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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Quit Your Boring Routine and Reignite Your Life

How to Quit Your Boring Routine and Reignite Your Life

Time passes in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you are in your 30s, wondering where the last decade went. Or, you might be even in your forties or fifties, asking yourself the same questions like “Why am I stuck in this boring routine?” and “Is this all there is to life?” Each day, you blindly march to the same metronomic beat.

Research shows that people are quick to feel regret mainly for things we haven’t done, as opposed to something we have done. In their metanalytic review of 11 regret studies, researchers Neal Roese and Amy Summerville discovered the top six domains participants reported experiencing regret (in descending order): education, career, romance, parenting, self, and leisure.[1]

Drastic change is not essential to start basking in new rays of sunshine in your life. You’ll discover that hidden gems are sparkling with excitement in the most unsuspecting places. You just need to learn how to see them more closely through a different lens.

1. Remember You Are Never Too Old to Learn

In 1936, Anne Martindell dropped out of Smith College at the end of her first year, subject to her father’s disapproval of women being educated.[2] In 2002, Martindell returned to Smith College to accomplish both her undergraduate and honorary degrees at the age of 87.

Even after serving a colorful career in politics, including becoming State Senator of New Jersey and Ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa, Martindell wanted to go back to school.

While going back to formal schooling might not have you champing at the bit, there is no time like the present to exercise your curiosity. The opportunity to learn about pretty much anything is at your fingertips if you have access to a computer. Even Harvard and Oxford universities offer their courses online!

Is there a piece of Martindell within you? Have you started anything that you didn’t get to finish? Is there something you always wanted to learn about or a skill you wanted to develop?

You get to make this learning adventure as long or short as you want. Most importantly, choose an activity that excites you and tickles you emotionally and mentally in all the right places.

2. Never Take the Same Road Twice

A good friend once whispered a golden rule to me that she always stuck to when she traveled in her 20s and still applies today: “Never go the same route twice.” Some of the most incredible places she discovered in her travels were due to forcing herself to get off the beaten track.

My friend used to stray away from mass tour groups and guides’ conventional recommendations. In return, she met incredible locals who shared the undocumented history of the places she was visiting, including stories that were only passed down through word of mouth, generation to generation.

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You don’t have to travel anywhere you haven’t visited to experience that, though. You can make incredible discoveries by becoming an expert tourist in your own hometown or village!

When you walk the dog, for instance, go to a street that you haven’t entered before. Go barista speed-dating and get your morning brew at a different café than your usual haunt. Start taking minor detours and routes to shake up your boring routine. You won’t just discover new places but likely bump into some fascinating people along the way, too.

3. Introduce More’ Play’ at Work

When your workday is flooded with a never-ending to-do list, your pre-frontal cortex is swamped.

With continuous demands to produce something, completing tasks, planning, and critically evaluating how to improve your work, you may become cognitively numb by midday. Continuing down this road may cause you to think of walking entirely away from the job that you used to love. Somehow, you will stop remembering how to enjoy it.

To avoid that, doing fun activities in your workplace can have you tap-dancing your way to work instead of dragging your feet. According to a recent survey, Talent LMS found 89% of respondents reported they felt more productive, and 88% reported feeling happier after using gamified elements at work.[3]

While it takes some planning, creativity, and consultation with colleagues and employees, transforming your work experience is possible. It can reignite and completely change your boring workplace routine.

Gamification doesn’t have to be complicated. The simpler, the better!

For instance, designate an area for small games such as junior-sized skittles, quoits, golf-putting, or darts. For every task that you complete, specify different numbers of tries.

When you achieve successful wins, reward yourself with something that’s equivalent to your efforts. Similarly, you can decide on rewards for a specific number of wins.

If you don’t have time for board games, consider having short-term ‘races’ with colleagues to get things done. Say, you might be working on activities with unique completion targets. Then, you can compete on who manages to reach their goals first or the deadline you have agreed upon among yourselves.

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In this case, try setting short time-frame targets. Compare how you both went at the deadline. Review and share your progress or lack thereof. You might work on individual projects, but you still are driving, supporting each other. Thus, you can connect with your colleagues in the process.

Here are more ways to make a routine exciting again: 30 Ways To Add Fun To Your Daily Routine

4. Tap Into Your Creativity

The benefits of having a creative outlet are numerous. You are not only learning something else but also allowing those parts of your brain that churn and burn through your workday to take a breather.

