post written by: Marc Chernoff

How To Save You From Yourself


Change Your Life

This guest post was written by Jacob Inman, author of Revive Your Life.

First we make our habits, then our habits make us.
-Charles C. Noble

It’s not unusual for intelligent people to get themselves stuck in a deep rut in life.  By rut, I mean a somewhat extended period of time flooded with low motivation, poor moods, negative thinking patterns, and little or no productivity.  A rut like this can be extremely difficult to get out of.  I’ve been there several times, so I know that rediscovering productivity and finding the motivation to delve into anything even remotely challenging can seem nearly impossible.  However, we must eventually come to our senses and realize that there’s no point in going through life feeling unmotivated, tired, stressed out, and unhealthy.  Misery is, after all, a choice.

Escaping the bounds of a deeply-grooved rut requires nothing more than some willpower, a good plan, and the resolve to take immediate action.  Most ruts are caused by a lack of self-care – for example, little to no exercise, sub-par nutrition, zero personal reflection, insufficient sleep, etc.  Significant transformation can, and will, occur in a relatively short period of time if you take action now and remain diligently focused on digging yourself out of the hole you’ve created.

One month – 30 days, should provide plenty of time for you to turn your life around.  Below are some helpful tips to get you started.  Make it your goal to gradually incorporate all of these tips into your life over the course of the next month.

  • Get Naked and Face Reality – Remove all of your clothing, weigh yourself, and then stand naked in front of a full-length mirror for 30 seconds.  Put your clothing back on and take the next two minutes to think about what you’ve just witnessed.  How do you feel?  Comfortable?  Disturbed?  Shocked?  If you felt anything other than comfortable, move on to the next step.
  • Take Out the Trash – While holding a large garbage bag, rummage through your refrigerator and kitchen pantry and throw away anything that lists ‘high fructose corn syrup’ as an ingredient.  While you’re at it, throw away items that contain ‘partially hydrogenated’ anything.  This would include most packaged and processed foods such as cookies, chips, crackers, sodas, etc.  Reward yourself by removing a single item from the bag that was the most difficult for you to throw away.  Take one bite and throw the rest back in the garbage bag.
  • Gather the Necessary Supplies – Now that you’re close to being out of food, grab a pencil and paper and begin making a new grocery list that includes the following items: oatmeal, eggs, chopped walnuts, fresh baby spinach, skinless chicken breasts, raw almonds, raisins, salmon fillets, whole wheat bread, canned tuna, unprocessed cheese, four vegetables of your choice, and three fruits of your choice.  Do your own research as to why I selected these foods, and find other foods to add to your grocery list for the same reasons (Hint: protein, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, whole grains, and vitamins).
  • Put the Bottle Down – Cut your alcohol consumption by 50 percent.  If you drink one glass of wine every night of the week, drink one glass every other night instead.  If you drink a case of beer each week, cut your consumption down to two six-packs.  If you drink one bottle of whiskey per week, buy a smaller bottle.  It’s hard to be motivated or productive when you’re constantly buzzed or hung-over.
  • Schedule a Long-Overdue Visit – When was the last time you saw your family physician?  Call your doctor and schedule a full physical examination.  Take every piece of advice that he or she gives you as the gospel and ask at least three specific questions related to your health.  Research any prescriptions that are written for you so that you understand what you are being asked to take and why.  This time, keep your clothes on while the nurse weighs you, and stay away from full-length mirrors.  ;-)
  • Stimulate Your Brain with New Insights – Buy or borrow two insightful personal development books that contain at least 150 pages each.  Here are some titles to consider:  The Power of Less, How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Power of Now.  Commit to finishing both books in 30 days by reading during your regularly scheduled television time.  By default, this will cut the time you watch television in half.  Better yet, engage in a “media fast” whereby you unplug the television and internet for an entire month.  Watch your productivity soar!
  • Fuel the Machine First – Make time to eat breakfast every day - it really doesn’t take that long.  Place one half heaping cup of oatmeal and one cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl.  Nuke it for two minutes.  Add a dash of cinnamon, a handful of raisins, a handful of chopped walnuts, and a touch maple syrup or honey.  Eat and get energized.
  • Re-Fuel with Premium More Often – Each day between breakfast, lunch and dinner, eat a handful of almonds and a piece of fruit.  These small nutritional snacks provide boosts of energy that will prevent you from slumping over your desk in a near-comatose state each afternoon.  The almonds provide a great source of magnesium, a necessary mineral proven to calm your nerves and reduce fatigue.
  • Renew and Reconnect – Plan an enjoyable night out with either a friend or your significant other at least twice this month.  Refrain from talking about yourself and instead ask questions that show your appreciation and interest in the person you’re with.  Also, expand your horizons by allowing your companion to select the location and entertainment for the night.  You just might learn something new.
  • Look Beyond Yourself – Pray or meditate once a day for at least five minutes.  If this seems to calm your mind, increase the time from five to ten minutes.
  • Expend Some Energy – Make a valid attempt to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine.  Spend 20 minutes, two times per week performing some type of enjoyable physical activity.  Take the stairs at the office instead of the elevator.  Take the dog for a walk.  Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending him an email.  Just get up and get moving!
  • Recharge Your Mind and Body – Get at least seven hours of quality sleep per night this month.  By following the other suggestions above, restful sleep should come naturally.  Sleep is one of the most powerful ways to rejuvenate the mind and body, increase creativity, and replenish lost energy.

