Sometimes life feels like quicksand - unpleasant, messy, exhausting and like you're about to sink at any moment. And all too often it seems like one of those baggage carousels at the airport where you feel like you're getting somewhere for a moment, only to end up in the exact same place on a regular basis. Again and again and again. Groundhog day. If only someone would throw you a rope for the quicksand situation or come and collect you from the carousel.
Well, more than likely nobody's gonna show, so you may have to do something about it yourself.
1. Stop waiting to be rescued from your situation. Others might help, encourage, support and even cheer you on (all good things) - but ultimately the only person who can genuinely change your life is you. So stop looking in the wrong place. It's not about finding the right book, program or guru, it's about finding some courage and self control. Deep down, most of us know exactly what we need to do, the only problem is... it freaks us out! Take control of your life today; your relationships, your body, your finances, your career and your attitude. Control what you can and don't waste energy on what you can't. Hate to tell you but the Dude with the red boots and the 'S' on his chest; not real. He ain't gonna show. You'll have to rescue yourself.
2. Consciously achieve at least one Personal Growth goal per day. Do something every day (yep, every single day) that you should do but probably wouldn't have done, had you not read this article or made a new commitment. It might be something huge like going to A.A. for the first time, it might be something like healing a damaged relationship or it could be something simple (but significant nonetheless) like going for a twenty minute walk or reducing your chocolate intake by half. As you tick those boxes day after day, your thinking will change, your motivation will increase, you'll become more productive and proactive, and pretty soon you'll be living in a different place. But make sure you do it every day, not just when it's convenient!
3. Stop hoping for a solution and start creating one. They say that a person without hope is lost. Well, I gotta tell you that hope by itself ain't gonna getcha there. Wherever there is. "Let's hope for the best and see what happens" - nice sentiment and all, but not a very helpful or practical strategy for a better life. Useless in fact. The let's-keep-our-fingers-crossed mentality doesn't usually (okay, ever) result in positive long-term change. A better future ain't about luck, destiny, fate and it definitely ain't about hoping that success will find you or that things will work themselves out (one of my least fave cop-outs). Things don't work themselves out; we work them out.
4. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get some perspective. Easier said than done, but very possible. The truth is that all too often we make our life harder than it needs to be. Of course life is one lesson after another, but that's the best part isn't it? That's where we grow, learn, adapt, get strong and become more effective. Or... get a little deeper in our rut. Sometimes we need to step outside of our reality (problems, challenges, environment) to understand and appreciate what we really have and how tough our life isn't. A few years back I went to South Africa with a friend of mine who works for a charity. For two weeks we worked with children infected with the A.I.D.S. virus. When I returned home my problems didn't really seem like problems. At all. I was the only problem I had. The only thing that really needed to change was me. It wasn't about my life, it was about me in it.
5. Change your attitude. Yes an obvious statement I know, but the attitude we take into every situation, circumstance and conversation LARGELY determines the results we create in our life; good attitude - good (or better) outcomes, bad attitude - bad (or worse) outcomes. Don't believe me? Hang out with someone with a bad attitude for a while and tell me what you discover. It seems that I'm one of the few who espouses the 'attitude is a choice' school of thought. Contrary to popular opinion (of some), I believe that the vast majority of us can make today, or any day, good or bad, positive or negative - by choice. Of course we'll have better and worse days, a few hurdles, problems and unforeseen speed humps (we call that life), but let's create the best outcomes possible despite what happens to us, or around us. I spoke to a woman recently who has transformed her life over the last six months. I asked her what made the difference and she told me "I got to a point where I was honestly sick at the sound of my own negativity, complaining and excuses. It was like one day I woke up, realised what I was like and I didn't enjoy what I saw, so I changed. Sounds unbelievable but it's true." And I can tell you; it is true. She is a different person - because she made that decision.
6. Get involved in a project other than yourself! The more self-absorbed we are, the unhappier we'll be and the longer we'll stay in our rut. Ironically, sometimes the answer to overcoming some of our issues is to not focus on (obsess about) our issues. Weird huh? When we become more focused on giving (rather than getting) amazing things happen. We often find a new sense of purpose, we feel needed, wanted and appreciated and we start to shift from a negative to a positive mindset. From selfish to selfless. Nearly every Christmas day I work with the homeless, serving them lunch and it is honestly the best Christmas present I could get.
7. Get in shape. Of course the Exercise Scientist is gonna say that. Well, the research (and observation) does tell us that if you're out of shape physically, there's a high likelihood you'll be out of shape emotionally and/or psychologically (in a rut). Of course we are much more than a mere body, but it's no small coincidence that both obesity and depression are both reaching epidemic proportions at about the same time. And no, the obesity is not (necessarily) causal (the sole reason for the depression), but there is definitely a significant relationship.
8. Find an Accountability Partner. If you're serious about this, then it's often a good idea to use a coach, mentor, friend (etc.) to kick your butt, encourage you, provide feedback, keep you accountable to your commitment and to periodically stop you from sulking and losing the plot.
I need to get my day started bloggers... with a really good workout!
Food and water...