Do you ever feel like you're living the same day over and over again? Well, maybe not exactly the same day, but sorta, kinda, almost? Does it often seem like you're in the middle of some not-very-exciting story that continues to happen to you, around you and you?
Do you find yourself having the same conversations (arguments, screaming matches) about the same issues with the same people only to produce the same (or similar) less-than-desirable results? Do you regularly get motivated and then, not long after, de-motivated about the same goals? Are there times when you feel like you're frantically achieving nothing in particular?
A Giant Mouse on a Wheel
Have you made and broken so many promises (to yourself and others) that you're almost scared to make another one? Are there times when you feel like you're an unwilling passenger on a train that's being driven by someone else? Are you in a career that kind of meets your financial needs but fails to float your boat on a mental, emotional, social and / or creative level? Do you sometimes feel like a giant mouse running on the spot in a human-size mouse wheel?
Maybe something needs to change?
Life on Auto-Pilot
Do you get up most days and do what you did the day (week, month, year) before, not because you really want to or because you're excited about it, but because you believe that's what your situation requires? Or, maybe you do it because you're on auto-pilot and, on some level, part of you has given up. Throw your arms in the air. Submitted. Do you feel like you're really living, learning, growing and evolving or is it more like you're surviving? Enduring? Coping? On some level, do you have an awareness that one or more of your current relationships is toxic? Do you keep expecting that things will somehow work themselves out? And how's that going for you?
It's a Big Club
Yep, we all get busy. We all get distracted. We all get tired. We all get disheartened. We all lose our way from time to time. And we all fall into routines, patterns and habits that do not really align with who we want to be, what we want to achieve and what we extremely want for our lives. Sometimes we allow situations, circumstances and other people to get the better of us. Sometimes, we do it to ourselves. Sometimes we wake up and we're five years older but it seems like 2006 was yesterday. Sometimes we waste precious energy, talent and time. I've done it; you've done it. It's a typical part of the human experience.
The question is: how can we do better?
Fortunately, our past does not need to become our future. Fortunately our present does not need to become our future either. My question for you today is simple:
Is it time for you to hit the pause button?
Is it time for you to ask, "Can I do this better?" Am I running my life or is my life running me? Do I need to step back from this career, this situation, this relationship, this person, this habit or this pattern and gain some perspective? Some space? Some distance from my current reality?
Do I need to stop for a moment?
Yesterday (Sunday), I got up, made myself a cup of tea (English Breakfast, thanks for asking) and walked to my computer to start work on my Monday post. It's what I do every Sunday. It's my ritual. My process. I'm obliged (in my mind) to write a post every Sunday. It's part of my 'job'. After all, I have 45,000 subscribers and I've trained my readers to expect something in their in-box every Monday morning. How could I not write?
Appropriately, quite easily.
I sat there at my computer and my normally-creative brain felt like mush. Porridge. For thirty minutes I stared at the screen like a cyber-zombie and drew a big fat blank. Not a creative juice in sight. It was like a cerebral desert. The only thought to come into my mind was to eat food and lie on the couch. It seemed like a great idea. The only idea. My muscles ached. My body and brain were both exhausted. My well was empty. Saturday was a massive day for me: up at four-thirty, in bed at midnight, facilitating an all-day workshop in Queensland and then flying home. And that was after a busy week.
My Pause Button
Then I had an unusual thought: What if I do not write anything today? What if there is no Monday morning post? Would the world end? Would I get 45,000 complaints? Probably not. It appeared that my tired body, brain and spirit had hijacked my intentions. My ritual.
So, I chose to hit the pause button.
I chose to stop. To do nothing. For an entire day. Of course, there was some momentary guilt but like the good apprentice Buddhist that I am, I let it go. And what a glorious idea it was to step out of my routine, my ritual, my habit and my self-limiting belief. Yesterday, I watched more TV than I have in the last twelve months. I became one with the couch. I never do that. Ever. I switched my brain off at nine am yesterday and did not re-boot it until seven this morning. I took about fifty steps for the whole day. Last night I slept for ten hours. TEN! I woke up feeling fantastic. My brain cells were rejuvenated. In fact, they were clapping as I got out of bed. My enthusiasm and my creative juices had returned and my previously exhausted body was more than excited about hitting the gym this afternoon.
What a difference a little space (from my busy-ness and my routine) can make. Did make.
Sometimes, we do today what we did yesterday (last week, last year) simply because we do not ever consider doing something different. Sometimes, having that level of process and predictability is productive and positive; sometimes it's destructive and negative. Sometimes, we settle for mediocre when amazing is only a decision away. Sometimes, we think we have no options when the real limitation is our thinking. Our routine. Our self-created rut.
It might be our career. It might be a relationship. A habit. A routine. Or, it might be the way we're do 'life. We might need a minor pause (like mine on the couch) or we might need something more significant. We might need a big change or maybe a little tweak. Whatever the issue, the situation or the challenge, today I'm encouraging you to find your pause button. To stop doing for the sake of doing and to find the courage to step out of your habit, your pattern and your normal – even for a brief while.
As one of my mentors once told me:
"On the other side of fear is freedom."