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How to Set Yourself on the “Right” Path

How to Set Yourself on the “Right” Path

    A few years ago, I stumbled on a letter I wrote to my future self when I was 15. I’ll spare you the bad writing but, it was frustrating to see how far I had strayed from the plan.

    I hadn’t moved to Australia, I wasn’t an architect. I wasn’t rich and I wasn’t travelling 6 months a year.

    In the eyes of 15 year old me, I was a failure, yet, I had done many other things.

    Turns out, John Lennon had it right…

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    Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

    Although I had done other things and made progress in other ways, I had lost track of what my ambition wanted me to achieve.

    Through being busy, I had chosen opportunities, relationships and a lifestyle that only met my short term needs. It was time for me to reclaim my ambition.

    You can’t rely on serendipity

    Some people are lucky, they find passion for acting, medicine or police work early in their life and stick to it. But, they’re the exception; it’s a lot harder for most of us.

    Through trial and error, we’re good at discovering what we don’t want (a 9 to 5, a business, a boring job, stress) but terrible at discovering what we really want to do.

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    How can we know how we’ll feel about things we’ve never experienced?

    At some point, whether we know what we really want to do or not no longer matters. We need to earn a living as we’re swallowed by the flow of daily life.

    Along the way, serendipity might hit us or it might not; you can’t rely on it, you need to be in control.

    Interrupting the flow

    The first step I took in order to regain control of my ambition and stop letting life drive me was a drastic one: I moved to Asia.

    Moving to Asia meant abandonning some relationships, closing a succesful consulting business, discarding many things I owned, embarking on an unclear path, but most importantly, interrupting the flow. I took a step back and started to understand what my “right” path should be.

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    I was away for 331 days, travelled 92,364 kms, worked, didn’t work, looked for work, started my own thing, closed my own thing and moved back with a newly gained perspective on what my life should be.

    I think its a huge step to know what you want. I know how things can steamroll and often, we have a hard time to take a step back, look at the big picture, analyze, realign and move forward. – Ex-colleague

    What you can do for yourself

    Through being busy, we often lose our ability to take strategic life-changing decisions. Without ever wanting it, we’re swallowed by the flow and a form of self-perpetuating status quo sets in.

    To reclaim control of your path, it’s essential to have time to think and know what it is you want to win in life; you need a plan.

    If you have one, make sure it’s loose enough to adapt when life changes on you. If you don’t, why not set up a series of experiments to help you proceed by elimination and identify what you no longer want in life.

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    To force a serendipitous outcome, you can try jobs you’ve never done, mingle with people that are nothing like you, restructure your life in a completely different way or be willing to listen to opportunities you would have never listened to before.

    The important thing is to realize that the best opportunities in life are not the short wins; they’re the opportunities that best match your long term vision and “right” path.

    Everyone’s on a path, but are you moving in the right direction? Are you on your “right” path?

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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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