Published on December 24, 2020

How to Break out of the Box and Live Life on Your Own Terms

How to Break out of the Box and Live Life on Your Own Terms

Good things come in boxes. Sometimes the color of the box has us salivating in anticipation. Tiffany Blue or Hermes Orange are iconic colors that let expectations run high, as we know a treat awaits. So why do we want to break out of the box?

For the same reason that the Tiffany bracelet and Hermes scarf are enjoyed and utilized once out. Neither is meant to stay there tarnishing or gathering dust without living out their purpose.

We are not meant to be in boxes. They limit us, rendering us less brilliant in all senses—less fully developed, less the person we are meant to be.

In a box we are not only less effective and less impactful, but we get trapped. The confines of the box restrict us to seeing ourselves, the situation, others, and the future in a rigid and narrow way.

Box living keeps us small—our vantage point and way of doing things. It is hard to be creative and impossible to be our full magnificent selves from inside a box. Boxes are holding places, not creative spaces. To become ourselves, we need to always be creating.

How can we get out of the box, then?


1. Practice Self-Awareness and Inner Courage

Before you break out of the box, you must first recognize that you’re in one. This sounds easy, but sometimes we are so caught up in the same old patterns of thinking and doing things that we forget to stop and have a look around—to take our pulse.

If you aren’t in a groove that results from a fluid dance of your purpose and values in daily life, you are in a box.

Here is the tell-tale sign that you are in a box: You wish for different outcomes but keep experiencing the same ones; you feel stuck and you have lost your spark.

You might alter some minor things, but if your relationship and the end result to the thing you are wishing to change or create stays the same, then those walls aren’t going to be coming down anytime soon.

Get clear on what you wish to achieve (take the long term view) and how you wish to achieve it. The what and the how are of equal importance. The long term view will allow you to be less reactive and more thoughtful and innovative. When we imagine the bigger picture, our planning and decision making has space to allow for a host of possibilities.

Possibility is all about curiosity and openness. Both lead to flexibility. None of those are the domain of in-the-box living.


You can get curious by asking:

  • What matters most to me?
  • What do I need and want today and tomorrow?

These are about what you want your legacy to be—what you want to leave behind as your work and/or the way you move through your days and touch others. It’s about honoring the things that make you you.

When you align with your purpose and values and act from them, you will be able to break out of the box. No box can hold you when you are acting in alignment and integrity.

2. Fact Check the Stories You Tell Yourself

We quickly add our opinions about why we can’t, won’t, or why something isn’t working or will fail. Be honest with yourself. Admit what is before you and what kind of help you need.

Be lean and mean about discerning fact from fiction. Editorialize all you want as long as what you add to the facts is going to energize you and not bring you down. That is called dreaming.

Dreaming gets us motivated and brings in new ideas. We excite our positive emotions. Invite those in with open arms. Create plans and goals from those dreams. Essentially, a goal is a dream with a deadline.


To help your story telling be an awesome CEO of your life, make sure the storyteller is your inner-sage and not your inner-judge[1].

You will know by the positivity vs. the negativity of each. The judge tires you out quickly, and the feeling of possibility melts away. The judge is the CEO of the box you are in.

The sage comes in when you exercise empathy and that ever-important curiosity.

Don’t give yourself a hard time for having been in a box—even if it has been for a very long time—or about what hasn’t worked. The judge will be all too happy to have you indulge in that kind of self-criticism.

To ignite the sage through curiosity and break out of the box, ask:

  • What assumptions have I been making that are false or detrimental?
  • What assumptions am I making in general?
  • What do I need to take ownership of instead of blaming on someone else?
  • What do I know to be true?
  • What is the next right move?

Play is another way to employ your sage as your CEO. There is nothing like play to encourage the sage’s fresh vantage point and stir up the sage’s innate creativity and endless energy.


Play need not be physical. It’s about doing something that delights, that has an element of surprise and lets time fly by. It just needs to not be too tightly scripted or have an attitude of heaviness.

To add some extra box-breaking strength to this whole process, do something you haven’t done in a long time, or try something new. Novelty is like a strong wind that rattles the sides of your box and lets fresh air come in. Plus, that new oxygen will let you breathe bigger, deeper breaths that will inform your dreams and actions even more.

3. Get Comfortable With Experimenting and Failing

Remember that being in a box is all about repeating what doesn’t work! Isn’t that a bigger failure than failures that come as you experiment ways to realize your dreams? Failures are not bad; they are information givers.

To see failure as your ally, engage your sage. That empathetic part of yourself will not beat you up and have you feeling bad about went “wrong.” Instead, the sage will have you find the gift in whatever unfolds and encourage you to design from there.

Final Thoughts

By getting out of any box you currently inhabit, you will start living life on your own terms. You are liberated from the confines of limiting beliefs and actions. You will be more you since you will not be held back from restrictive habits of mind and practices.

What does your sage—that intuitive part of yourself—say about what would be a great first step to get out of the box that has you stuck?

One bit of freedom leads to another. Each shake-up becomes part of the revolution that will help you fully break out of the box. It’s a revolution to bring about your evolution. To be your evolved self is the very definition of living life on your terms!