Creating something from scratch can be intensely satisfying and rewarding emotionally and psychologically. You can undergo an emotional journey, igniting your senses in different ways and intensities.

Undertaking a manual labor type of projects such as pottery, woodwork, interior design, or renovation can have you accessing a fuller range of emotions. It can be intensely satisfying to see the pieces of your creative jigsaw puzzle come together.

Even if you don’t feel you have a creative bone in your body, reading creative literature (e.g., poetry, screenplays, or autobiographies) or viewing artworks causes you to feel pleasure. As you read, you subconsciously search for individual connections with what you are reading. The more you search for its value, the more pleasurable reward systems become activated.

In your already full lifestyle, consider planting spots in your schedule that allow you to let your creative juices show.

Be curious.

Experiment.

You may be amazed once you discover the passions and talents you haven’t realized you have.

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5. Create Daily Experiential goals

Working through your great bucket list (and continually adding to it) is highly recommended. However, you can also enjoy small-scale tasters (as listed below):

  • When you go out, order something you would not usually order.
  • Visit a restaurant you wouldn’t usually visit.
  • Take a different route to get to a destination that you visit regularly.
  • Listen to a different podcast (or parts thereof) each day about something you want to learn or are merely curious about.
  • Let your brain breathe and escape by listening to an audiobook.
  • Go to lunch with a different colleague.
  • Try to have a walk-and-talk meeting instead of conducting them all in the office.
  • Discover and listen to new artists on your Spotify account when exercising or wanting some audio company.
  • Add a minute of crazy, free-form dancing to the end of your exercise routine before you cool down.

Do one thing every day that is a little left field of your everyday habits and routines. In a short space of time, it may be able to lift your mood.

The great thing is that none of these ideas require you to acquire or purchase any tools to experience them or make them happen. You can also decide to do these activities on a whim, considering they don’t require grand planning or assistance. This article might help you, too: 10 Simple Ways to Add Spontaneity into Your Daily Routine

6. Surprise Someone or Be Surprised

Say goodbye to a boring routine and say hello to spontaneity! Doing so helps reignite not just your personal life but your work life as well.

With your intimate partner or close friends, for instance, write down the things you would love to experience or receive on different pieces of paper and put them in a jar. Allow them to pull one out and surprise you with it at any time! Then, do the same for your friends or partner.

Giving presents and gifts is not the ultimate goal here. Instead, it’s about creating opportunities for unexpected delight. It’s about showing someone how much you appreciate, value, and recognize their presence in your life.

Dr. Gary Chapman described the five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, giving gifts, and quality time.[4] Even if intimacy is its primary focus, his suggestions help deepen love in all human relationships.

Don’t wait for special occasions to surprise someone. Random acts of kindness often speak louder than words both in your personal and work life.

7. Learn the Art of Giving

Researchers Dr. Tristen Inagaki and Dr. Naomi Eisenberger found that we experience pleasure when we give to others more than when we receive it. In a study, they found the participants providing support to others trying to complete a challenging task had less activation in stress-response areas.[5] Similarly, those who offered support activated parts of the brain associated with caregiving and experiencing intrinsic reward and personal satisfaction.

Quitting your boring routine doesn’t always mean focusing inwardly and crafting grand plans to alter everything. You can improve your life by directing your attention toward supporting and helping someone else.

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Giving compliments costs nothing. Neither does making someone a cup of coffee when you’re about to make one yourself. Declutter your home and workspace and post items you no longer need on give-away platforms. If you have incredible skills and knowledge in an area, you can become someone’s mentor.

There can be no better way to feel alive than by building and nurturing positive connections.

8. Shake Up Your Boring Routine Regularly

Quitting your boring routine starts with disrupting it, to the point that it can no longer be called as such. However, be careful not to introduce too much disruption at once. Consider introducing a change in small amounts to test if everything goes well for you. Review your initial experiences but don’t give up too early if you’re not feeling instantly gratified.

Anything outside a boring routine can feel jarring, even if it comes from a healthy and positive change. Instead, give yourself time to adjust and let the new become gradually familiar. In a short period, your routine can be far from boring as you start seeing and experiencing the world through a new lens.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Image?

Coco Chanel famously said that when a woman cuts her hair, she is about to change her life.

