Feeling Stuck In A Rut This Holiday? Here's How To Get Inspired
You're feeling like shit. Everything you need to do is the last thing you want to do. And your inner voice? It's been spewing garbage ever since you woke up: "I can't, I'm not good enough, I'll never make it."
You're in a funk.
But just because you're in one doesn't mean you have to be—you can break that funk at will. You just need the right strategies first.
Know thy funk.
Funks are the opposite of inspiration. And when they hit, you can feel powerless—"What the f@#! just happened to my life?" you may scream in silence. But it's not a mystery: You're just not living inspired.
So, you can bemoan the funk and wait for it to pass of its own accord. You can fear the funk. Or, you can take massive action to break that funk.
1. Change it up.
We get into funks when we're stuck in a routine—even good routines get old eventually. My life, for example, is a series of success rituals. But if I don't spice them up, I'll fall into a funk just like anyone else. So I do things differently.
Sometimes I'll write my first article in bed (like I did with this one) instead of journaling, exercising, and meditating beforehand. Doing the same exercise makes me bored out of my gourd, so I find a new way to do the same thing, or I just do something completely different. But whenever something is stagnating, I don't just stop and do nothing. I do something different, or I find something of equal value to take its place.
So, when you feel the funk, look for different takes on the same thing. Switch up your schedule—wake up earlier or later. Take a cold shower instead of a hot one. Drink through a Krazy Straw. Drink absinthe through a Krazy Straw instead of sipping coffee…or not. You get the point.
2. Drink more water.
If you've been on a creative bender and suddenly find yourself in the doldrums, hydration could be your issue. Dehydration causes cognitive decline; it decreases your blood volume, and it slows your metabolism—all of which make you feel like a bag of poo.
So, drink water. Lots of it. And to prevent the funk, shoot for at least half your body weight in ounces every day. Or just carry around a gallon jug and try to polish it off by the end of the day.
You can amp up your hydration by adding slices of cucumber, ginger, and orange to your water, plus a pinch of sea salt.
3. Hang out with inspiring people.
Nothing will put you in a funk faster than sterile, complacent people. You become who you surround yourself with.
But it's hard to find inspiring people. You'll have to endure some alone time before you meet them. But, as the founding president of this country once said, "It's better to have no company than bad company."
So, think twice before you say yes to just anybody. Ask, "Will they lift me up? Will they inspire me to be better? Will they challenge me?" If not, take a pass and opt for someone or something better.
Until you find an inspiring group of friends, you have to inspire yourself (and become an inspiring friend). So listen to inspiring podcasts like the Tim Ferriss Show. Read inspiring books and articles. When in doubt, ask, "What would a more inspired person do?" Then do that.
4. Get moving.
Funks are mental standstills. And one of the quickest ways to overcome them is to get your body moving. Take advantage of the mind-body connection with a walk, yoga, pushups, burpees, pull-ups, juggling, sprints, a cold plunge, or a jog around the block.
Intense exercises have a more powerful funk-breaking effect; unfamiliar exercises even more so. Do something vigorously weird for the best results—like backward sprints, Spider-man pushups, cartwheels, or dancing. Shake that funk off and get on with your life. And be consistent about it. My seven-day-a-week exercise routine keeps me on my toes.
5. Read (and take notes).
Inspiration is the feeling you get when good ideas need to break out. Funks are the opposite. They happen when you let good ideas die or when you lose curiosity.
I've fallen into freakish funks just by being complacent with what I know. But as soon as I read a good article or two, after I take notes and riff on the good ideas, I'm back to where I want to be.
So, read a few articles on self-improvement or entrepreneurship. But don't just read—take notes. Synthesize the new information with your own angle. You'll be surprised at how fast the funk fades.
6. Do what makes you happy.
Funks can be miniature depressions. And, contrary to popular belief, depression isn't caused by a lack of Prozac—it happens when you stop doing what you love.
I'm passionate about my work. I love what I do. But if I don't take the time to play beach volleyball or ping-pong, hike, or play guitar, I'll lose the inspiration for my work.
When you start to feel funky, ask yourself this question: What have I not been doing that makes me happy? Then do it. Make time for fun.
The word meditation is stigmatized. It might make you think of spaced-out New Agers or Zen masters floating in full lotus. But that's not it. Meditation, simply enough, is directed attention.
When you find yourself in a rut, it's often because your subconscious is focused on uninspiring or disempowering conclusions. "I don't have enough, I'll never be enough, what good am I?" The only thing those thoughts will inspire is a serious funk.
But you can take control of your thoughts at any time.
Just set aside 5 to 10 minutes of time away from technology and distractions. Then sit or lie down and guide your thoughts as you see fit. Notice your breathing. Notice how your body feels.
Want to feel excited? Think about the exciting things you can do. Want to feel grateful and at peace? Think about the amazing people in your life, your accomplishments, the opportunities you have, the breath in your lungs, your talents, and your passions—feel gratitude for it all.
Then visualize the life you want to live: the bigger picture accomplishments, the job, the friendships, the car, the family, the cash, the enjoyment. Again, feel gratitude for these things.
After 5 to 10 minutes, you'll be on a completely different plane. You'll feel empowered, capable, and confident enough to do what you need to do and to feel good about doing it. You'll be inspired, and your funk will be gone.
Funks happen to everyone. But, as you focus more on living an inspired life, those doldrums tend to fade away. And when they do come around, you'll be armed with the tools to obliterate them. So practice these tips every day—make success rituals out of them—and live the life you want.