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How to Change Your Life By Exploring

How to Change Your Life By Exploring

High up above the city, I stood in my boss’s office, looking out the vast window. To the left, the tallest volcano was far off but still loomed large over the city. On the right, the sprawling lake lay out before me, its far shore only a faint line of mountains in the distance.

The office door opened, and my boss walked in straight to his desk. He motioned for me to sit down, as he sat down at his computer, peering at his monitor through the lower half of his glasses.

I took my seat in a chair across his desk and took a deep breath, trying to make it as silent as possible. Telling your boss you want to quit isn’t easy, but hiding the anxiety is better than letting it show.

And so I began.

I told him there wasn’t enough work for me to do because I was being blocked off by certain people. I told him that, instead of sitting around idly, I could become a consultant for the company, providing value as soon as there’s actual work to be done.

He tried to convince me to stay, telling me that it was up to me to fix the internal communication problems and get myself in front of clients.

Kindly, I said: “My life’s work isn’t about fighting people for a pat on the back or an award. My life’s work is about reaching people, helping people. If I can’t do that here, I’ll go do that somewhere else.”

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He shifted in his chair and brought his feet up to rest on his desk, one beside the other. Sighing, he rested his head on his hand and agreed.

I didn’t know where I was going or what I would do, but I knew that I would figure it out by exploring my options.

As of this writing, it’s been nearly two years since I walked out of that corporate office forever. I still have not received a single phone call from them. Not a single project to work on. I jumped at the right time. Without a single project to work on, they would’ve ushered me down the plank soon after. Instead of waiting for them to open the door for me, I steered clear of their issues and opened my own doors.

I wasn’t sure where my own doors would lead me, but things don’t always have to make sense.

That’s the main lesson I’ve gotten from starting a blog on a whim, writing books, and starting my own company.

Every single time I do something out of sheer exploration (with no real end in mind), crazy things happen.

I was scared to speak at a TEDx event, and I wasn’t too sure what I’d speak about, but I took the stage and had a blast.

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My business’s first year was more or less wasted on the wrong kind of clients because I had no clue what services I wanted to offer, but I’ve learned so much now that I’m implementing in a better version of my business.

I’ll be nervous to press Publish on this article, but I’ll feel glad I shared my experiences afterward.

That’s not to say things always out turn out wonderfully. I’ve made huge mistakes (like working with disrespectful clients or letting the wrong people onto my business’s founding team), and I have yet to find the “silver lining” of these mistakes. But these roundabout mistakes have all contributed to where I am today.

If I hadn’t been open to exploring, I don’t know that I’d have picked up all of these different experiences, lessons, bruises and opportunities along the way.

1. Opening Up to Possibilities

The first months after I quit my job were so serene. I woke up and did what I wanted to do each day–I wrote. I’ll never forget how peaceful and zen I felt making my tea each morning, sitting down for two or three hours of uninterrupted writing.

I didn’t rush. I bathed in the possibilities to come.

As time went on, I didn’t always make the right choices, but they were my own explorations of the possibilities. Some of those choices turned out to be incredibly right.

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A few weeks ago, I received an email out of the blue from my master’s program in Spain. They wanted to know if I’d get on a plane and come speak to their incoming students? My answer: hell yes!

This is a great opportunity, to be sure, but what’s more important is how quickly I was able to say yes. Leading a flexible and open-minded lifestyle means I am able to switch things up and do amazing things, like going to Spain to speak.

For that, I’m so grateful.

2. Enhance Creativity

When we’re nose-down in tasks and beeping phones and incoming emails, it’s difficult to let our creativity reach its potential.

They say it’s healthy to take a new route home or to brush your teeth with your left hand just to get your brain out of its comfort zone. While I do agree that changing things up can help you do that, I also think its helpful to passionately explore new areas.

That means reading books that are outside of your industry just because they spark your curiosity. That means watching a silly movie just because you need a moment to refuel your batteries. That means calling up an old friend just because you miss who you were when you hung out with her.

Mind-wandering allows the brain to focus its attention on more distant tasks and issues in a unique way, allowing you to approach them in ways you’d never considered.

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When we’re trying to perform, perform, perform, we might just be scaring our ideas away.

3. Identifying the “Wall”

Sometimes, I go for a long run. When I do, there is always a moment between the second and third mile that will almost stop me in my tracks. I’m tired, out of breath, and my body wants to be anywhere but here. I call this “The Wall”.

“The Wall” is temporary–every single time.

Not everything in life is easy. Many of the examples I mentioned above (like working with difficult clients) weren’t easy to go through, but they all taught me one thing:

Hitting a tough moment is much easier when you can recognize it as such–because every tough moment passes.

The beautiful part is this: if you start exploring knowing it will be an adventure, you can identify a rough patch as you’re sitting in it and think, “This is that tough moment I knew would come eventually. It will pass.”

And the next moment is much more beautiful.

Allowing myself to explore opened up entire fields of possibility that I never knew existed. Are you interested in exploring more in your life about yourself, your loved ones, and the world? Share your stories in the comments.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

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. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well 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. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

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, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which 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 a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up 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. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

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.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

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.

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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 end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

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

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

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.

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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 why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

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, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

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

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. 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. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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