Friday, August 24, 2012

In a Rut? - 10 Ways To Break Out

Vance Harner is quoted as saying “Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out.” Vance could not be any more accurate. Spending your days in a rut is mind numbing and mind dumbing. Your brain craves change, it craves new stimuli. This stimuli helps create new pathways in the brain, helps improve overall mood, and adds variety to keep you sharp.

Need some suggestions on breaking out of your rut? Here are 10 quick suggestions:

1. Take a new route to work or when running errands. Have you ever driven to or from work, arrived at your destination and realized that you do not remember part of the trip? You have followed the same route so often your brain is in autopilot. Change the route and you force your brain to pay attention.

2. Try new restaurants, or, at the very least, try something different on the menu. It’s easy to pick your old reliable restaurant or entree. You know what you are going to get and you know you are not going to be disappointed. But again your brain (and taste buds) can remain in autopilot. Shake things up and you’ll discover new flavor combinations and add to your list of favorites.

3. Attend a sporting event or the theatre. Live events require more attention. You are not sitting in your living room and you do not have control over the outcome. Your senses become more fully engaged when you are in the environment of the activity and not watching it on a screen.

4. Take on a new project at work. You need variety at the office/work site as well. Ask to get involved in something not necessarily in your normal range of duties. The novelty of the assignment helps get your mind fully engaged. Plus, you get bonus points for being a go-getter.

5. Travel. Even a long three-day weekend to a rented cabin changes your everyday routine and helps re-charge your batteries. Take a 12 month calendar and divide your vacation time equally. Every 90 to 120 days get way. You will enjoy the off time and the planning/anticipation also help to stimulate your mind.

6. Plan a Date Night. Weekly or monthly you and your significant other need time together as a couple. Take turns planning. The anticipation and the surprise of the evening will definitely lift you out of your rut.

7. Start/Expand a hobby. New skills engage your mind. Think about painting, gardening, cooking, woodworking, golf, fishing, etc., etc. Expanding the variety of activities you are involved in keep the synapses in your brain firing and strengthening.

8. Re-arrange your furniture. How long has your office or living room been the same? Move the furniture around. Change is good. And if after a few weeks you don’t like it – change it back.

9. Change seating/parking arrangements. Do you have a particular seat at the dining table? Sit in a different seat. A different position changes your view of the room. Do you park on the same side of the garage every day? Switch to the other side for a while. Try it tonight. You’ll be surprised on how “odd” it feels at first but that is just your brain becoming re-engaged. Change it up and your brain is forced to take notice.

10. Expand you social circle. New friends have lots to share with us, lots of new information to take in a process. It’s hard to stay in a rut when your brain is absorbing new information and learning all about these new people.

The goal is to get your brain dealing with a familiar subject/task/activity in a new way. When you change things up your brain is forced to take notice. You cannot operate on autopilot when dealing with a change or when learning something new. Change things up starting today and that narrow rut will become a wide expanse of super highway that can take you anywhere you want to go. 

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