Sometimes, no matter how well life seems to be going, you get stuck in a rut. Much like a tire getting stuck in the mud, the more you press on the pedal, the deeper you get—stuck in the apathy, powerlessness and ickiness of a good ol’ fashioned rut.
It’s ok. It happens to the best of us!
So, what do you do now? How do you shift the gears to get unstuck?
Here are 10 challenges to get you pointed in another direction, revving your emotional engine, and hopefully on your way, to driving out of that rut.
1. Connect with someone that you haven’t spoken to in at least three years. It can be personal or professional (but if what ails you is personal, make it an old friend. If it’s a professional rut, make it a former colleague, mentor or someone whose work your respect). Talking to someone who knows you, but doesn’t have preconceived notions of where you are now in your life, helps give you a new perspective on why you’re in a rut in the first place.
2. Smile Challenge: My wife loves this game. She’ll smile at a stranger long enough to get a smile back. She’ll challenge herself to do it to every stranger she makes eye contact with for an entire day. It’s not as easy as it seems at first, but you will begin to realize that a simple smile can truly have residual effects on the rest of your day as well as the person receiving the smile.
3. Talk to a Stranger: I remember moving to New York City on my own and despite the array and density of people around me, it felt super lonely. No one made eye contact with each other, let alone talked to each other. You’d be surprised how people may be delighted to talk to you, if you engage them. A cab driver, doorman, fellow shopper, neighbor you’ve never spoken to before, whoever. Start with a simple “Hi! How’s your day going?” and see what happens. Again, much like the Smile Challenge, talking to a stranger can open you up to new experiences, no matter how small they are.
4. Play a Game: There’s a whole science out there about how video games can positively impact your brain function. Just listen to Jane McGonial, one of the leading gameficiation experts out there today.
5. Wake up an hour earlier: Set your alarm to wake up one hour earlier than normal. What you do with the extra hour is up to you—but make it something for you. An exercise class, early morning jog or something physical to get the blood flowing is ideal but if you can’t muster up the energy, plan for something different than the day before.
6. Take a social media hiatus: Get yourself out of the social media rabbit hole. Delete the apps from your phone for one entire week. Your friends will still be there arguing away about the latest Trump snafu or Kardashian bombshell—I promise.
7. Set goals for the day: Before you put your phone away for the night, take 5 minutes to give yourself 3-5 tasks you want to accomplish the next day. They can be challenges off this very list or on your own growing to-do list. Make them things that you’ve been putting off or delaying.
8. Say No… to one thing that you would have said yes to out of obligation or politeness. No excuses or lies either, just say, “I’m sorry. No.”
9. Say Yes… to one thing that you haven’t done because you’ve made an excuse not to.
10. Be Kind To Yourself: We can be our own worst enemies, especially when you’re in a rut. Remember to be kind to yourself. And take heed in the old adage, “This too shall pass.”
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