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Break Your Energy-Sucking Everyday Routines

I am the type of person that can easily get stuck in routines.

I don’t know why and it is not something that I try to do. Every now and then it dawns on me that I do a lot of things at the same time or in the same way every day. Drive the same way to work, eat lunch at the same time (usually eating mostly the same things), eat dinner at the same time, go to bed at the same time, etc.

Are you like me? Do you tend to get stuck in routines? It actually happens very easily when you are caught up in the work/life cycle. You know how it is- wake up, go to work, work all day, come home, eat dinner, relax, go to sleep… then repeat the whole thing the next day. Even your weekends can turn routine as you have to get all the things done then that you weren’t able to do during the week. It all doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity.

With escaping the ordinary, we tend to think of big events like quitting our jobs, traveling the world, hiking Mount Everest, skydiving, or whatever you can dream of. Those are all part of what we preach, but escaping the ordinary is also about the very ordinary things.

This means breaking your small routines. Drive a different route to work. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Try going to bed earlier (more sleep can’t hurt) or try going to bed later (remember when you used to be able to stay up nearly all night?). Try having an actual conversation with those people that you normally only say hi to in passing. Do your grocery shopping or laundry on a different day then you normally do.

Really, the point is just to mix things up. When you get into routines and do the same things all the time, you are going to get the same results. Try changing some of the small things in your life and see what happens. Escaping the ordinary isn’t always about the big dramatic stuff. It is also about changing those small everyday things in your life that keep you caught in the ordinary.

Photo by Colinthedog

Baby Steps

So I haven’t posted much after I made that really optimistic and grand sounding post a few months ago.  Part of the problem for me, like it is for Jay, is that I feel tremendous pressure to write something great, or at least interesting.  Well, my life hasn’t really been interesting as of late, and so I can’t really draw inspiration from that.  In fact, I’m pretty much in a rut.  I haven’t done much to advance my goals, and have just settled back into a routine.  I’m not very happy with this, and need to find a way to get myself back on the grind.  So in response to Jay’s challenge, I’m going to start by doing two things that will help me get back in the swing of things, and start working towards my goals.

The first thing I’m going to do is to start going to bed and waking up earlier.  Now this may not seem like a big deal, but I feel that is very important for me.  Currently, I work at evenings and nights, and when I get home, I eat dinner, watch some TV or read, and go to bed at around 3-4am, sometimes later.  The next day, I’ll wake up around noon and the day is practically over already.  I feel like there’s not enough time to write or work on anything important, so I just don’t do anything, and sit at the computer or go out for a little bit, until it is time to go back to work.  So my challenge is to start waking up during morning hours!  I’m setting the goal at going to bed at 1am the latest, and waking up no later than 9pm.  Baby steps.  I’ve been trying this schedule the past few days, and it’s not as easy as I thought. The snooze button is not my friend!  But, I have been getting up earlier, and generally feel more productive, so once I get into the habit of it, I should be an early bird in no time!

The second thing I’m going to do is to start eating healthier. This is something that Jay challenged himself to do as well.   I know a lot of times, I’ll feel lazy or just don’t know what to cook for dinner, so I’ll take the easy way out and just order out.  This is not a good thing.  We discussed that eating healthier and going out to eat less is not only good for our health, it’s also good for our wallet.  Plus, it’s always easier to eat healthier when you’ve got someone in the same boat as you, and who you know won’t be munching down on chips and cookies while you’re stuck with a carrot stick. We spend so much money eating out, and on unhealthy snacks, when instead we could be saving that money for more important things like travelling.  So I’m going to start looking up healthier recipes to cook and planning my meals in advance, so that I know what ingredients to buy and exactly what to make for dinner. I’m also cutting out the junk food and buying healthier snacks and more fruits and vegetables.  It’s a lot easier to eat healthy when you only have healthy food in your house.

So those are the two things I’m going to start doing to get out of this rut.  I think it’s going to boost my energy level, and in turn, increase my productivity.  Later on, I hope to be able to add more things to do that are a bit more ambitious, but for now, I’m just going to focus on these things one step at a time.  Baby steps.

The Challenge to Get Out of this Rut

I recently had a short correspondence with Robyn over on her blog Nomad Needles. On her site, she details her journey to live a more free, unconventional, and creative life. She writes some very motivating entries, especially the ones dealing with her goal to live a cleaner, minimalist lifestyle.

