At one point or another in our lives, we all hit that rut. We get comfortable and cruise along, but then one day we start to feel restless and frustrated. Your days are on auto pilot. Relationships gets monotonous. You’re bored of your job. You hate Mondays. You dream of your escape but don’t really know what to do or how to do it. You scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed completely jealous of everyone else’s lives.
This state of tedious boredom and lack of motivation is a symptom of the perpetual, unrelenting disease of busy-ness. We compulsively fill our days with urgent and unimportant crap that gives us the perception that we have ‘no time.’ And it’s dangerous. This state, if left untouched and ignored is the reason why years roll past unknowingly, until one day you’re left feeling completely unfulfilled and never having ticked a single dream off your wish list.
Now that we have Netflix, social media and a bazillion other apps on our phones to keep us occupied literally every waking minute, it’s even easier to turn a blind eye to the reality of our lives. Instead of allowing ourselves the mental space to focus on dreaming big, setting goals and reflecting (you know, the things that are actually important for our happiness), we instead live vicariously through the fantasies of TV shows and celebrity drama, or scroll through our feeds and snapchat stories looking on enviously at our friends.
There’s no doubt that we all dream big. We all want to escape our own reality for something more fulfilling, new job, travel more, whatever it may be. The problem is we don’t give ourselves time to think… I mean, REALLY think! Having an off-the-cuff, half-baked idea that is never written down and followed up, is not going to change your life.
If you keep doing what you always did, then you will keep getting what you always got.
And I totally get it. Brainstorming your life plans is freakin’ hard! But if you truly, deep down want to get out of the monotony, the stress and the cycle of crap, you need to invest time and make YOU the priority. Here’s a few things that I found have really kicked my life plans up a gear:
Make a coffee date with yourself to plan your future: Few people will go to a cafe or the park with a notepad and post-its by themselves for an hour and brainstorm ideas, set goals, draw up plans about their future and how they are going to achieve this. I know the most frustrating thing is not having any idea about what you want to achieve. So the only thing you want to do is avoid facing it or even giving it a try.
I too found that I had no idea what to write when I first started. For the most part we don’t know what drives us, what makes us happy, what we want to be when we grow up (at any age)… and that’s the point of the exercise. There is no right or wrong, but by just writing it blows the cobwebs out of your brain and forces you to think about your life. It took me 6 months of scattered brainstorming before I started to figure out what I wanted!
Constructive journaling to rewire your brain: Recently I discovered journaling which up until a couple of weeks ago I had avoided like the plague. I couldn’t be bothered finding the time and I just couldn’t really see the true value. But my perception of journaling was completely upside down.
It’s not supposed to be a “Dear Diary, today I did blah blah” exercise. Instead use your journaling to write down your intentions for the day, mention things that you’re grateful for along with observations, inspiration and ideas. By changing the purpose of the journal from a downloading tool (for venting or negativity) you use it as an uploading tool (for motivation and personal growth). So instead of reinforcing the negative pathways in the brain, you’re instead creating new pathways for creativity and positivity. Picture your old thoughts as a well-entrenched river, while journaling is forging a new little stream that will one day, with consistency and perseverance, be its own established river.
Free writing to get those juices flowing – trust me, I KNOW what it feels like to get writers block and then stare at a blank white page for half an hour (then go to the kitchen and procrastinate with food to avoid facing it!) Sometimes my perfectionist mind takes over and I have to have the perfectly, well thought out plan written on a page first time around. Unfortunately life isn’t that simple.
I cannot stress how valuable I’ve found journaling, but sometimes we just need a little bit to help in thinking about our lives constructively. Cue free writing. Set the timer and either type or write whatever comes into your head. This is proverbial vomit on the page. It doesn’t need to make sense, it doesn’t need punctuation or paragraphs. Just get it all out of your system. Trust me, it feels GOOOOOD after that time’s up, like a burden’s been lifted off your shoulders.
Every now and then review your free writing from a completely subjective viewpoint and see what key themes and language you use, and if it’s positively or negatively charged. In time you’ll be able to see what mindset is holding you back or pushing you forward. I’ve also found that free writing before a blog post, journal or brainstorm session definitely gets the creative juices flowing, and then I can’t stop!
Now, I don’t want you guys to just read this and think it’s a nice idea and then get on with your day and forget you ever read this (I know I do that all the time). It’s one thing reading and half thinking about it, it’s another thing to actually DO something about it.
Set time aside and hold yourself accountable. Investing time in yourself costs nothing, but you have the potential to take back control and be the person you always fantasized being.