I've been in a rut for too long. It happens to a lot of us,especially those of us who own a business or are in a profession which requires us to keep up to date on all the newest information relating to what we do. Teachers, health professionals, coaches, tech people…the list is long. But yesterday I shook myself out of it for 90 minutes, and the results were totally worth the initial trepidation, and hesitation about ‘wasting time’ on something superfluous.
So what was my rut and how did I shake things up? You’re probably going to laugh, but stay with me—my rut was not reading anything that doesn’t have to do with my business. Yes, I’ve built a business around my passion of helping people live healthier, happier lives. Yes, I have been reading (and will continue to read voraciously) about topics that relate to this for the sheer joy of learning more everyday. BUT— I also enjoy(ed) reading for pleasure. Reading science fiction, history, mysteries, and espionage novels. Unfortunately, like many folks I started to feel guilty if I was reading anything that wasn’t related to coaching, nutrition, health trends, business building, etc. Gradually I stopped reading anything just for pleasure. It had to have a higher purpose.
And then I saw a random notice about a literary meet up IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD, and the topic was one of my favorite plays. I swear it seemed like a SIGN! I mean, the discussion was walking distance from my house. I already have a copy of the play on the bookshelf. I can read it in a couple of hours (and of course I’ve read it before and have seen it performed several times, as well as watched the movie adaptation). This was a no brainer. I knew I needed to attend this event. I also know that I can talk myself out of doing almost anything. So I had to pull the trigger immediately or I’d find a hundred valid reasons to NOT go.
And guess what happened? I had a great time! I enjoyed re-reading a favorite piece of literature, I enjoyed thinking about it in an analytical way. I found myself happily anticipating discussing the play with other adults who also enjoy reading, and have intelligent things to say about what they read. For an hour and a half I was in a room taking part in a round-table discussion about something that had NOTHING to do with my business. And it was so refreshing!
Now, you might not be in the same rut I’ve been in. But I bet you have your very own long-trod, deeply grooved ruts. And you probably feel just as uncomfortable and guilty anytime you think about crawling up out of them. But I’m giving you an assignment—Shake it Up!
I came home from that discussion all excited to share what we had talked about. To be honest, my family is pretty tired of hearing me talk about healthy eating, exercise, and my various presentations on those topics. So they were (almost) as excited as I was to have a new topic of conversation. And a little break in my normal routine of health related articles and blogs, podcasts and documentaries, books and journals, allowed me to come back to my usual list of ‘must-reads’ with new eyes and new energy.
That’s why I’m telling you to Shake It Up! Just like a couple of weeks away from your desk, and normal environment can recharge you and make you better at your job, so can a mini-break or just trying a new thing have a refreshing effect. And it isn’t limited to work.
If you always go to the same exercise class, or do the same workout, or eat the same 10 things, or run the same route, do something new and different for a day! Swim instead of run, dance instead of hopping on the elliptical, have chicken for breakfast or a smoothie bowl for dinner, take a nap during your lunch hour, meditate, heck it could even be as simple as taking a long, relaxing bath at night instead of a super-quick shower in the morning. Shaking up your routine gives you a little breathing space and a different view. You can always go right back to doing things like you always do….but see if you can notice any different feelings before, during and after, your Alternative Activity/Approach.
Like I said, I was trepidatious about going to this discussion group. I’m not an English major, and I hadn’t had to analyze/discuss literature since my French Lit class in 2011. What if I didn’t have anything intelligent to add? What if everyone else thought I was stupid? What should I wear to make the right impression? Shouldn’t I be working harder on business related stuff, instead of ‘wasting’ time talking about an old play? Blah, Blah, Blah. You can always find a reason to keep doing the same-old same-old. But if you always do the same things, the same way, you’ll always get the same results…But is that what we really want?
I know that my hope is to keep improving myself. I don’t want to just stay where I am in any area of my life. I want to keep stretching for that next goal, that next achievement, that next bit of knowledge…and I suspect if you’re reading this then you want that that too!
Just in case you were wondering, the play we read and discussed was Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. And according to the mister, I looked like ‘a cool college professor’, while my daughter described me as looking like “the Divinations professor in Harry Potter” . Either way, I’ll take it.