After 30 days have passed, take time to reflect on how you feel physically, mentally, and spiritually.  It’s likely that your rut will be replaced with a well-paved path leading to better health and a stronger sense of well-being.

Remember, misery is a choice.  Your daily habits can be either a host for misery or a host for happiness and positive change.  The choice is yours to make.

Jacob Inman writes about the power of personal change and how to achieve it on his blog, Revive Your Life.

Photo by: Guille

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40 Comments

  • Wow, this was an intense post for me!

    Maybe because it hit so close to home! To be honest, I think this might be a little too much for me all at once. That’s why I’m going to go back to the first couple of points and just slowly commit to working through them.

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up some steam, build some momentum, and destroy the rest of them! Thanks for the motivation, jacob.

  • I would add: look back at old yearbook pictures or embarrasing videos. Too often, when we’re in a rut we’re so, so serious…and what we need to remember is to relax. Sometimes something as trivial as a stupid laugh can help snap us out of our funk.
    It can also remind us zits really do go away. ;)

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  • I love the title of the post… Saving yourself from you..

    Sometimes, unknowing we dig our own holes!

  • I’m a huge fan of 20 days challenge. What works for me is to just stick with no more than 1-2 challenges per month or I would end up procrastinating a lot.

  • I can personally attest to the fact that food plays such a major role in one’s life. Just by changing my diet I was able to lose 20 pounds, keep it off for over 4 years, and get a more positive outlook in life, all with very little exercise. Now that I have the food thing down (although there is still room for improvement), I am trying to incorporate a more regular exercise routine. All of it really is a major lifestyle change and it’s not easy.

    Food, exercise, and sleep, however, is really just the beginning. All health concerns aside, internal attitudes is a far bigger factor for fatigue and a lack of motivation. This is something that I’ve had to learn the hard way. And I’m still learning it.

  • I love this post! I’ve definitely had the pain and pleasure of having to save myself from myself. In reality, you’re only one who can seize control of your life and get yourself out of whatever rut you’re in. It’s not easy, but it IS possible. You’ve offered up some great advice here. Thank you! :)

  • Matthew Edwards
    July 27th, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Loved it! Thank you for sharing!

  • Marc and Angel,

    Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to guest post on your amazing blog. I hope your readers enjoy this post and are able to enhance and improve their lives because of it!

    Thanks again,
    Jacob Inman

  • @ Baker - You’ve said it just right…it’s all about building momentum and picking up steam along the way. Sprinkle as many of these ideas onto your life as you can over the next month and see where it takes you!

    @ brian papa - Good point. A little laughter goes a long way, especially when it reminds us to relax and let go a bit.

