Have you ever just gotten lost in a mindless task? You know, like, surfing through countless (pointless) Yahoo articles, scrolling through Instagram until your thumb cramps, or Facebook stalking someone until you’re staring at a status they shared 6 years ago. Of course you’ve been there. We all have! Once you’re in the black hole of mindless behavior, it’s certainly hard to shake yourself from it.
But what if this mindless drifting has taken a larger hold in our lives in general? Not to say that we’re spending years on end on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, maybe you just feel that you have been on cruise control, going through the motions, for longer than you would have liked to.
I know that I have certainly felt this way before. You know, just feeling stuck. What I’ve learned over the last year or so, though, is that there is absolutely something you can do to get yourself unstuck. In fact, there’s MANY things that you can do to shake the monotony. It’s all about taking control of small things, and letting the reaction of those small things lead to big changes. You don’t have to move mountains to feel different, but there are plenty of minuscule things that you can proactively choose to do that can shake you from a “stuck” state. With that said, I made up a small list of some things that I began to do almost daily that over time have really shaped the past few months in such a positive way. Not to say that these are the best or only practices that can be implemented, but these have worked for me and I hope they work for you, too!
1. Crack Open A Book Or Two
I have never been on the pro-book or pro-reading side of this debate. It was a hassle in school, and a waste of my time as a young adult. As Christina and I got ready to go on our honeymoon, however, I decided to crack open a book to kill some time on the plane. I started reading the book a week or so before we departed to kind of “warm up”to the book before bringing it along for the ride. I then read the book from cover to cover before we even left. I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t put the book down. The book was The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. The best part about the book was that it included action steps that I could apply to my life and how my wife and I should spend our money correctly. I took the information that I read, put it to work, and we just recently paid Christina’s car off! The process of reading, gaining knowledge, then applying it became an addiction that I now indulge in almost every day. Since then I have read about 10 books, most of the personal growth variety, and have seen an amazing transformation in my outlook on life. I say all of this to also say that you don’t necessarily have to read personal growth or development books. Read something. Anything! It keeps your brain much more active and imaginative than parking it on the couch and watching 2 hours of Netflix (Disclaimer: we watch our fair share of Netflix around here, don’t get it twisted. I just make sure I get some reading in before we indulge).
P.S. Bill Gates has been said to read about 50 books a year. The guy is worth almost 80 billion dollars. Success leaves clues. Don’t ignore them, especially something as accessible as opening up a book.
And here is where all of the tough guys in the crowd scroll on by. Wait guys, wait! Listen, I get it. The image that you see when you hear the word “meditate” probably makes you uncomfortable. Seems a bit corny up front, doesn’t it? Sitting still with your eyes closed, just alone with your thoughts. I felt the same way. I didn’t think that there was much validity to spending 10-20 minutes a day just sitting quietly. But then I started to poke around the internet and saw that a lot of successful people do exactly that (33 Famous People Who Meditate). I thought “There must be something to it if people that are MUCH more successful than I am take the time to meditate. They’re busy people. If they can take 10 minutes, so can I.” So I gave it a shot. Luckily for us mere mortals, there are apps and YouTube tutorials that can ease you into the process. I use an app called Headspace for about 10 minute every morning. What I’ve found is that those 10 minutes of guided meditation in the morning truly clear up my brain as I begin my day. I’m no longer stressed about work or anything I need to get done after work. I come out of the meditation with such clarity that I can navigate the rest of my day with relative ease. It is absolutely a great investment of your time. If you approach it with an open mind and give it a chance, you will not regret it.
3. Make Your Health A Priority
Recently I read the book Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. The book was massive at over 500+ pages, but definitely worth every word, paragraph and page. Although there were many insights, one in particular that I found to be important was knowing the difference between health and fitness. As someone who grew up an athlete and avid gym goer, this struck me because I never thought they were much different. In reality, there are some stark differences worth noting. Someone can be physically fit, but have bad joints from heavy lifting or a lack of cardiovascular endurance due to a lack of aerobic (jogging, biking, etc.) exercise. Just because someone has a six pack or huge arms, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re healthy. To pursue health, we need to take a more well rounded approach. Aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise (quick burst training, HIIT, weight lifting, etc.) along with a well balanced diet (not too restrictive or indulgent) is what we should aim for. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be a daunting task to incorporate health into your daily routine. Thirty minutes or so of exercise along with eating a fairly balanced diet daily will begin to snowball into fantastic results if you can make it a consistent habit. Most people see diet and exercise as this massive lifestyle overhaul, but just make small changes that you can commit to and build on that. Don’t get caught up in the plan, take action sooner rather than later.
4. Try To Learn Something New Every Day
Think back to when you were in grade school, middle school, or high school. Every day you (should have) walked out of the building with at least one new thing in your brain. It could have been something big or small, but it was always something fresh. Unfortunately, once we threw our graduation cap in the air and called it a career in school, we all kind of stopped trying to learn. Maybe it was because we didn’t show up to a place everyday that had information coming at us for 8 hours straight, or maybe it’s because we all got lazy. Live your day curiously, ready to soak up new information, and inquire about things that pique your interest. I’ve found that the more information I have floating around in my brain, the better. I can solve problems in more ways than one, I can see issues more objectively since I have more information to pull from, and I am just generally less ignorant because I actively seek out new information. If you lay your head on your pillow at night and you can’t think of one thing that you learned that day, then reach for that phone, get on google and let the knowledge rain down. What could it hurt? It can’t, it will only will help to develop a more informed and understanding brain.
Why are these habits creating such change in me, and how can they do the same for you?
They are all activities or practices within my control. Some of us feel, as I have before, that we are lacking control of the direction of our lives. The days come and go and not much changes. There’s not enough time in the day to do the things that we want to do. By actively practicing these 4 things, I am no longer on cruise control. I am dictating the course of my day and the amount of growth I can create. It doesn’t take all that long either:
Reading: About 20-30 minutes a day
Meditation: 10-15 minutes a day
Exercise: 45-60 minutes a day
Learning Something New: 0-5 minutes (I mean, c’mon. Ask google a question and you’ll get your answer.)
At maximum that’s a little under 2 hours a day. That’s not bad at all. And again, that’s an absolute maximum. Doing minimum work in all 4 of these areas will barely make a dent in your day, but can create massive change over time. Have some fun with it, mix it up. Escape the mindless monotony that you’re accustomed to.
“You are the designer of your destiny. You are the author of your story.”
Do you have any habits or practices that you feel would be good additions to the list? Let me know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter and Instagram (@getpastmediocre)?