I was seeking some advice and she issued me a challenge- Come up with five ideas stuck in my head and pick two to focus on right now.

Well, I am going to accept the challenge. Especially because it reminded me of some advice I once heard in the past about getting out of a rut- focus on one or two things you can do right now, no matter how small. I think that lately C.C. and I have scared ourselves into non-action by focusing to much on the end result and how much we are going to have to do to get there.

So I created a list and picked two things that I think are the best goals to start with because I think they are natural places to start. These two things are writing and getting back into shape. I know these some generic so let me explain further.

Just Write

I need to start writing everyday, no matter what it is or what quality it is. For someone who has always enjoyed writing, I sure don’t write a whole lot. It is more of a perfectionist thing then a desire thing. I put a lot of pressure on what I write needing to be very good to the point that I end up scaring myself out of even trying. So I need to get back into the swing of just writing no matter what.

I am going to keep up with writing something, anything, every day. It doesn’t have to be great and it doesn’t ever have to ever see the light of day. It is just important to write, write, write. I will be using the site Don’t Break the Chain as a bit of visual positive reinforcement. If you are unfamiliar with it, the basic ideas is that you just check off a calendar each day after you completed your task so that you get a chain of days in a row going and to motivate you to not break that chain by not doing your task.

Get Back Into Shape

Since I have been stuck in a rut here I have fallen off my exercise and healthy eating. I really feel there is a strong mind/body connection and when I am not taking care of my body I can’t expect my mind to be the best that it can be.

I am going to get back into my exercise routine starting here at home, and eventually moving back to running again once the weather gets warmer here. I actually really enjoy the exercising and running and look forward to getting back into it.

Of course, these will just be the first steps in my journey, but I’ve realized that when you are in a rut you have to start somewhere. Yes, considering all the confidence and grand plans that we had to start with, it seems like I am starting way at the beginning. But, I guess I really am. When things aren’t working you really do have to get back to square one– and doing that and admitting it here is a big step for me.

I’m going to issue the same challenge to C.C. because she is stuck in much the same place. I look forward to seeing what her two ideas/goals will be.

Escaping the Ordinary is Actually Pretty Hard

It’s not easy. As some say, nothing that is worth it ever is easy. But I have to admit, this journey so far has been a bit of a struggle. The goal of the Ordinary Escape has been to get out there more and experience life. However, one thing is very clear– old habits die hard.

This is a tough post to write and maybe that is why we haven’t updated the site in a bit. There really hasn’t been much progress to report on. I think that moving to part time at work was a huge step, but unfortunately things seemed to have died there.

There was some effort at first , but slowly things just devolved into doing nothing. Productive time on my days outside of the “real job” quickly turned into “days off”. I saw that would be a possibility and wanted to strive hard to not let it happen, but it has. I realize that I am the type of person right now that this can happen to and even though I saw it coming I still let it happen.

But at the same time that is really the point of all of this. It is all part of trying to change. It takes time and you can’t really break old deep-seeded patterns overnight. If I were a super-motivated person who wasn’t stuck in a rut then I wouldn’t have started this journey and website in the first place. My wife and I noticed that we weren’t doing what we wanted, weren’t challenging ourselves, and weren’t living life as fully as we wanted. We had a lot of initial motivation that quickly wore away again after we sunk back into our comfort zones.

But I think that the important thing here is to recognize that it doesn’t have to be an instant change. I am beating myself up a bit right now that I have let the last few months squander without doing much, but it is still not too late to get started. Losing a few months is not the end of the world, but never getting started would be. We’ve put the wheels in motion, but we still need to steer this thing down the road.

I’m in a bit of a difficult spot right now, because I think still working for my old job but at part time hours has kept me stuck a bit. In theory it is great because I am earning money and still get to keep my benefits (most importantly health insurance). But I am still stuck in the same mindset/pattern, just for only half the time. I still have all of the stress; perhaps even more so now because I am trying to fit in 40 hours of work into 20.

I think there are a lot of contributing factors, and a lot of things that make this all difficult. If it were easy, then everyone would be trying to do something outside of the ordinary. But at the same time, I can’t let that stop me. I can’t keep talking a big game, but when push comes to shove doing nothing. At this step I think that we need to realize that if we are ever going to escape the ordinary it is going to take some real effort. You can have all the desire in the world, but if you don’t ever actually do anything then you are never going to get anywhere.