“The danger in playing a piece over and over again lies in getting stuck in a rut where you don’t ask questions anymore and you always play it the same way.” — Itzhak Perlman
We’ve all had those times in our careers when we’re stuck in a rut, or even might be losing ground. Days bleed into each other, customers’ faces start to blend and we feel like we’re simply going through the motions. Even if you’re still having successful months, life is too short and too precious to let pass by without noticing.
There’s a danger in becoming too satisfied with what we have and how we perform our day-to-day tasks. Sometimes we need a swift kick in our complacency to make our days feel new again. Here are some ways that can restore a sense of excitement to our day-to-day lives.
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Set Increasing, Trackable Goals — When you’re making good income and having success in your field, it’s easy to coast. What was good enough last month is good enough this month, and will be good enough next month. Even when we’re not doing great, there’s a comfort in going with what might be working “good enough.” Challenge yourself to do better. Break the repetitive cycle by setting goals to improve, and then tracking your results. This will force you to examine what you’ve been doing and make changes in both your habits and your mindset.
Ask for an Honest Assessment — If you’re working under a supervisor or owner, go to them and ask for their honest take on your performance. They have your best interest at heart, if only because you’re building their company and if you’re successful, they’ll be successful. If you are the boss, don’t be afraid to get feedback from your staff on how they believe things are going. Try to examine your company and your leadership style from their point of view and see where you could make improvements.
Give Yourself an Honest Assessment — One of the keys to personal growth and finding fulfillment is to be honest with yourself. Are there things you should be doing that you aren’t, simply because you don’t want to? Have you been coasting? Have you allowed bad habits in action or mindset to take root? Are you taking the path of least resistance because anything else is “too much trouble”? You’ll never grow if you don’t challenge yourself. Being honest with yourself is the first step toward breaking harmful patterns in your life.
Always Be Learning — There are so many ways available to us today to stretch ourselves and exercise our minds. Books, videos, magazines, podcasts, online classes and other materials are literally at your fingertips, and many are free or close to it. There’s so much, actually, that the challenge becomes finding those works that are effective, speak to you in some way and are worth your time and effort. Do some research and ask around to your friends, co-workers and team leaders for resources that have worked for them. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start looking for learning opportunities, but don’t be paralyzed by abundance. Find something and get started.
Walk it off, Run it off, Work it off — Don’t neglect your physical health; you’re only as effective as your body allows you to be. It’s easy to put off exercise as something you’ll do “one day.” Make it a priority. If that means getting up an hour earlier to get that uninterrupted time, do it. Not only will it help you dump that feeling of stress but, as you get in better shape, you’ll have greater energy and stamina to take on your day and make the changes you need to make. Don’t worry if you’re not in great shape. Check with your doctor before undertaking a fitness program, but just going for a walk when you haven’t been can make a big difference.
Hobbies/Interests — To be your best self, it’s important to be a well-rounded individual. If your life revolves around work and work alone, you’re not developing facets of your personality that will prove valuable not only to your effectiveness at work but also to enjoying your time here on Earth. Taking up a hobby, doing volunteer work and spending time with your family are ways to recharge your spirit, while giving you a better world view. Taking time to have fun and expand your mind reduces your chances of getting burned out.
The first steps to getting out of a rut is realizing you’re in one in the first place, and then taking action to pull yourself out. While it might take you out of your comfort zone initially, the journey and the results will be worth it.