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Postcards from over the edge

Postcards from over the edge

A few potentially useful thoughts about work and working life.

  1. When you’ve reached enlightenment, your boss will still be a jerk. The good news is that it won’t bother you any more. The secret of maintaining a calm mind is letting go of emotions and refusing to waste energy on fretting about whatever you can’t change. The world is an unsatisfactory place; your boss is an unsatisfactory person. Life is good.
  2. There are no acceptable excuses for your bad behavior. Not your dreadful childhood (most people were dreadful sometimes as children, even if their childhood was idyllic), your miserable relationships (miserable people give themselves more of them), the fact you have no money (maybe you did nothing to earn more, or wasted what you had), your frustrating job (you’re presumably too frustrated to do anything about changing it) or the pains in your neck (and the ones you give to others). Life sometimes sucks. Get over it. Don’t add to the mess.
  3. Reality keeps coming at you. There’s no “off” switch. All you can do is cope with it as best you can. Since you’re human, you’re fallible. There will be many times you mess up totally and many more you mess up a little. If you beat yourself up over each one of them, you’re going to be a continual hospital case. If you feel guilty whenever you screw up, you’ll end up a basket case too.
  4. No one can insult you without your permission. Whatever he or she says about you, it’s your emotions that make you feel bad. That, and going over and over the insult in your mind, imagining what you should have said (but didn’t think of until it was too late). Ignore them and insults will have no power over you.
  5. You can always be yourself. You don’t need to prove it. It’s impossible for you to be anyone else, however hard you try. Doing something just to prove your ability, courage, or anything else is merely showing off. Only doing something because it needs doing is the real thing.
  6. Whatever changes you have in mind, begin with yourself. Many people work diligently to change others, while leaving themselves untouched. If you succeed in making the other person better, it will only show up your own deficiencies in a harsher light.
  7. You won’t find meaning in your life by sitting and thinking about it. To create meaning, you have to take action with some purpose in mind. Locking a new car in the garage and thinking about driving it won’t put any miles on the clock. Thinking about what your life means is the same. You need to get a little mud on the wheels and a few dints in the bodywork. Later, when you look at them, you’ll recall what happened and what each one meant.
  8. If you aren’t satisfied with your life, change it. If you won’t change it, put up with it. There’s no middle way. Whatever you do, don’t keep telling us about it. We don’t want to know.
  9. Keep living until you die. Some people give up on life while they’re still alive. You can see they’ve done so, because they no longer do any of the things that show life is present. They don’t learn, they don’t change, they don’t develop, they don’t adapt. They may be alive physically, but they’re already dead in any sense that matters.
  10. There’s no such creature as a self-made person—unless she conceived and gave birth to herself, fed herself as a baby and a child, made her own clothes from cotton and wool she produced herself, taught herself, built her own house and car, and never needed to go to a doctor, a dentist, a pharmacy or a store. We’re all utterly dependent on one another. Gratitude seems more appropriate than egotistical fantasies.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life, and Working Potential, where you’ll learn about great ideas for self-development. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization

    , is now available at all good bookstores.
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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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