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How thousands have learned to transform their lives

How thousands have learned to transform their lives

Simple ways of discovering the hidden, inner drivers that twist and control your life

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When someone asks any of us to make a decision, we bring all our prejudices, opinions, likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, antagonisms, and bits of knowledge along. The human mind is like a committee—and a pretty bad tempered and cantankerous one too! Like all committees, the mind has some members who have greater clout than others. They hog the floor and shout twice as loudly as the next person. They get together and rig the committee elections so they’ll hold all the power. And once they have a taste of power, like politicians the world over you won’t easily part them from it.

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The only way to break the stranglehold of our habitual behaviors and opinions is to take charge and ignore the baseless fears and anxieties they will erect to try to get their way. Until you do, your life is being run for you, whether the outcome is what you want or no.

Here are four steps that will always transform your day:

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  • Stay alert and make sure you make all choices that matter consciously and in the way that best fits your hopes and dreams. The more deliberately you choose your actions, words, and opinions, the more influence you will have over your life at work and everywhere else.
  • Work to know yourself and then act on that knowledge: the two most basic steps in discovering and realizing your potential. Discover everything about yourself that you can. What do you do best? What gives you most pleasure? What matters to you most? What makes you feel worst? Act on what you find. The only sure way to change anything is to change what is causing it to be the way it is.
  • Be clear that every choice—large or small—is an opportunity to change. Every decision contains the possibility of altering the future. If you ignore chances to influence your life, you must put up with whatever comes along.
  • Don’t let your fears control you. Don’t imagine so many problems that you become distracted and stressed. Instead, look carefully at one option at a time. Follow it through and see where it leads. Then take another option and do the same, directing your attention where you want it to go. If you don’t let your fears make you confused, you can stay focused on positive possibilities and avoid anxiety and stress.

Here’s what to do instead:

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  • Take time to uncover the unconscious patterns in your life. Everyone displays certain automatic, recurring patterns of behavior. They are usually the behaviors that other people think of as “typically you.” Most will have become so automatic and habitual that you may not even be aware of them, yet they govern perhaps half (or more) of your actions. Discover what they are and replace them with conscious choices. That will immediately give you more positive influence over your life.
  • Work out what part you are playing in any situation that you don’t enjoy. Once you see how you’re contributing to each negative situation, you’ll know a good part of what you need to change to alter the outcome. It’s easy to make the comfortable assumption that most of your problems are caused by external events or other people. It’s also almost certain to be untrue.
  • Take some time to decide clearly and specifically what you want from your life at work and outside it. Set firm intentions to make the changes you want. Focus on them with complete concentration. Don’t let anything else get in the way.
  • Use every opportunity to move towards your goals. Don’t just let your attention wander wherever it likes. If you direct your attention consciously and deliberately, you can focus it where it will do most good. Never allow important choices to happen without careful and conscious thought.

Here’s a simple exercise to get you started.

  • Ask yourself if you’re totally happy about your life. If you are not, note down—now—two or three things you want to change.
  • Consider each, in turn, and plan what you can do to change them. Find as many ways as you can to get back in charge of your own destiny. You will need a wide choice, since some will not work and others won’t turn out as well as you wish.
  • Make a start. Don’t wait. Pick an area to change and a set of plans to use. Jump right in. If those plans don’t work, try others. Keep going until you make the changes you want and are happy with them. Then pick the next area for change and do the same.

Take your time. Think! Make careful, rational choices. Do what you can see is best for you, regardless of any attempts to control your behavior from outside. It’s your life, and you’re accountable for it. You can’t avoid that, however much you wriggle. Life is uncertain and you have to deal with it as best you can. It’s up to you whether you do that well or badly . . . or give up altogether and drift along like a jellyfish.

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Have you noticed how many people around you behave like jellyfish—drifting through life at the mercy of chance currents? And how many of them sting too, if you brush up against them? Don’t blame them. That sting is just caused by their misery at their situation, which they wrongly believe they cannot change. You know better.

Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to find a more way of working and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life, and its companion site Slower Living. His recent articles on similar topics include How many precious moments are you wasting? and Are you in danger of using work pressures as an excuse?. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization, is now available at all good bookstores.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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