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I recently had a Skype conversation with a friend called Jake, who’s been working at the same company in NYC for several years. He hates it. “Every day feels monotonous,” he said to me while drinking a beer. “It’s like I’m getting on a hamster wheel, running, and then getting off once it’s time to go home.”
Maybe you’re like Jake and think your entire life is perfectly characterized by a tiny hamster wheel. Perhaps you feel like your life is monotonous and unfulfilling. Because no matter how much you try to make progress towards a better future, you end up making none. It sucks.
Look, I’m empathetic to the fact that change can be difficult. It isn’t easy. But once you step off the hamster wheel and escape the monotony of your daily routine, you could quickly find yourself living a much more fulfilling life than you ever imagined.
Here’s how to start.
Resist The Temptation Of Your Comfort Zone.
Do you have the same daily routine? Do you enjoy doing things that are familiar because you’re absolutely terrified of the unknown?
Maybe you’re like my former self. I used to be afraid of change and did whatever I could to maintain the status quo. You know that warm fuzzy feeling that we like to call our comfort zone? That was my bubble. And I refused to let anyone pop it.
Look, I’m not going to deny that comfort zones are cool. They give you a sense of hope when the rest of your life feels hopeless. They give you a feeling of certainty when the fate of our world feels uncertain. But sometimes, you need to pop your protective bubble by stepping off the hamster wheel and embracing your discomfort zone.
That’s right. I said it. Or, in this case, wrote it. To change your life, you first need to consider changing your actions. And that happens by embracing fear and being willing to do whatever it takes to create the life you desire. Roy T. Bennett said it best:
“We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”
I used to crave comfort. Every night, I’d wrap myself up under the duvet like a burrito. It was warm and comfortable. But when it was time to get up in the morning, it was often difficult to escape my comfortable cocoon and begin my day. So more often than not, I’d stay in bed for “just one more hour” and fail to accomplish my work for the day since I was always behind schedule.
It’s no secret that meaningful change rarely happens in your comfort zone. As Maggie Warrell writes in Forbes:
“In an increasingly competitive, cautious and accelerated world, those who are willing to take risks, step out of their comfort zone and into the discomfort of uncertainty will be those who will reap the biggest rewards.”
So if you want to get off the hamster wheel of life, consider doing something different. Face your fears, learn something new, or do anything else that helps you to escape the monotony of your daily routine. Small steps each day can create significant changes over time.
When Life Gives You Problems, Find Solutions.
Let’s do a quick mental exercise together. Take a few moments to imagine how awesome your life would be if you were able to solve every single one of your problems. Chances are, you’d be able to sleep a lot better at night. As Mark Manson writes in Quartz:
“Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is “solving.” If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable. If you feel like you have problems that you can’t solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable. The secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place.”
Let me tell you a story. I used to be terrible with money. I had a single mother and came from a working-class family in rural England. Sure, we had enough to get by. But that was it. So once I started making large amounts of money from my writing each month, I didn’t know what to do.
For a while, I made some stupid financial decisions. I often spent money I didn’t have on things I didn’t need. And within a short amount of time, my financial situation crumbled. It became difficult to sleep at night as I wondered how the hell I would make enough money to sustain myself.
But looking back, I’m genuinely grateful that I went through the experience of being terrible at managing my finances. Because once I hit rock bottom, the only direction that I could go was up.
So I started learning about personal finance, economics, investing, and other topics that would enable me to better manage my finances. And sure enough, the strategy worked. It felt great knowing that my problems weren’t going to last forever because every single day, I was making continual progress towards a better future.
Consider how you can solve a few problems to make a little bit of progress towards the type of life you want. For example, if you’re terrible at managing money, you could study personal finance on the internet for free during your spare time.
My friend, it’s important to remember that your problems don’t have to be permanent. As Barack Obama once said:
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”
He’s right. Because when you’re optimistic about your future and persevere in the face of adversity, you’ll eventually create the life you desire.
That’s the only thing that matters.