get-off-hamster-wheel

How To Get Off The Hamster Wheel


Don’t stay on the hamster wheel longer than you should.  Use the tricks I’ve used over the years to get yourself off the wheel and into a better you.

It’s a great time of year.  The new Madden comes out (yes I went to the midnight release), football is kicking off, the weather is still nice and I’m miserable.

All that I can think about is its almost September.  The summer is done – which means winter is coming and I hate the cold. The whole summer went by and I didn’t take any time off.  All I did was work every damn day, all damn day. 

Another summer wasted.  There are no fruits for my labor.

This was my inner monologue starting in mid-August, getting louder and louder in my own head as the month concluded.  Yea it’s hell in my head. 

I was in a rut; I had been on the hamster wheel for way too long.  My last full day off was the day before I left Greece in the very beginning of May.

get-off-hamster-wheel-man

I need to get off this ride now.

Call it what you want; seasonal depression, fear of missing out (or FOMO for the kids in the audience), being on the hamster wheel or just being in a rut.  It happens to us all and it sucks. 

I decided to take getting better into my own hands instead of letting time heal my thoughts.  Time heals slowly and I have a website to run.

So what does my end of summer psychosis have to do with health and fitness? 

Everything.

Without your thoughts in the right place you’re stuck in that negative place.  If you’re starting something new, focusing on the bad and why it sucks will only make you quit.  We need to focus on the good.

HOW YOU GOT ON THIS STUPID HAMSTER WHEEL

Like kicking an addiction, you first have to discover how you got on this awful ride in the first place. 

THE “WHAT YOU LOST” DELUSION

Hindsight is 20/20, but your picture you’re looking at could be distorted.  Focusing on what you gave up like time, money and effort and thinking you should have gotten a different outcome is a surefire way to get yourself stuck on the wheel.

PIPE DREAMS

Think running away will solve all your problems?  Or winning the lottery?  Truth is you’ll have the same problems in a different location.  And money only exacerbates your problems.  Like Biggie said “Mo money, mo problems.”

SO HOW DO I GET OFF THIS DAMN WHEEL? 

Like getting into shape, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Remember when you were a kid riding your bike through the woods and there would be certain paths you always took?  These paths were easier to navigate than trying to jump and dodge trees.  These paths are the ruts we get ourselves into as adults.  The same thing day in and day out leaving us with a clear path to boredom and eventual regret.

GET BETTER

Lie down on a comfy couch cause we are going to talk a little psychology. 

Looking back at different life events we often find different things we could have done to change the outcome.  This is counterfactual thinking (CT).  CT comes in 2 different flavors: upwards and downwards.  Downwards CT is not getting a job you interviewed for and saying “Well it could have been worse.  At least I got an interview.”  You’re not getting better.

Upwards CT would bring you to see that you didn’t go into details in the interview that really showed you knew what you were talking about.  Next time you add more detail and they give you the keys to the company.  You are getting better.

STOPPING THE WHEEL 

Saying to get out of your comfort zone and to get better is all well and good but it doesn’t help everyone.  Breaking it down further here are some actionable things you can do the next time you feel yourself in a rut.

TAKE A WALK

I take more walks now than I ever have before.  I use it to clear my head and refocus my thinking.  Steve Jobs used to do it when he was at the top so I figured what the hell.  It doesn’t have to be a long walk maybe to the bathroom or the cafeteria.  The main thing is to remove yourself from your work for a few minutes to refocus.  Most of my ideas hit me while I’m on a walk. 

Take Away: Take a walk to clear your head and refocus on the important stuff. 

GET UNSOLICITED ADVICE

Sometimes when you ask for advice, people tread lightly to not upset you – especially loved ones.  Sometimes you need some good old fashioned unsolicited advice to kick your rear end in gear. 

I told my best friend that I felt like I wasted the summer and hadn’t done anything in an email.  His response was simple but effective “there’s still time.  The weather is beautiful, take some time off.”  

Take Away: Get some unsolicited advice.  Most of the time it’s crap but sometimes it’s just what you need.

