It’s the end of a long, grey winter. The blue skies erase my memory of rain and the sense of clouds on the top of my head.
Winter is finally making its exit.
There is a reason 2 million Canadians go to Cuba every year. Winter here is harsh. Even in Victoria, the Miami of Canada.
At the end of long dark days, the motivation to go out once I am cuddled warm at home plummets.
This winter I became keenly aware of how much of my daily life is routines. Maintenance. Taking care of my body, earning money, going and spending that money for things to take care of my body.
Round and round.
In the midst of all of that, I am working with people on finding work that gets them excited to get up in the morning. I wasn’t feeling very lively.
If I was only like my friend Sharon who plans a trip every 4 months so she always has something to inspired her.
If I was only a person who loved routines.
I was feeling some big disconnect between advocating for a life that matters but the dailyness of my life didn’t feel like it mattered much.
I started asking a question. Mostly to myself. How do I create a sense of excitement and purpose in the midst of having so many repetitive tasks in a given day?
Step out of the rut
My immediate answer was to change the routines. Change the breakfast menu, open the door with my other hand, take a different route to work.
Here’s my reasoning. What was key was creating some sort of change so I wasn’t on autopilot.
Have you ever felt like you are going through the motions and not really noticing what is going on? Have you ever looked up after spending time on Facebook and wondering where that hour went?
I am astonished at how quickly we form routines. Have you noticed when attending a two-day workshop that attendees go back to the same seat they chose on the first day?
There is a lot comforting in the familiar.
The rub is that familiarity is also deadening.
I see how easily it is to be caught in a job that sucks. It happens while one day is unfolding into another. Rinse and repeat.
We get comfortable with the predictability of tasks.
To make a change on out of a job that is comfortable requires a good momentum. I see it as what happens when we are on a swing. It takes a lot of energy to get moving. If someone comes along and gives us a good push, that gets things going in towards where we want to be.
Often it is a big event that gets us into the momentum.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can lead a life of choice. How do you get out of the automatic responses?
The magic of slowing down
Some of moving out of autopilot for me was nature grabbing my attention. We had a late snowfall which was such a novelty. I was captivated by how my world had suddenly changed. The snow hugged trees. I had to pay extra attention as I drove (without winter tires).
I was curious too about the cherry blossoms and what they would say if they could talk. (“What the heck?”)
Life slowed down. Naturally.
While I was noticing the world around me, I started noticing what was happening inside too. The gift of winter is reflection.
I started taking stock of how I was spending my time but more precisely how I wanted to spend my time.
Often when we want to solve a problem such as work that is no longer serving us, we comb the job ads or university programs. We are ready to gallop. When what we need to is slow down.
When all of our senses tell us to get moving, the real answer is in doing the opposite.
Going back to the basics
The clues are all inside of us.
When I was developing the curriculum for Finding Work That Matters, one of the premises that formed the basis of the program was this question:
What if I paid attention to what makes me feel alive and do more of that?
To do that, I needed the space and time to listen.
It was imperative that I listen to myself. Not to those voices inside of me that were telling me that I needed to do more.
I needed to listen to what was calling me.
When I started paying attention to what makes me feel alive, I saw immediately why my routines were overwhelming me. I like to start new things. I love playing with ideas. And I love doing that with other people.
I started checking out some new books that had crossed my path that I didn’t think I had time to read. I found some cool Meetups. There are some interesting ideas that I look forward to sharing with you.
Over to you….
What do you do when you find yourself in a rut?
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