More on How to Break out of the Box

Featured photo credit: Chermiti Mohamed via


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Adele Dujardin

Adele is an author, speaker, and coach who empowers others to lead from their creative wise selves, and have fun doing it.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

7 Steps to Reinventing Yourself and Reach Your Goals

7 Steps to Reinventing Yourself and Reach Your Goals

Even though there are some people who feel great about their job and have somehow managed to find a good lifestyle that suits them, many still feel trapped and dissatisfied. There are people out there that are desperate for a change, be it in their personal life, their career or something else. The worst thing you can do is to keep your feelings bottled up and soldier on. Depression affects a good chunk of the population but making a change can be scary and difficult. However, if you decide to face the fear of failure and reinvent yourself, there are certain steps that you have to take to improve your chances of success.

1. Decide on what you want to focus on

Never plan a big change in your life and career, with only a vague idea of what you wish to accomplish. Sit down and think about all the things you are interested in, would like to do and see yourself investing a great deal of time in. Your motivation can be money, passion, reducing stress, being free to make your own decisions, or having more free time on your hands eventually. Find a path that suits you and bravely make the first step.

2. Always try to make some time for your new passion

We can all be busy and have hectic schedules, but if you really want to make a change you’ll need to find a way to make time for your new passion in life. You’ll need to spend a lot of time learning new skills and acquiring great amounts of information, so most of the free time you have will have to be used up for improving yourself. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes on a break or if you have to sacrifice your TV hour after work to studying, you need to make the sacrifice. Only by completely doing away with useless procrastinating activities like watching TV, YouTube clips or playing games, can you find enough time to earn a living, work on reinventing yourself and improve your mind and body.

3. Keep educating yourself and look for resources

A lot of people complain about the lackluster education system and rightfully so. Today you need a bunch of forms for everything, and although efforts are being made to switch to online forms that would make everyone’s life easier, we are still a long way from enabling quick and efficient decisions to be made within the education system. Changes are made very slowly as it takes ages to process all that written information.


This is why you don’t develop any applicable skills or learn a whole lot in school – everyone seems to be focused on bureaucracy instead of effective education. This is why you have to do all the research and learn on your own if you want to get anywhere. In this age of online courses, cheap eBooks and video tutorials it’s not very difficult to find the information you need from respected sources. Start off slow and learn about the basics, then branch out and keep devouring books on the subjects you wish to specialize in.

A good way to get started is to look at the bibliography listed in the more basic books and do some online research to find out who the most trusted experts on the topic are, and just get their books. Even if you’re very busy and strapped for time, devote an hour a day on reading and if you have plenty of free time, fill it up with reading and research. If you get bored, then switch to improving your general knowledge to keep things interesting.

4. Do plenty of networking, both online and offline

Between all that reading and your usual obligations you’ll have fairly little free time, mostly in the evenings or on the weekend, and you’ll want to make the most out of it by relaxing and having some fun. You may also take a few breaks during the day and scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feed for something interesting. These are great opportunities to do some networking. While you’re out about town, try sparking up conversations with people.

Keep going out, hanging out with your friends and meeting new people. Ask around to find out if anyone knows someone who works in the industry you are interested in and offer to buy that person a round of drinks in exchange for a short conversation. When on social media, look for people that share the same professional interests and follow industry influencers to get some inside info about new trends and tactics. Always be on the lookout for networking opportunities.


5. Create a schedule, but don’t look too far into the future

Having a clear schedule is a good idea when you are trying to make the most of any given day, and setting goals helps keep you motivated and on track. However, you can get bogged down on plans for the future, career choices you’ll have to make and the money you will be able to earn, so much that you lose sight of smaller goals.

You can also psyche yourself out and lose motivation, or spend a good amount of time daydreaming instead of doing something useful. In the begging it’s all about learning the basics, steadily developing deeper knowledge, getting a bit of experience and becoming more proficient in your new chosen profession. Only once you’ve become good at it, can you start thinking about career-building opportunities and make long-term plans.

6. Take care of your body and mind by staying fairly fit

If you have health problems, don’t sleep well, and have dietary deficiencies, living a fast-paced life and reinventing yourself is going to be a whole lot harder. Physical exercise can help keep your hormones in balance, prevent chronic aches and pains, and lower the risk of a lot of illnesses. It will make you feel more focused and full of energy.

Getting plenty of quality sleep is also incredibly important for keeping your mind fresh and working at 100% capacity – which is the key to fast learning and reducing stress.


A 30-40 minute workout session or 10-15 minutes of active running will tire you out and make it easier to fall asleep, which combined with some stretching and keeping your bedroom in complete darkness will help you get those 8-9 hours of sleep your body needs.

Eat a decent amount of fruit, vegetables and unsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts, and fish oil) during the day to keep your mind and body working at optimal levels and to keep your immune system in check. With 3-4 hours of exercise per week and some healthy food in your diet, you will be much more positive and productive.

7. Hang out more with people who are supportive and can help you grow

Most people won’t welcome change, particularly if you are doing something that doesn’t fit the side of your character that everyone has gotten to know over the years. Some will even discourage you or try to distract you. You will be pressured to spend more time with others, and time will become a very valuable resource to you.

This is why you should quickly and efficiently cut off everyone that keeps pulling you back or expects a lot from you without giving anything back. You know the kind, constantly asking for favors, looking after their own interests above all else and nowhere to be seen when you are in a pinch and need some help.


Focus your efforts on people who give you support, aren’t afraid to tell you their opinion without judging you and that can actually help you out. You need to be around people you are compatible with and whose company you enjoy in the little spare time you have, and around people who can help you improve.

There are no guarantees, and you might fail once or twice before finding a good path for yourself, but that shouldn’t discourage you. It’s better to work hard and overcome adversity in the end, than to toil away feeling miserable.

Featured photo credit: Sharon Christina Rørvik via

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