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 June 4, 2021

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Everyone goes through changes in their lives, whether it be aging, emotional maturing, retirement, parenthood, or entering or leaving a relationship. However, some of us seem to embrace chance better than others. When change happens, we may find ourselves wondering how to start over and make the best of the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

You’ve likely been in a situation where you felt that things just weren’t working out. Whether it’s in your personal relationships or career development, you feel stuck and unhappy with the way things are.

You need that change, yet you’re afraid to make the conscious decision to move because you’re not even sure what change you need to make, or you’re afraid you don’t have time to start over in life.

You might have been with the same company for the last 5 years, and the thought of doing the same thing for the next 5 or 10 years scares you. You want to do more, or perhaps even something completely different altogether.

Or you could already be late into adulthood, where you’ve established a good career path, and you’ve got a lot going on, such as a family to care for. You’re financially stable and could potentially be working towards your next promotion. But, somehow, you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve achieved.

There’s just something missing. And yet it feels like it’s too late to leave all that stability behind to embark on a completely new journey of discovery.

Why is that so many of us find ourselves limiting our windows of opportunity and potential because we think it’s too late to learn how to start over?


Meet Jack

At age 37, Jack is a Senior Manager at one of the Big Four and has been working in Audit for over 15 years. He’s got a great salary, owns his own apartment, and enjoys the finer things in life, but not without the heavy demands that his job brings.

On the surface it would look like he’s got life figured out. His next steps would be a promotion to becoming Director, or settling down with someone.

Yet, when I asked him if he was happy with his work, he hesitated before answering. He said that he sometimes wished he could quit his job to do something less stressful. However, he’s become accustomed to this lifestyle and feels that it would be too late to give it up to pursue a new career or ambition.

The external struggles that Jack faces are financial stability, social influences from his peers, the lavish lifestyle he leads, and status or recognition that he gets from continuing with this job. These may be things you’re facing as well.

Internally, Jack faces the risk of losing what he’s built over the years. It just doesn’t seem logical to give up this job for the pursuit of an alternative that would give more meaning to his life.

You might have come across a similar scenario as Jack’s, or you might be a Jack. Whether it’s the stresses and demands of your job, a lack of satisfaction, or a feeling of stagnation, you have to decide if you want to tear down that wall or continue to let it enclose you.

How to Start Over When It Feels too Late

The good news is that as our society continues to develop at such a rapid pace, it also means we have more opportunities to do things that were previously thought impossible. These days, more individuals are pushing the boundaries and breaking stereotypes.


It’s not just about age or education. It’s about you, and your ability to accept challenges and having the determination to break free from your existing situation.

    1. Gain a Fresh Perspective

    To break free from our limitations, we’ve got to take a step back and gain a fresh perspective on just what limitations really are. On the surface, limitations are things that prevent you from doing something, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that limitations are the things that keep you constrained inside a loop.

    They keep you stuck facing the same problems, having the same choices, and taking the same actions over and over again. Limitations define the quality of your life. If you want to improve your life, then you must break free from the limitations that keep you in the same loop every day, month, and year.

    It may seem that the limitations that you’re facing are out of your control or something that just happens to you. However, your reality is derived from your perception.

    It’s not reality that’s important, but rather how you perceive your reality. Being able to control how you look at things is the key to learning how to start over and creating a fresh start. Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything, from your motivation and outlook, to your self-esteem and confidence.

    2. Identify the Challenges

    Once you decide to shift your perspective and look at things in a new way, identify exactly what challenges you’ll face as you try to learn how to start over and reboot your life. If you want to change your job, what’s standing in your way? Is it a lack of education, a poor job market, or simply a lack of motivation?


    If you have just ended a long-term relationship, what difficulties to you foresee in the near future? You may need to find a new living situation, reconnect with old friends, or get used to being alone again.

    To identify what’s holding you back, you can take this Life Assessment for free and get a detailed analysis of how you’re doing in different life aspects.

    Whatever the challenges are, note them down and write down at least three possible solutions. Once you see that each problem has an answer, you’ll begin to put your mind at ease and get comfortable with change.

    3. Check in With Your Values and Priorities

    If you’re determined to start over and change your life, make sure you’re pointing yourself in the right direction as you change. Identify your values and priorities and understand that they’ve likely changed over the years[1].

    When you graduated college, your priority was likely finding a job and making money. Maybe now you’re more interested in developing good relationships with your kids or traveling the world. Be honest with yourself during this process in order to make the most the change you’re going to make.

    You can learn to identify your personal values here.

    4. Utilize the Breakthrough Framework

    The Full Life Framework (as outlined in the book Full Life Essential Guide) provides an overall paradigm shift to turn any limitation into an opportunity that is achievable.


    By going through each of these four steps, you can transform your mind and actions towards the change that is needed to achieve your ultimate goals, and truly break free from your limitations.

    Step 1: Find the Hidden Opportunity

    It’s easy to see what’s standing in your way. Instead, look for any hidden opportunities that will come out of the change as you learn how to start over.

    Step 2: Plan Your Progression

    Create a plan to achieve the change you want to make. Set a long-term goal, and then break it down into smaller short-term goals that you can work on over the next few months or years.

    Step 3: Invest and Prioritize

    Invest your time and energy into making your plan and goals a reality. Prioritize what you do with each moment and create deadlines to ensure that your plan goes smoothly.

    Step 4: Tap Into Motivation and Good Habits

    Even if you have a good plan, it won’t work unless you develop motivation and positive habits that will keep you on track. These habits can include goal setting, daily reflections, and perseverance.

    Grab your copy of The Full Life Essential Guide to learn more on tapping into your motivation to find your life’s purpose.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s possible to make life changes and learn how to start over. Don’t become a person who lets life pass them by only to regret it when you’re retired or far into old age. Don’t let your life plateau and waste away in the daily grind for the next twenty years while wasting the potential you still have.


    Tired of being held back by your limitations? It’s time to break free from them, and start living out your best days.

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    Featured photo credit: Jenna Anderson via


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