5 Steps to Break out of a Ho-Hum Routine
Shift from mediocre to sublime, everyday.
I was in a bit of a slump a few days ago. There was a break in my work, and I was catching up on routine things in life. It was nothing major, just the kind of thing we all experience from time to time. You might know this feeling –-- the day seemed like the previous day, and tomorrow didn’t look much different. Nothing was really wrong, but there just wasn’t much spark.
It was when I recognized I was dissatisfied that I started to ‘wake up’. I think the first step to moving forward starts by waking up. For me this time waking up meant acknowledging that something was not right --– I was not living the daily experience I wanted. My next step was to pull out my journal and start writing. Journaling is a powerful experience for me, it is always immediately at hand, allows me to really purge and bring up what is going on.
Once I had thrown down a couple pages of streaming consciousness, I found myself writing that it simply came down to choices. I could choose to be happy and enjoy the day or not. But that sounded a bit cliché. Something else needed to be tweaked.
I began looking at a list of words that I thought might help me. One of the words was enthusiastic, and don’'t you know that word jumped off the page at me. That’s what I needed! Enthusiasm. Out of curiosity I looked it up in a dictionary. I always find it interesting to look at the meaning of a word -– it helps me set the appropriate intention and often adds more depth to my experience. In general, enthusiasm entails activity or pursuit with lively or intense interest, and the antonym of enthusiasm is indifference.
It was crystal clear to me. I had been moving throughout the past few days asleep, rather indifferent to the tasks at hand. With just a little bit of mental effort, I found I could show more interest and enthusiasm in what I was doing. Just for good measure, I promised myself that I would also intentionally be joyous, grateful and present in my day.
That was three days ago. Would it interest you to know that since then, I have been surprised to find that the day is ending so soon --– time just flies; and that my husband commented (without any word or prompting from me) “Wow! We really had a good work day today.”?
If you find you are asleep, going through the motions, but not seeing the spark you want out of life, here are FIVE STEPS to help you move forward:
1. Wake Up: You do not have to know what you want to do differently, or dissect why something is the way it is. Just be willing to acknowledge the truth. It may be something as simple as "Something is not working here”.
2. Get Specific: Get a sheet of paper and answer the following:
What don't I like? Don’t filter this --- just write out what you don’t like about your current experience. Be honest with yourself.
What do I like? Again, just write down what you honestly feel. Describing what you like is very important. It is too easy to constantly think about that we do not like, and overlook what we do.
What is possible? Here’s where it really gets fun. Imagine what it would look like to have your perfect day, while doing the same things you need to attend to today. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, think of someone you really admire. How would they do these things? Write down in a paragraph or two what this looks like.
What am I willing to demonstrate in the way I am showing up? You may not be able to change the fact that the day is filled with ‘routine’ tasks. Regardless of what it is that you set out to do, the one thing you always have control over is how you mentally approach the effort, and how you demonstrate this choice in your actions. You can choose to be crabby or joyful, asleep or alert, indifferent or enthusiastic -- – the list goes on and on. Read through the paragraph you wrote in the “'What is possible'” step above. Let that inspire you to identify 4 or 5 key words that you are willing to demonstrate in your thoughts, words and actions throughout your day.
3. Make a promise to yourself: On a sticky note, 3x5 index card or however you keep your reminders, write down your promise to yourself. It might look something like, “Today I promise to be joyful, present, appreciative, and enthusiastic as I complete my daily routine."
4. Kick start your focus: On your reminder note, write down at least three things you are grateful for. This seemingly simple exercise helps kick start your thoughts toward the things you want, and away from the things you don’'t.
5. Stay awake: Carry your reminder note with you throughout the day. Look at it from time to time, and be present to the task at hand. Be enthusiastic -- show an interest in what you are doing and in those around you.
If you decide to try this, I would love to hear your experience. If you are like me, you will be delighted at the difference these steps can have on a routine, ho-hum day!