The decision to interpret Chanel’s quote literally or metaphorically is 100% up to you. However, on a more subtle note, you might want to consider doing something different with your image or everyday look all the same.

When you look back pleasantly at a different reflection of yourself in the mirror, you won’t be able to help but feel different. It will reveal another side of you that’s never been unleashed before.

You’re likely to get mixed reactions from the people you see regularly, but that’s okay.

“No matter what happens, always keep your childhood innocence. It’s the most important thing.” — Federico Felini

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Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

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Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

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Last Updated on March 30, 2021

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

Self-esteem is a driving force behind our confidence and how we see and feel about ourselves. It encompasses our sense of value, significance, and self-worth. That’s why learning how to build self-esteem is essential to personal growth and happiness.

Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem. Yet, having a solid sense of self-esteem has the chance to positively impact and powerfully transform every area of your life – from your relationships to your career, from your health and well-being, to your fulfillment and levels of success.

A deep feeling of self-esteem is something that needs to grow and be nurtured over time. In this article I will show you the things you can do right now to learn how to improve self-esteem. Then, you will realize your hidden potential and your self-worth.

What Is Self-Esteem?

While the dictionary defines it as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect,” put simply, self-esteem is the overall sense or feeling you have about your own self-worth or self-value.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more about how you feel about your abilities and will vary from situation to situation. You can have great self-esteem (feeling good about yourself overall) but low self-confidence about a particular situation or event (e.g. public speaking). Or, maybe you’ve got great self-confidence in an area (e.g. a sport that you play) but low self-esteem overall.

A strong and solid sense of self-esteem comes from deep within, from a belief in your importance, your value, and your worthiness. The good news is that there are many ways to improve self-esteem, which we will look at below.

Causes of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can stem from many areas. It is largely influenced by how other people see and treat us, and our relationships, which is why the influence of our parents has the most significant impact on our self-esteem. Here are some of the most common causes of low self-esteem:

An Unhappy Childhood

Those who grew up with critical, abusive, or neglectful parents are more likely to face challenges with their own self-worth, while those who experienced acceptance, approval, and affection are more likely to have a higher sense of self-value.

Traumatic Experiences

Lower levels of self-esteem can also stem from bad experiences or traumatic events, such as being bullied or being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Essentially, it can stem from anything that has brought up feelings of shame, guilt, or worthlessness.

Experiences of Failure

For some, lower self-esteem is connected to their success and accomplishments, or lack thereof, including experiences of failure, or not achieving goals or expectations.

Negative Self-Talk

Many cases of low self-esteem are perpetuated by negative self-talk. This could be a story that you have created yourself or that someone else created for you long ago that you continue to believe, and it gets in the way of learning how to build self-esteem.

Maybe for you, like for many others, low self-esteem is rooted in your feelings about your appearance or body image. It’s not just about how you look; it’s about how you feel about how you look. We are bombarded with messages from an early age about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, or too much of anything, or not enough of something else.

What Happens When You Lack Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can lead to significant physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addiction. In fact, research shows that adolescents who suffered from low self-esteem grew up to have more physical and mental problems, higher rates of criminal convictions, lower earnings, and challenges with long-term unemployment[1].

On the flipside, a strong sense of self-esteem will help you experience greater health and well-being, better relationships, and higher levels of happiness, fulfillment, and success. One study even correlated higher levels of self-esteem with higher earning potential[2].

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Assess Your Own Self-Esteem

Individuals with low or compromised self-esteem can see themselves as inadequate, incompetent, and even unlovable. While they often know at a “conscious” level that these things aren’t true, they still feel that way deep within. That’s what makes challenges with self-esteem so tricky; it’s often not about the reality of what is, but the perception of what someone feels.

Those with low self-esteem may appear socially withdrawn or quiet, negative, insecure, indecisive, unhappy, or even angry. They are more likely to find themselves in unhealthy relationships, have a fear of failure, and worry about what others think.

On the flipside, those with high self-esteem, more often than not, feel a strong sense of self-worth and value, feelings of confidence and acceptance. They tend to find themselves in healthy relationships (and ditch the bad ones), take care of themselves, and are more resilient when faced with setbacks, obstacles, and failures. In general, they tend to stand up more for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

Self-esteem can be measured on a scale of high to low: while too little has its obvious downsides, you can also have too much of a good thing. Those with an overly strong sense of self-esteem may appear cocky, narcissistic, and self-important.

