The time is now to develop positive habits if you’ve been in a rut.
Welcome to a new year-a perfect time to reflect on the very life you’re living. Does it include contentment, fulfillment, meaningful relationships and the excitement of looking forward to what’s next? Or are you running from one appointment or activity to another faced with endless demands to respond to (thanks to our ever-present electronics)?
At the end of the day, does being home feel like more of the same: rushing from dinner to homework and laundry, and then finally some downtime with your partner (or not because you’re simply exhausted)? If your next day calls for doing it all again with a nagging feeling that makes you wonder, “Is this all there is?” then you’re in a full-blown rut. The good news is, once you’ve acknowledged you’ve been derailed, the possibility exists for you to break out of the rut. Here are some back-to-basics strategies to get back in the groove.
JUST SAY NO
Getting overextended can lead to feelings of resentment, anger and feeling utterly overwhelmed. Saying “yes” when you really mean “no” may make you look good but there is high price to pay. Over time, your energy resources get depleted, leaving you in the readed rut. To avoid the trap, agree to give a pat response when asked to commit your time, “I will check my calendar and get back to you.” This gives you time to do just that, determine how you really feel about the project and then proceed accordingly. You will be amazed at just how freeing this can be.
DO SOMETHING NEW
Doing the same things, even if they’re pretty amazing, can throw you into a rut. Make a list of things you’d like to try or things that you used to enjoy doing and make a goal to try to do something on the list each day, week or month.
DEVELOP A DAILY PRACTICE
Begin each morning with a few minutes of meditation, journal writing and setting an intention for how you will be that day. For instance, if you’re feeling stressed, set an intention to be gentle with yourself.
Or set an intention to do something that will take you out of your comfort zone. Let your journal writing guide your intention. The practice of living intentionally not only supports getting you back in your groove, but also promotes taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions—and that’s where your real power lies.
CONNECT WITH A PURPOSE
When you’re just cruising along, doing your thing, day in and day out without much thought, and feeling stuck, it’s a perfect time to check in on your purpose statement, your “why” you get up each day. Start by asking yourself: “In my old age, when I look back on my well-lived life, what will have mattered most?” From this response, you will begin to get in touch with your purpose or discover a new one. Then make a list of your gifts/strengths and how you’re using them. Explore how you can use them in a new way.
To discover more about your strengths and gain insight into yourself, take an “Authentic Happiness” questionnaire through the University of Pennsylvania. Consider attending a Purpose Workshop focused on an area you would like to explore more, strengthen and put focus on this year. A renewed sense of purpose will slide your life right back into the groove. These are offered though the Blue Zones Project, and I have been one of the facilitators for the local Blue Zones initiative.
VISUALIZE THE LIFE YOU WANT
Visualize a meaningful and well-lived life. Images guide your daily decisions and choices. Here’s how it works: When visualizing, you create neural connections in the brain equal to real-life actions. In other words, your brain does not distinguish what’s real or imagined. Science supports this through a multitude of research.
Consequently your brain, with the help of its reticular activating system, begins to focus on the things that will make an image a reality. A bit of caution here: The brain will make a negative image a reality, too, so keep those visions positive! End each day visualizing the life you want to live.
With a new year comes the opportunity for a new beginning. Use this time to take stock and take action. Apply these back-to-basics strategies to get back on sure footing and reclaim your groove! Expect to shift from rut to groove throughout your life. Recognize, acknowledge and welcome the rut. It is a powerful catalyst designed to move you forward into a life well-lived.
Kathy A. Feinstein, M.S., is a licensed mental health counselor and a certified consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Article originally published in the in the January 2016 issue of eBella Magazine. View the article here.