    @ Valerie M - Congrats on the positive changes you’ve been able to make! Changing the way we think about the situation we’re in is often the highest hurdle we have to cross. I’m with you as I’m still learning to master this task and assume it will be a lifelong process to do so.

    @Positively Present - I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and yes, it is ultimately up to us to pull ourselves out of such a rut. Sounds like you’ve had firsthand knowledge of this fact and have learned a great deal as a result!

  • @Jake: Thanks for sharing such an insightful guest article with us. Not only is the article inspiring, it’s extremely practical too. ;-)

    You’re more than welcome to come back and write for us anytime.

  • Excellent read… I enjoyed it :)

  • I’ve been planning on reading The Power of Now and How to Make Friends and Influence People for a while now, but I haven’t got around to it. It must be my procrastinating ways.

    Great advice Jake and I must say these are very insightful points. This will provide a much-needed wakeup call to a lot of people.

  • Very inspiring! The last couple days I’ve experienced an unusually low energy level and, after taking a quick inventory based on your list, I realized it all can be chalked up to lack of self-care (too many refined sweets, not enough exercise and too little sleep.) Today, I’m a girl on a mission, thanks to the rousing post!

  • Jake,

    Thanks for the post! I have read many articles on self improvement, but yours gave me the shock value I needed.

    Keep up the good work.

    Trey

  • Hey Jake -

    Great article! I guess it is now up to me to incorporate these ideas and changes into my daily routine…

    I especially liked the idea of a “media fast”. Too many times I come home from a long day and just turn the TV on (basically out of habit) and will end up wasting 2-3 hours watching TV and programs that I am really not that interested in. Thanks for the inspiring post.

  • This is a really motivating post. I think you’re so right that ruts begin with the step by step neglect of looking after ourselves. It’s so easy to miss out an exercise session, or cut back on sleep, or eat a little less healthily when you are under stress, but these small cutbacks snowball into wholesale disregard for yourself.

    I also love the idea of focussing on this for 30 days. It’s a finite time period but still allows enough time to really turn things around.

  • As an advocate of self-care and author of You Deserve The Royal Treatment, I truly loved this post.
    I agree - change starts with ourselves. There are many things we can do to start living royally, some of which don’t cost a thing.

    Thanks for spreading the good word.
    Stacey Joiner
    http://www.youdeservetheroyaltreatment.com

  • “Recharge Your Mind and Body” this point summarizes the wonderful post… I admire the to-the-point advice given here and the simplicity with which it is conveyed.. I also wrote a post on the same subject sometime back … below is the link:
    http://zencontrol.net/2009/06/fitness-simplified/

  • @ John - Those books are full of some really great information, you won’t be sorry you spent the time reading them once you’ve finished!

    @ Allan - I’ve been stuck in that trap before as well. Wasted time really adds up when you find yourself glued to the TV. I think you will really enjoy the increased productivity that results from a “media fast”.

    @ Kaizan - You’re right, the finite period is just enough time to prove to yourself that you can make a change and see some positive results.

    Again, a big “thanks” to Marc and Angel for allowing me to guest post and to all of your wonderful readers who have clicked through to Revive Your Life to see what we’re all about!

  • This is a great post. What works for me are the three basics…exercise, sleep, and meditation. I know if I do all three regularly, happiness, contentment, and energy usually follow. All the great tips you have listed here are fantastic! Thank you again!

    Dayne

  • Hey Jacob,

    All these works! Why do I know it works, because I had done some of these steps myself and lost some weight. I did a 30 days challenge and started exercising regularly and eat smarter and I end up with a healthier body with higher energy level through out the day.

    Cheers,
    Vincent

  • Couldn’t agree more with the last two — the difference that adequate sleep makes is definitely noticeable and plays a huge factor in my day!

  • Wow this is exactly what I needed right now. Thanks for that universe. :-)

  • Thanks for the tips. I had to shake my life up. I got tired of doing the same thing and being in the same place in life.