TALK IT OUT

Talk to someone about anything and everything except what sucks in your life.  Sometimes getting out of your own head is all you really need.

Take Away: Find someone to talk to and talk about anything and everything.

READ OR LISTEN

Reading is a great way to get new ideas or discover different ways of thinking.  Blogs, books, magazines – anything that will expand your mind a little.  Tabloids and other attention grabbers (The TMZ’ of the world) will only keep you in the same rut.

I’m also a huge fan of podcasts.  Listening to intelligent people talk is like crack for me. 

Here are a few or my recommendations that I love and recommend:

Seth Godin’s Blog

Tim Ferriss’ Blog or podcast

T-nation

Business and Biceps podcasts

Art of Manliness podcast

Smart Passive Income podcast

Awaken the Giant Within – Tony Robbins

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Take Away: Expand your mind by listening or reading other people’s thoughts.  You might like some better than your own.

GO EXERCISE

You know I had to go here.  Exercise has been shown to increase endorphins which help you concentration and feel mentally sharper than a Ginsu knife. Run, swim, lift weights or whatever else you have to do to get those endorphins flowing.  Maybe it’s just enough out of your comfort zone that you need to bounce back.

Take Away: Get some exercise.

TAKE A BREAK

I don’t do moderation well.  I tend to burn the candle at both ends more frequently than I should.  Sometimes a well-deserved break is all you need.  Take a day or 2 and focus on you.  The world isn’t going to implode because you took a day to yourself.  Go do something you enjoy and come back rested and ready to get back at it. 

When I felt myself slipping into regretful thoughts about the summer, I told my wife I wanted to do stuff on the weekend that we haven’t done before or recently.  So over the final couple of weeks we went whale watching in Cape Cod (where I had never been before), Six Flags and just hung out outside more to enjoy the beautiful weather.   

Take Away: Focus on you for 1-2 days.  The world will more than likely be the same when you get back.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Look around your world and appreciate everything that is has to offer.  Tell people around you thank you for doing something that benefits you.  I always thank my wife when she cooks because I didn’t have to do it.  Thank people at work and tell them how they positively influenced you in some way. 

Take Away:  Want to quickly make your world better?  Show gratitude towards the people in it.

FIND JOY IN THE LITTLE THINGS

Besides being an awesome wingman, my dog Taco has taught me to find joy in the little things.  Getting caught up in what this person is doing or what’s my next step gets stressful after a while. 

Taco would rather concern himself with walks, treats and belly rubs.  He doesn’t care what else is going on in the world as long as he can pee on some trees. 

Take Away: Focus on the little things that bring you happiness.

CHANGE YOUR SCENE

Working all day inside?  Try taking it outside.  Watch too much TV?  Go for a ride and enjoy the sun.  Sometimes a change of scenery is all you really need.

Take Away: Change the scenery for the aspect that is bothering you.

GO OUT HANGOVER STYLE

Sometimes there is no better cure for getting off the hamster wheel than to go balls out with some friends.  Rip up the scene like you used to when you were in college. It’s not the healthiest way to go about it but it will take your mind off your situation for a bit.  Just come back to reality the next day…or maybe the day after.

Take Away: Rip it up for one night. 

FIGHT

Join some form of combat training.  Combat training forces you to focus 100% on the here and now or else you get round-house kicked in the head.  Keeping your mind off the past or the future will remove the burden from the outside world.

Take Away: Find a local combat training facility and join.

HARD WORK WILL WORK WHEN NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK

Thanks to my parents pushing me into college I don’t have to be a professional ditch digger.  I work in an air conditioned office or my house behind a computer all day.  Needless to say, my life is pretty cushy.    When I start to take my work environment for granted, I’ll go shovel rocks in the heat.  There is no better appreciation for where you are when you throw yourself in the alternative. 

Take Away: Try living in the worst case scenario for a little while to better appreciate what you have.

Now that you know my tricks, comment below on what do you use to help you get off the hamster wheel?

Dave

If you know someone who could benefit from this article, please share it on Facebook or Twitter.  2 out of 3 people are obese today, let’s start a change.

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