Finding the balance of a strong sense self of self-worth and humility is important as we go through life, which is why it’s so important to learn how to build self-esteem the right way.

How to Build Self-Esteem (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Self-esteem issues are generally found in the gap between who you are and who you think you should be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you, yet the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Learning how to increase self-esteem is not an easy task. While I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, what I’ve learned is that building and nurturing your self-esteem takes time. However, it is a worthwhile investment. Once you’ve done the work, you’ll reap the many rewards and benefits for a lifetime.

Below are some great strategies to start your journey.

1. Get to the Root Cause

Identifying the real, root cause(s) for your low self-esteem is one of the most important things you can do to build it back up.

We named many reasons above. Maybe one of them, in particular, resonated with you. Perhaps your parents said you were “never good enough” or that you wouldn’t amount to anything. I work with clients all the time who share stories of their parents’ behavior and the significant impact it has had on their self-esteem.

Whatever experiences you may have had, and whatever the root issue might be for you, I strongly recommend you get someone to support you through the process to identify and deal with it. Find a counselor, therapist, coach or someone who is trained in helping uncover and address these traumas, past experiences, and root issues. These folks have proven tools, tactics and strategies – and best of all, they help you experiment in a safe space.

While you may be able to do a lot of work on your own, my experience is that if you don’t address the root cause, that feeling will creep back in over time. You can’t run away from the truth, and you can’t band-aid over old wounds. You’ve got to get to the source, which won’t be easy, but if you want to learn how to build self-esteem, it needs to be done.

For this step, Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment may help. It can show you where you feel fulfilled and where you feel you are lacking. Try it today!

2. See Yourself How Others See You

See yourself how others see you, and talk to yourself as others would talk to you. What do I mean by this? Think about the person who loves you the most in this world.

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Now, take a moment, zoom out, and imagine you are standing in their shoes and watching through their eyes. Look from their perspective and see yourself as they see you.

What do you notice about you? What would they say to you? What do they love about you? What do they see in you?

3. Do Your Best

Simple advice is often the best advice. When you do your best and place your full effort into each and every day, you start to feel better about yourself.

Now, your best might change from day to day, and some days, your best won’t be as good as it was the day before. It’s important to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, right now, in that situation, with that time frame, your level of skill or knowledge.

When you know you’ve done your best, you have no regrets and nothing about which to feel bad or guilty. If you do your best and then someone criticizes you, it’s easier to brush off when you know you did the best you could.

I ask my clients (and myself) this question all the time, whether they’re ruminating over something they’ve said, thinking about what they could have done better, or just disappointed about an outcome they had hoped to achieve. Did you do your best? If the answer is yes, then there’s nothing more you can do – until next time.

4. Engage in Activities That Satisfy You

The key word here is satisfy. Find things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness and purpose.

Too often we engage in activities or relationships that leave us feeling self-conscious, empty, or terrible about ourselves. It’s time to put more focus, time, and effort to do those things that feel good for your body, mind, and spirit, and to engage in things that make you feel whole and full.

Identify what satisfies you mentally (e.g. solving a big problem or creating something new), emotionally (e.g. hanging out with friends or volunteering), physically (e.g. exercising, eating right, or taking care of your body), and spiritually (e.g. meditation or going to your place of worship).

When you engage in something that makes you feel good and, even more importantly, makes you feel worthwhile, you will experience greater self-esteem.

5. Identify Who You Are and Be True to That

Self-awareness and a little soul searching are critical to your success in life and key to learning how to build self-esteem. In some cases, lack of self-esteem stems from a lack of knowing the kind of person you truly are, and the value you bring. Many of us have spent so much time trying to fit in and please others that we’ve completely lost our sense of self.Spend time paying attention and getting to know yourself. Take time to identify who you are. Some things to think about include:

  • Identifying your strengths and talents
  • Acknowledging your value and worth, and uncovering your passions
  • Understanding your values and what’s important to you
  • Thinking about how you want to serve or contribute to the world
  • Acknowledging your blind spots

6. Accept Yourself

Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done, or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have.

We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

7. Stop Compromising Yourself

When you let others push you around, put everyone else’s needs before your own, or cave in to what everyone else wants because you don’t want to rock the boat, it lowers your self-esteem. You are putting their needs ahead of yours, and your mind thinks to itself, “I guess I’m not that important.”

