Have you ever driven to the office and then, as you get your first cup of coffee for the day, can’t remember driving there? Did you stop at the traffic lights? Which ones? Did you kiss your partner goodbye?
Oops! We all do it! It’s so easy to turn on the ‘autopilot’ and do everyday things without any conscious thought. It’s also dangerous and mind-numbing! But, we all do it at some time or another. And the reason for it is quite simply that we’re stuck in a rut, doing the same boring things over and over again. Did you know a ‘rut’ is just a coffin with the sides knocked out? So here are some things you can do to change your every day activities which will get you out of the ‘thinking rut’ and switch on your brain.
1. Once or twice a week get out of the other side of the bed. If you sleep with a partner, swap sides of the bed every now and again. Or, if your bed is against a wall, turn around and sleep with your head at the other end of the bed occasionally. It will seem strange at first, but just try it. When you get out of the same side of the bed every day, you start each day in the same way. It means you’re in a rut and right at the start of the day you’re telling your brain to go onto ‘autopilot’. So, to switch off ‘autopilot’ and launch your day, try getting out of bed on the opposite side. You’ll be surprise at how this will change your thinking. You’ll switch on your brain and your whole day will be different. Try it a few times…. and see for yourself!
2. Once or twice a week clean your teeth holding the toothbrush in the other hand. Cleaning your teeth the same way every day means you turn off your brain and go onto ‘autopilot’. You’re making your day exactly the same as the one before … and the one before that. Dare to be different. It doesn’t matter if you brush your nose or your chin – just have some fun and switch on your brain. You’ll probably forget, so write a funny note and tape it to your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to use your other hand. You’ll notice that colors seem brighter, the air fresher and breakfast will smell fantastic – all because your brain is switched on.
3. Open your wardrobe and throw out all the stuff you don’t wear. You probably have racks and racks of clothes hanging in your cupboard that you haven’t even looked at, let alone actually worn, in yonks. You may figure you’re going to lose weight and fit back into them. Yeah! Right! Here’s a newsflash! If you haven’t worn them in the last twelve moths, you probably won’t ever wear them again. And, even if you could fit into them, you wouldn’t wear them because the color, the style, or the length will be wrong. Looking at clothes you don’t wear when you get dressed each day is depressing. It makes you are think of the past, instead of the present and the great things yet to come. Get out of that rut and start packing the clothes into boxes for charity. You’ll feel great when you give them away…and even better when you can find things in your cupboard. It will give you a sense of calmness and control in your life. Go get that box and get packing!
4. Every now and then, move the furniture around in your bedroom. What do you see when you open your eyes each morning? Is it a plant, a lamp, a picture? Do you even notice? If you see the same thing every morning, your brain will keep on hitting the Z-Z-Zs while you get up and get dressed. Snap your brain into action by giving it a surprise. Change the furniture around to make your room look fresh and interesting. Remember how it feels when you come home from a few weeks’ holiday? You notice the paint that’s peeling on the door, the rug that has a mark on it and the flowers that are blooming in the garden. You have ‘fresh eyes’. So, recreate that feeling of awareness by changing things around every now and then. It will lift your spirits and make your life fun.
5. Take that stuff you’re keeping ‘just in case’ and dump it. Go through your drawers, cupboards and look under the bed. Look for any written references, performance appraisals, letters from customers, awards, qualifications or anything that is relevant to use in your job application. Place these ‘secret sales tools’ in a safe place because you’ll need them when you write your application. But, throw out all the rubbish that you’ve kept ‘just in case you need it’. You know what I mean – Christmas cards from years ago, menus from the restaurant that has closed down, pre-used birthday wrapping paper, dozens of free pens that don’t work, artificial flowers covered in dust, cracked photo frames, and so on. Are you getting the picture? Take that drawer or box, and run (don’t walk) to the garbage bin before you are tempted to sneak it back inside. Say goodbye to the things in your life that you’ve been hanging on to and that have been holding you back. Dig your way out of that rut and make way for the exciting new things that are coming!
6. Take a different route when you go to work or the shops. Most people, still half asleep and waiting for the caffeine to kick in, stumble into their car and drive to the office on autopilot. They are contained in their own little air conditioned world inside the car, probably listening to the news on the radio or a CD and completely oblivious to the scenery, cyclists, pedestrians and anything else they pass. Their brain is working just enough to change stations. So, stop the rot! Drive a different route to get to work, or the shops, or when visiting a friend. Take notice of the houses you drive past, the trees on the side of the road, the people walking on the footpaths, and so on. Come alive! Live in the moment! See how the challenges of navigating a new route, unfamiliar driving conditions and changed surroundings really wake up your brain and shake you out of that rut!
7. Change what you listen to in the car. Most people start their day listening to the radio with its news of madness, murder and mayhem (since good news doesn’t sell). By the time you get to the office your brain is full of negative thoughts, just like it was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Try listening to something different … classical music radio, a motivational CD, an audio cassette novel or maybe, just maybe, the sounds of silence to enable your brain to kick into gear without the distractions of noise.
So there you have it! Seven simple ideas that can change the way you think and, perhaps, revitalize your thinking. Following is some feedback I received after including these ideas in a training course called: ‘Managing Change and Moving Forward’:
- When I slept on the opposite side of the bed, I had to climb over my wife to get out… and I was an hour late for work.
- I woke up in a rush and banged my knee on the bed – I forgot I’d moved the furniture around.
- I’ve met some great people since changing the way I travel to work … mainly because I keep getting lost and have to ask directions.
- I feel positive about getting a job and meeting other new challenges after surviving cleaning my teeth with the wrong hand.
- My partner thinks I’m mad, but at least we’ve had a few laughs.
- My kids think I’ve gone off the deep end – Here’s a tip! Don’t leave a note on the mirror to remind you which hand to use to clean your teeth! They’ll have you committed!
Good luck with your career change! DawnRichards
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