It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut in life. There are many daily challenges that can seem daunting and insurmountable that push our minds and bodies into a state of inactivity and loss of hope. These are the times we need to work on our goals the most and stay true to the course, but it is the absolute most hardest time as well. Be they financial, work, relationship, study, spiritual or physical troubles, it can be enough to bring down the best of us and push us into a mindset of despair. So what can be done? Well, there’s a lot actually. And the key focus of this article lies in suggesting the little things. After all, from little things, big things grow.
#1 Make small decisions.
Often when faced with struggles the first hurdle to overcome is indecision. It can be crippling. Sometimes indecision can be a decision in itself. It means “no”. We need to be mindful that we might actually be indecisive and that’s ok. It’s part of the process. What we can do though, is make regular small decisions. Sometimes a big problem is a series of small actions. Equally, a big decision is a series of small decisions. I’ll use a simple analogy. Let’s say you are trying to train for a marathon. Rather than fear and face the most daunting of training schedules, decide to commit to just four days of training and re-assess. Just four. See how it feels. No commitment. And then in four days if you feel good, make another decision to do it for four more. Or six more. You decide. But always give yourself options. Maybe after a few of these you will feel better about your bigger commitment or it might make you realise that is a different focus you should have. Either way, by making small decisions you are giving yourself more control over achievable things. And that’s the key. Achievable. But perhaps a more complex analogy is required. Let’s say you have financial challenges. These are the worst. Focus on what is in your control. See if there is one saving you can make every week. Some small sacrifice. Make a decision to improve that metric daily. Is it not buying coffee in the morning? Is it saying good bye to a weekly online movie rental. Remember, always a small decision, but stick to it and then make another decision. Make the decisions for things that are in your control. Over time, you can then start to feel confident about the small steps you are taking so you are in a better frame of mind to handle the bigger challenges. Hopefully the financial savings you are making will start to ease your stress as well.
#2 Do small actions.
This is almost the same as above, but it’s worth mentioning. Do something, anything. Just get some motion. Because motion leads to momentum and momentum will break your rut. I’m often deterred from running because the first mile outside my door is nothing but hills. I hate it. But from then it’s easy. So, I committed to just going that mile and then coming back. But I’ve found the more I go out for the short run, the easier it is to extend it because it then becomes flat. Furthermore, as I’ve progressed, 2 miles have become 4 miles and it’s not that hard. Had I tried to face up to 4 mile runs then I would not be interested, but by chasing the small daily activity it got me moving, which made me feel good about it and then finally, it got me doing longer distances. I’ve never been opposed to the longer distance, I just hated the thought of hitting a hill first up. Remember, do anything you can however small because something is better than nothing. You might even walk around the block, but just getting yourself moving (literally or figuratively) in a forward direction no matter how small will reap far greater rewards. Just do something. It is the simplest, yet most effective way and if you can’t face up to the things you think you should do, then make the activity even smaller. Seriously, make it tiny. It can always grow from there.
#3 Do something different.
This might seem hard, but let’s face it, a rut is usually associated with the “same old”. If that’s the case, then just do something differently. Anything it all. And following on from #1 and #2 above, make the decision and do an activity no matter how insignificant. Maybe it’s driving home the scenic route once a week, maybe it’s not watching tv one night, maybe it’s fasting one day a week, or one meal a week. Maybe it’s calling a different friend for a chat every Sunday night. Maybe it’s changing the layout of your lounge room or bedroom. Just do something different! Let me give you an example by shedding some more light on my miserable fitness “regime”. It certainly ebbs and flows, but one of the irregular activities I’ve done is “pull ups” along with some other exercises. Now I’d usually do eight or 10 and think, ok, if I can do this (and the other exercises) daily then I should be feeling pretty strong. But daily is a challenge that I simply don’t live up to. And then after reading an article about a Navy Seal that said whenever you think you’ve reached your limit, your probably only at 40% of your capacity, it got me thinking. This business of eight pull ups is quite pathetic and really isn’t doing much if I don’t do it every day. So I decided to do it differently. As of this week, I decided every time I go down to the high bar I’ll do two more pull ups than I did on the previous occasion. Suddenly, the situation changed dramatically for me. Suddenly, it got a lot harder. But rather than being routine, it became an insane challenge. I mean, when does it stop? And the beauty is, the longer I leave it between sessions, the tougher it will get. So I’m now at 20 and if I don’t get down tomorrow and do 22 then Monday is going to be unpleasant. A simple change has had a profound impact on my attitude, motivation and ultimately ability to lift myself (literally) to greater achievements.
I hope you can perhaps start to think about the little decisions and actions you can do to lift yourself up. And to make it easier, do them a little differently too. As always, all the best with your goal setting and achieving. Remember, a decision no matter how small is better than no decision and an action no matter how insignificant is better than no action. Good luck and go for it.