken by the opposing party or questions from the judge. In those situations, you have to adapt quickly. It’s not okay for me to ignore an opposing party’s argument or a judge’s question, and potentially worse for my client. Instead, I have figured out how to include responding to a new argument or answering a judge’s question and returning to where I was on my outline. This type of in the moment situation certainly keeps me focused and ready to change what I’m addressing on a dime.

In every day life, is more likely that an accident or traffic will cause you to want to change your route to work. Today many apps make it easier and will tell you the next best route to take. Sometimes you have to make those decisions.

My family and I were recently on a road trip. On a particular day we had a long drive planned. Of course, we got a late start and various things along the way caused us to be well behind schedule. We could’ve gotten mad. We could’ve pushed through to our destination making it an even longer day than planned. Instead, because we had the ability to be flexible, we changed routes and ended up in a different city than planned that night. We were lucky that our overall plan allowed this and our original destination wasn’t somewhere we had to be that evening. At the same time, this decision wasn’t stressful because both my wife and I are able to adapt to circumstances, make decisions, and then follow them.

Another way to look at the need for immediate change is opportunity. When an ingredient you need for your breakfast is missing, it’s an opportunity to make a change and try something else, if only for a day. I am a big user of Waze. This has taken me through many beautiful neighborhoods between my home and office I never would’ve seen even though they are not that far from my home. The point is the need to change course can bring opportunity, some entertainment, and maybe some enjoyment.

Next time you’re presented with the need to deviate from your usual routine, try to have an open mind and find the good or beauty in the difference from what you usually do.