There are times in life when you feel as though you’ve gone off course. Like Sisyphus, in Greek mythology, it’s as if your daily routine consists of pushing an immense stone up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again, over and over again. Wash, rinse, and repeat, this is your life. You are missing your zest.
Wondering what happened to your mojo. Feeling a little less than shiny. How did this happen? You had big dreams. You had a plan. It was all going so well, until it wasn’t. You’re fed up; it’s time to make a change! But you’re stuck, so you sigh, put your shoulder to the rock and start pushing uphill again.
What can you do when you’re fed up?
Here’s the differentiator, Sisyphus didn’t question his destiny, he rolled the rock because he believed it was his fate. It isn’t yours. Ironically, we are pretty good at creating a life exactly like what we don’t want.
However, it is just as possible, to re-create that life. To zero in on exactly what you want, give up the daily rock rolling and start anew with healthy striving. With the simple act of questioning your daily routines you begin to change your journey. You open up possibilities. You step back into being the author of your life, give up the daily drudgery and regain your zest and vitality.
Here is the beautiful part of this plan, when you are fed up with the path your life has taken the way out isn’t a dramatic exit, an abandonment of all that you’ve worked for along the way, or a courageous leap out of what feels like a safe routine. In fact, the first step to charting a new course is to stop, rest and play.
As Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, writes, “no solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of the problem.” Change your energy by disrupting your daily routines to remind yourself that you can. For at least four days, give yourself permission to rest and play in micro moments throughout the day.
Fill those moments with activities that feel restful to heart and mind, playful and creative. These “distractions” will bump you out of the rut you’re in and creative possibilities for your future will start showing up. Reclaim hope, optimism and future mindedness.
On the fifth day it’s time to chart your course. Put pen to paper (this part is important because writing organizes your thoughts and focuses your energy) and write down the following:
1. Feeling State Goals
- Three adjectives that describe how you have been feeling lately. Challenge yourself to distinguish between a thought and a feeling state. “My boss doesn’t value me,” is a thought. Feeling worthless may be the feeling that goes along with that thought.
- Now, think forward one year and imagine you are looking back. Use three adjectives to describe how you would like to be feeling, more often than not, in the coming year.
You’ve just described your feeling state goals, an absolutely critical, and often overlooked, step to creating the life you want. Somewhere along the way we got in the habit of teaching, encouraging and modeling the pursuit of achievement related goals without regard to whether the successful accomplishment of those goals make us feel the way we want to feel. This is the classic story of the Hollywood star catapulted to fame only to still find themselves questioning whether or not they belong on a stage or the big screen.
The pro athlete who consistently “wins” but feels lost off the field, court or course. The successful executive who climbs the corporate ladder only to find themselves with a big bank account, an empty heart and a greater sense of vulnerability than ever before. The successful ____(fill in the blank)____ who one day realizes that they are leading the life their parents wanted for them, but not the one they desire.
This is a miscalculation based on the belief that achieving a particular goal will automatically translate into a desired feeling state: “when I achieve ________________, I will feel valued, safe, confident, loved, successful, etc.” By flipping this process around, and beginning with the feeling states you desire, you effectively reverse engineer your way into positive achievements.
That is, achievements related to goals that are directly correlated to what you want, rather than what you think you should want (as a side note, if you take anything from this article put this reminder on a Post-it® “Don’t should on yourself” and stick it on your bathroom mirror).
Aligning your efforts with your desired feeling states will tap into a new energy source because you won’t be spending all of that energy on making yourself do things you don’t want to do.
2. What to Take With You
Next, make a list of what you know to be true about yourself, that you know with conviction, you want to continue. Be as specific as you can, the clearer and more accurate the better. Notice that your list can include things that seem contradictory to each other. A golden rule to getting unstuck is moving from an “either/or” mindset to a “yes/and” mindset.
This list could sound something like this:
- I love my dog.
- I enjoy spending some time outside every day.
- I love to fish and my favorite place to do that is the open sea.
- I love to create a home and my favorite way to do that is to garden.
- I love to cook when I am entertaining.
- I like being with other people and I love my alone time.
- I love spending time with my children and my work.
- I need natural light to feel happy.
The list you’ve just created is a list of your passions – made up of your values and strengths. No matter what changes in your future you want these to stay the same.
3. What you want. Keep it simple.
Set your intentions by writing down what you know you want. Keep it simple; write down what you know to be true today. Don’t ask yourself to know these answers for all time. Close your eyes, check in, and ask yourself “What do I know, today, that I want to be true for myself?” Some might be no brainers and others might feel aspirational. If you have one that feels like “pie in the sky,” then ask yourself what a smaller, more realizable version of that idea could be.
Use these prompts to help you get clear: “In three years I want to…
- have….. “
List as many things as you can that you know to be true, and then move on to the things you “wish” could be true. These are your goals, your mile markers for your journey.
Feeling fed up is a message from your internal GPS that it is time to readjust your course. The very thing you believe you don’t have time for is exactly what you need to get unstuck.
Pausing, resting, playing are all recalibrations of the amazing guidance system that you already have within you. Tune in, give yourself permission to thaw old dreams and imagine up new ones. Focus on what you do want vs. what you don’t want and discover that by clear intentions and small, daily steps in alignment with those intentions, what you dream of becomes your daily reality.