    Monotony was driving me crazy. So I had to change and I couldn’t wait for anyone or anything. Life’s short. Why be miserable?

  • I couldn’t have received this at any better time in my life. Monday morning(inbox) wake-up call! I’ve printed this and hung it on my wall.

    THANK YOU!

  • This list, although good, may only be managed by someone with great self awareness, not to mention motivation.

    Wouldn’t that sort of person not let things get this far to begin with?

    Just a thought.

  • @ Dayne - It really is all about the basics. We often overlook the most simple ways to take care of ourselves.

    @ Omar - Monotony is stress-producing for me too! I love a challenge and find that I am most content when I try something new.

    Jake

  • Beautiful! Thank you. May I suggest one more item for this list: “Be Grateful.” Look around you at all those things & especially those people in your life who add so much value & are a true blessing to/for you. Recognize those people & things as rare gifts: take a moment to BE GRATEFUL - express your gratitude, say “thank you” - even if you just whisper it to the Universe or to yourself… (Yes it is good to be grateful to yourself now ‘n’ then.) If you have a close companion or friend, take a few seconds to tell them: “Thank you for being my friend.” You will find gratitude to be a doorway to a special place in your own heart. Aldous Huxley said: “Gratitude IS heaven itself.” (So… thank you, again.)

  • I love this! Tweeting it ! EXCELLENT!

  • If, at the end of 30 days, you still feel sad or overwhelmed - go see your Doctor!

  • Yikes! This post hits home. I was delighted to discover that I am already doing some of these and still working on reworking my eating choices.

    A media fast from TV is easy enough, but get off the computer for a month?????? Gasp! Cough! Ergh! My family would be alarmed.

    Thank you so much for this list of powerful steps. Anyone who is truly ready to pull out of a rut will find the guidance they need right here.

  • I really enjoyed your article … I’m pretty much in a rut. Had a really difficult year … a lot of death in the family, a few friends and 2 family pets. And, I moved from California to Oregon. Finding it hard to find my creativity again … just can’t seem to focus for very long. Have a great diet, for the most part and I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Can you help with the protein part for a vegetarian? That’s always been the hardest part for me.
    Thanks again for the article … I found your site on Stumble and am glad I did.
    Elsa

  • Marc and Angel and Jacob, WOW! This was a fantastic article and I totally loved it. I’ve found myself a new blog to follow at revive your life too.

  • Sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night is very essential in being able to function well working. To much sleep become unnecessary and time wasted. So sleep 8 hours a night, eat healthy , balance out your day and repeat for success!

  • @ Mark - I think you’ve said it all…gratitude is a wonderful thing!

    @ Elsa - Keep working at it - you’ll find your way out of that rut you’re in…I’m not sure how strict of a vegetarian you are, but you can get a good amount of quality protein from seeds, nuts, beans, and whole grains. In addition, eggs, cheese, milk, or a high-quality whey protein powder are great sources of protein.

    @ Stephen - Thank for sharing your thoughts and deciding to check out RYL!

  • I’ve been stuck in a rut for the past year and a half. But I’ve been slowly getting out of it, and this blog post just made me realize I’m not the only one. Thank you. :)

  • I would add this: cut your coffee consumption in half (if not completely). It messes with your body (especially your GI tract, adrenal glands, and so on). It sucks to quit, but your body will thank you. You know that tired feeling when you think you need coffee? that’s your adrenal glands…not kicking in. Try it for one to two months (and eat healthy as recommended by this post).

  • Okay..I’m going to read this post every day for the next week. I NEED this.

  • Brilliant! I am always lecturing people about changing their mindset to help create some luck and change things for the better but I always forget the fact that we treat our bodies so badly and you have listed all the things we should do FIRST to help ourselves be physically and spiritually healthy and fit before we tackle anything else. Thanks for reminding me what my top priorities should be.
    Matt Kinsella
    Teenage Homeless Hostel To Successful Entrepreneur http://mattkinsella.com/blog-2

  • Awesome post!! I love it very much. Focus and stick to a 30 days challenge. I would follow it.

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