Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut?
Life could be feeling somewhat stagnant this summer. You go to work, come home, spend time with family and friends, run errands, have Netflix nights, only to rinse and repeat.
Nothing feels exciting anymore, and you seem to have lost your passion for life.
What’s up with the slump?
Here are five things that will make you feel more alive and improve your lot in life.
1) Get out of your comfort zone
Not to sound too “woo-woo,” but if you’re living life on autopilot, you aren’t going to manifest anything new, challenging, and exciting into your energy field.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone can help you build your creativity, focus on your self-confidence, and learn more about yourself, according to mental health therapy site, The Guest House.
“You may also find that stepping outside your comfort zone enables you to grow and reach new goals.”
Start by doing small, seemingly insignificant things that are out of the ordinary. For instance, take a different route home than you usually do. Try out a new restaurant instead of your regular. Rather than falling back to reruns of Friends, try watching a documentary about a subject you would think you’d be interested in.
Start a new hobby: take that painting class you’ve always wanted to. Go to the movies by yourself.
You might surprise yourself. Starting small can snowball, and in time you’ll find that trying new and bigger things will start to become the norm.
2) See yourself as the hero of your story
The stories we tell ourselves are dangerous, says Lori Gottlieb.
“The way we narrate our lives shapes what they become”. The way we talk to ourselves has the power to really mess us up. But we can use the power of our stories to our advantage. If we can change our stories for the better, we can change our lives for the better too.”
Gottlieb says that a key element of emotional intelligence is self-awareness.
She says it’s important to reflect on the stories we’re telling ourselves and to challenge them.
“Are we really narrating the full picture? Is the way we’re telling our stories, the way that a friend or colleague would tell them?”
The thing is, when we’re hurt, lonely, or feeling down, we create all kinds of stories that can be distorted and seen through a narrow lens, says Gottlieb.
“Imagine yourself as the editor of your own story,” Gottlieb says: “You can let go of the one version of the story you’ve been telling yourself so that you can live your life, and not the story that you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”
Be the hero—not the victim—of your story. We do have a choice, Gottlieb emphasizes. “Whatever we choose to put on the page lives in our minds and shapes our realities.”
3) Listen to your gut
Perhaps you aren’t living your purpose, and that’s why things feel especially blah—because you don’t have any direction.
Here’s a personal story.
Years ago, I was feeling very stagnant in my job in education. I knew I was interested in writing, but I had never been published. Since my hours were being reduced at work, I thought about taking up something to do with self-development: a journalism course or yoga class were front of mind.
I remember looking up a particular journalism course but it didn’t feel right. It was more broadcast journalism (I was interested in newspapers and magazines) and it involved full-time hours. To top it off, I would have to commute 1.5 hours every day. I let go of the idea.
Some weeks later I was feeling restless, so I decided to go for the yoga class. I remembered a former co-worker recommending this amazing yoga studio on a certain street one town over. She said the instructor was fab and that I had to try it out.
I drove up and down that street probably six or seven times and couldn’t find the studio my old colleague had mentioned. The only one I kept coming across was a run-down house that had the sign Atlas Yoga in front but it wasn’t what she described. It couldn’t be that, I decided, and kept driving.
By the eighth time of going up and down that road I was getting tired and irritated. I was determined to take steps toward something since I had set time aside that day. And I had driven 40 minutes to get to this town. I needed to feel like I had accomplished something for my efforts. I headed back in the direction of the ugly house with the yoga sign.
When I tried the door, it was locked and I saw that inside the studio was dark. What a waste of time! Then my eye caught some words typed on a piece of paper in the window. It was for an “intuitive guiding session” and below was an email to book a session.
I was in need of direction in my life and even though this seemed a bit too “self-help” for my taste, something inside me told me to copy the email.
When I got home, I rattled off a quick email about wanting to book a session. I got a quick reply and a date was set.
A strange thing happened when I got to the studio. For one thing the “boutique” area of the studio had the book I had been trying to order for months but was discontinued (ironically the book was called a The Tenth Insight). Seemed like a sign that I was meant to be there.
During the session, the intuitive guidance coach said something straight away that caught me off guard. “You‘re not living up to your potential,” she said. I was a bit offended and have to admit I got a bit defensive. “Well, I’m planning to go into journalism,” I lied. I don’t know why I said that, it wasn’t really true, but there it was.
“That’s interesting,” she said. “My husband Paul will be teaching a freelance journalism night course at the university this fall. He’s regularly published in places like The Guardian, and Vanity Fair. You should talk to him about it.” She gave me Paul’s email.
Long story short, I took the course and it put me on the path to getting published, and today not only am I making a living from it, but my words have been featured in ELLE, British Vogue, Town & Country, The Globe and Mail, and other mainstream media outlets.
I didn’t end up enrolling in the yoga class, but I’m glad I never gave up on looking for that studio.
The moral of the story: Listen to your gut. It’s always there to guide you to your next adventure.
One more moral of the story: when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
4) It might sound cliché, but it’s true that travel can change your life
Travel junkie Zach Mason says that when you travel abroad, you get to experience a whole new way of life.
“Everything is new the moment you step off the plane,” he says. “It’s a new landscape, a foreign language, a different culture and new people. You’ll never be more exposed to new things. As a result, you’ll have to adapt to your new surroundings. This will broaden your perceptions and force you to become more open-minded.”
Mason recommends staying with a local host family abroad if you’re able to.
“By living alongside local people, you’ll witness culture in a way that you wouldn’t experience otherwise,” he continues. “They’ll introduce you to their traditions and expose you to life in their country. You’ll learn about their daily struggles, [and] the things that bring them joy. Your interactions and heightened understanding will give you a greater appreciation of the life you have, a new sense of wonder, and empathy for other people and cultures.”
But even if you don’t stay with a host family, there are still a plethora of teachable experiences that you can have.
You can find ways to converse with the locals backpackers as well as visitors from other countries.
The thing I personally love about travel is that it naturally makes you more courageous. There’s little to no self-consciousness after a while, you just go with the flow. You’re naturally in a good mood because you’re excited by your out-of-the-ordinary surroundings. You basically become so much more aligned with your best self.
If you feel that travel is out of your budget, we say where there’s a will there’s a way. Instead of dinners once a week, take the money you would spend on one dinner a month and put it towards a travel fund. Doing this alone could get you at least a plane ticket by the end of the year.
Get creative: sell things you don’t need or want. Use your tax refund if you can. Get one less haircut every six months. Don’t splurge on makeup. Rewear an old dress for a party instead of buying a new one. Before you know it, these things will add up.
Then discover a whole new destination and see a side of yourself you’ve never seen before.
5) Getting rid of clutter can make your life a whole lot better
I am pretty strict about keeping clutter at bay. For one thing, I cannot live and work in a space filled with too much stuff.
Secondly, I truly believe that to make space for new things in your life, you have to create that space—even physically.
I have a rule when it comes to clothing. If I haven’t worn it in a year, I seriously think about donating it. If I haven’t worn it in two years, I don’t even give myself the choice. Off to goodwill it goes.
Getting rid of things you don’t use: books, appliances, toys, chipped dishes, costume jewelry—can make your life better in a myriad of ways. Also keep corners clear and knick knacks to a minimum. Be ruthless with old paper bills, magazines, and junk mail—if you don’t require it, recycle or toss it.
Your mood will improve, you’ll have more energy, and new opportunities will flow your way.
The power of change is within you
You are the god (or goddess) of your reality and you have the power to change your life.
Even taking small steps towards your change can keep you motivated. It may even produce a domino effect.
Get excited and make the change.