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.
Photo by: Guille