They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Has your car ever got stuck in boggy ground? It’s happened to me a few times, mostly in Costa Rica, which boasts some of the worst roads in the world.
Once we got lost and ended up driving down a narrow, muddy lane with no room to turn round. The track eventually petered out into a muddy succession of deep pot-holes which sucked our 4WD up hungrily.
When your car gets stuck it’s not a pretty sight. The wheels spin hopelessly sending mud flying all over the vehicle and splattering anyone who’s trying to push you out.
So you put your foot down harder, but the more you rev the engines, the deeper your wheels sink into the mud. Finally you realise you’re not getting anywhere with that approach. It’s time to try something new.
What’s the best way to get unstuck?
Sometimes life can feel as if you’re spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. Often, the more you do, the less progress you seem to be making. That’s when you need to find ways to shake up your life, get out of that rut and back on the road to fulfillment.
If your car gets stuck I recommend calling a friend with a big 4wd, a tow bar and a strong rope to help pull you out and get you motoring free again. I hope this post will provide you with the psychological equivalent.
Are you ready to get out of your comfort zone and take a few risks?
Try some of these ways to shake up your life and to give yourself a new lease of life.
1. Move abroad
Moving overseas is the ultimate way to get out of a rut. Travel gives you time and space to evaluate your life so far and start making plans for the next stage.
When you travel, or go somewhere you’ve never been before, you open your life up to new cultures, new food, new places, new experiences, new people and new ways of communicating.
If you’re not ready to move abroad, or you don’t want to, get the same benefits by busting out of your routine. Here are a few routine-breaking ideas but the possibilities are endless:
- Wear something you don’t usually wear.
- Try a different sandwich filling for lunch, be creative.
- Sit with someone you’ve never sat with before or head outside and find a quiet spot to enjoy your meal alone.
- Go vegetarian or raw food for a day.
- Break with tradition these holidays. Forget how you usually spend those special holidays or birthdays and do something different.
2. Quit your job and follow your dream
Or stay put for a while longer but think about how you’ll go about getting closer to your dream. Do you need to start researching your chosen field? Checking out the competition or lack of it? Or maybe you need to study or volunteer first to get new skills or qualifications that will allow you to make the change.
I read somewhere that most people have 3 separate careers in their lives. It makes sense to me. Who wants to stick in the same job for 40 or 50 years? To be fulfilled and happy you need to constantly reinvent yourself and set yourself new challenges.
3. Give fear the finger
Accept that your ideas will probably be rejected and that some people will scoff at you but don’t let fear hold you back from doing what you want to do.
Embrace fear. Look forward to taking on a new challenge and mastering your nerves. Set yourself a challenge and arrange to do something that scares you today.
What makes your palms go clammy and your heart skip a beat? Whatever your personal fears are, tackle them before they get bigger. Choose something small to begin with: go skinny dipping, join toastmasters, go to the dentist or shave your head. Whatever is is, just do it.
Tackling the small fears one by one will show you that they’re not life-threatening. It’ll prove you can do stuff that scares you and survive. It will pave the way for the big scary stuff.
4. Just do it
Stop procrastinating. Promise yourself that you’re going to get started and put it in writing. Work out a realistic timescale and stick to your deadlines.
No matter how big or small your dreams are, you’re not going to feel totally happy until you’ve at least tried to achieve them. Don’t end up regretting doing the things you care about because you were too scared or didn’t make time for them.
5. Love Yourself
Decide to do the right thing for yourself. Choose health and life. Reject unhealthy habits. You know what they are. Put yourself first and don’t be a victim. It’s okay to be selfish.
Make an effort to get to know what you want in life. Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and accept yourself the way you are.
Spend a day alone, writing, reading, thinking or drawing. Stay in bed all day if you feel like it, or organize to not speak to anyone for 24 hrs.
Try getting a stack of magazines and using them as a tool to get in touch with yourself. Cut out pictures, words or quotations that talk to you and stick them all on one giant sheet of paper to see what comes up.
Or spend a day reminiscing about your childhood by looking through old photo albums, then do some of the things you used to love as a kid but haven’t done for a while, like skipping, rollerskating or horse-riding.
7. Keep trying
You may have already made the first steps to changing your life but faltered or even given up completely.
Be like those people you read about who are on their 6th marriage. Just as they’re optimistic that they’ll find true love in the end, believe that you will find what you’re looking for eventually. Even if you don’t know what it is yet. But you have to keep trying.
8. Make new friends
Friends can be found in all kinds of unexpected places. At the library, in the park, outside your kid’s classroom or right next door. Heck, some of us are even unashamedly making connections and friends on the Internet these days.
Some people think they don’t need any more friends. They think they’ve got enough, or they think you don’t look like their type. That’s sad. The more friends you have the wider your experience of life will be, especially if you cultivate a broad mix of friends.
Even if you don’t want to make friends, be friendly. Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally talk to.
9. Do something you’ve never done before
Say yes to everything for a day and see where it leads you. Try something you’ve never tried before but have always been meaning to. Bikram yoga? Quinoa? Taking a sickie and spending the afternoon in a bowling alley with a new friend?
10. Stop wasting your time
Stop watching TV, reading, surfing the internet, shopping, cleaning. There, now what are you going to do?
The Wisdom of Andy Warhol
He wasn’t just a great artist. If you read the quote at the top you’ll see that Warhol knew a truth about life too.
There are no short cuts. If you want to shake up your life you’ve got to make the changes yourself. No one else can do it for you although other people can motivate and encourage you.
Understand that making changes won’t help you grow to be a better of more knowledgeable person. But it may help you start thinking about other life changes you’d like to make.
If you do try some of these ways to shake up your life you’ll see that:
- making changes doesn’t hurt you;
- doing scary stuff won’t kill you;
- challenging yourself boosts your confidence;
- mixing things up makes life more fun;
- shaking up your life will re-energize you.
Have you got any more ideas on ways we can shake up our lives? Have you ever done anything radical to get your life out of a rut?
Thanks for Reading
A warm welcome to all my new subscribers and welcome back to the old faithfuls – it’s great to connect with you. Many thanks also to Dan Bennett for use of the doggy shaking photo.
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