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I worked with two different clients just last week on this very thing. They were both putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own, and it was having a significant and negative impact on their health and well-being.

Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t take care of your kids and spouse, meet your work deadlines, or be there for your friends. But you’ve also got to take care of you. We compromise ourselves to fit in, to be loved, and to be acknowledged. However, if you are constantly compromising yourself, you will never truly feel satisfied.

How often do you let what others think of you or need from you dictate your actions or decisions?

If you want to learn how to build self-esteem, be strong, and stand up for yourself. It’s time to identify what you need and want for your life.

Decide what is important to you. Naming these things will give you an inner compass to guide you. Then, identify your boundaries and the non-negotiables in your life. What are you not willing to put up with anymore? 

Get clear on these things now, so when the time comes to push back, stand up, or politely say no, you have the back-up and inner guidance to do so.

8. Look for the Good

We tend to find what we are looking for. Put simply, people tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true.

The same goes for how you see yourself. If you believe you are worthless or unlovable, you will find data to back that belief up. However, if you believe you are worthwhile and beautiful, or courageous and strong, you will soon find data to back that up instead.

The challenge with those who suffer from low self-esteem is that they have gotten into a habit of finding what’s wrong. Often, there is a negative message lodged in their subconscious mind. In some cases, they’ve just gotten really good at seeing all their faults and shortcomings.

The easiest way to change what you see is to change what you’re looking for. Catch yourself doing something right.

Try this: Grab a journal, and for the next 21 days, write down 3 things you value, appreciate, or like about yourself. This might include acknowledging your wins or successes, things you are proud of, or noticing what you feel good about. While it may feel challenging at first, you’ll soon start to rewire your brain to see more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.

9. Stop Negative Self-Talk

Much of your belief systems come from the negative story you are telling yourself. Your mind believes what you tell it, and if the story you are playing (over and over again) in your mind is one of the horrible mistakes you’ve made, that’s what you will continue to reinforce and strengthen through negative thoughts, which makes building confidence very difficult.

Tell yourself you are worthless and incapable; your mind will believe that. Tell yourself you are able and awesome; your mind will believe that, too.

Catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk today if you want to learn how to build self-esteem.

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10. Find Your Tribe

Since so much of our self-esteem is influenced by our relationships and how others see and treat us, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with healthy, uplifting, encouraging, and supportive people.

Find people who know the real you, people who can speak to the value you bring, your talents and worth. These are people who can be real with you, sharing the positive and the constructive in an uplifting way.

11. Take Chances

Many great minds have shared that failure has been key to their success, the stepping stone to their greatness, and the catalyst to their growth. You might have heard the stories about Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity basketball team, Oprah Winfrey being told she wasn’t “meant to be on TV,” and Steven Spielberg being rejected for film school not just once, but three times.

Taking chances, experiencing failure, and building resilience is key to learning how to build self-esteem. After all, if you never take a chance, you will never know – and you’ll stay stuck in your story.

12. Find Meaning and Create Goals

As humans, we all need to learn, develop, grow, and contribute. When you are suffering from low self-esteem, this can create a vicious cycle:

You don’t feel great about yourself, so you don’t go out there and make stuff happen. Because you’re not being successful, you feel a lack of self-worth.

    It’s time to break the cycle.

    Take steps that allow you to become who you are truly capable of being. Perhaps this is about finding something that gives you meaning, or maybe it’s about the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. For example, the act of helping others (contributing, volunteering and being kind) have shown to not only increases self-esteem, but also happiness, health, and satisfaction[3].

    Start with something small and work your way up. Each small success will bring about greater confidence and, ultimately, a stronger sense of self-esteem.

    The Bottom Line

    The journey to higher self-esteem will be challenging, but the challenge is what builds depth, strength, character and resilience. If the reward is greater self-esteem, which leads to greater relationships, a better career, increased health and well being, more success, and a greater sense of self-worth, it’s worth it.

    While you live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with messages of not being enough and how you could be better, just remember this:

    You are deserving of love, happiness, and success. You are imperfectly perfect. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time, and even if you feel inadequate, unlovable, or unworthy, know that you are none of those things.

    You may not be able to believe this yet, but some part of you, deep down inside, knows this to be true.

    Now, it’s time to take the steps above and realize it for yourself.

    More on How to Build Self-Esteem

    Featured photo credit: Barbora Polednová via unsplash.com

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