I talk to a lot of people who are in a rut. We all know the kind - you cry at the littlest things, you feel exhausted all the time, and the only thing getting you through the day is the prospect of a drink, your favorite TV show, and sweatpants.
Last week I had a potential client tell me she had gotten a few big pieces of disappointing news and didn’t feel ready to get back on the horse to make her career transition happen. She just felt shitty.
A few days later, another coach I know told me she was having a few days where she was actually considering closing up shop and shutting down her practice. Her stress and anxiety around making money and constantly selling her services was just too draining to deal with anymore.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those women, wishing there was something I could do to help alleviate the stress and magically solve their problems.
In some ways, the hardest part is getting the motivation and energy that doesn’t come from a place of fear, regret, worry, anxiety, stress, and sometimes even anger.
I wasn’t about to say, ‘oh just set a timer and work on things for 10 minutes a day to make progress and you’ll feel better,’ or, ‘have you thought about reaching out to your mentors?’ You have to meet people where they are.
I know from having been there myself that those tips aren’t really helpful. And sometimes I really do think you just have to wallow in the rough patch for a few weeks. (Beyond that is another story, but we all have a bad month every now and then.)
So instead of feeling like you have to put on a show and pretend you’re feeling great, what if you embrace the rut on the inside?
I came up with a few ideas that I thought might be actual, welcome suggestions for these two women I spoke with that might spark some positive feelings. They have nothing to do with helping your business or career transition, and everything to do with just feeling better about life and doing some self-care.
1. Get lost in a new crowd
Head to a coffee shop or restaurant you’ve never been to – new neighborhood, new shop, no familiar faces. Sometimes it feels refreshing to not know anyone at all – no one knows your story or your struggle. Blend in with the crowd and people watch like you’re a tourist.
Take a good book- one you know you’ll really love – and spend an hour or two getting lost in it. Order a drink you don’t normally get and mix it up.
It’s not gonna feel like you’re in a Parisian café, but it might be fun for an afternoon! Low pressure, easy to do, and a great way to pass the time.
2. Do some learning
If you’re someone who really enjoys learning new things, put some energy into it for a day.
Take a look at the museums near you and see what exhibits interest you. Take a whole afternoon and spend some time with yourself or a friend getting lost in art, history, design, or culture – whatever kind of museum it is.
Need some ideas? Use TripAdvisor to see what tourists think are the top museums and attractions in your area. You might uncover some places you didn’t know about.
There's nothing like perspective to help with being in a rut.
3. Book a quick & easy getaway
This past weekend, my husband and I booked a last minute weekend trip to Philly, just a few hours from our home in Brooklyn. It was 25 degrees the whole weekend but it was fun to get outta town and do something different.
We splurged on a 4.5 star hotel on Hotwire for a great deal and treated ourselves to 48 hours of museums and food in Philly.
We scoped out a few good restaurants, made reservations, and made our own mini-getaway. Good for soul, marriage and mental health.
I know it sounds so cliché, but there is nothing like some good cardio and sweating to improve your mood. Yoga, spinning, running, biking – whatever it is. When I’m feeling particularly frustrated I look to kick boxing classes to get out some aggression.
If you’re a runner, pick a different route. Search for some new routes using this tool from MapMyRun or Runkeeper. See some different paths and just get lost in your head. Try not to get lost in thoughts of your career – think about what you’re going to make for dinner, think about what movies you want to see, think about what 5 things you’d take to Mars if you had to live there – anything that doesn't stress you out about your work!
5. Movies & Junk Food.
Grab your favorite movies, some brownies or cheez-its, booze, and maybe a friend who’s also in a rut. Throw a weekend movie marathon and get lost in some comfort food and stories you love.
If you want to really wallow in career woes, some good movies that are sure to make you smile include, The Devil Wears Prada, and one of my favorites - a hysterical 80’s comedy called The Secret of My Success, complete with amazing 80’s classic songs. Or watch a season or two of The Office and maybe you’ll be feeling better about your own office dysfunction.
And of course you can opt for movies that have nothing to do with careers. How about a 2017 Oscar winning movies marathon?!
6. Get your craft on.
A few weeks before Valentine’s day, my sister-in-law had some friends over for an afternoon of crafts – creating homemade cards.
She’s very crafty. I am not.
But wow… I’m not making this up when I say I felt so much less stressed after a few hours of cutting, pasting, glue gunning, glitter sprinkling, and coloring.
Don’t want to invest a whole bunch of time and money getting all the supplies? Start with a simple coloring book – they’re really popular with adults right now.
12 million adult coloring books were sold in 2015. Sales of colored penciled shot up over 300% in 2015 from previous years. Crayola even created a colored pencil line aimed specifically at adults. Research has long backed the therapeutic effects of art therapy, and it seems that more and more people are drawn to the anxiety-reducing and stress-alleviating effects of a simple activity that allows them to clear their minds and see a finished product of their work. Head to a Walmart, Michaels or Barnes and Nobel to pick one up.
7. Play that funky music.
The American Psychological Association reported a number of different studies that showed the effects of music and vibration on stress, pain, and symptoms from Parkinson’s or fibromyalgia.
In a fascinating group of studies (read about them here), researchers concluded that music soothes emergency room patients, children undergoing medical procedures, reduces stress and boosts people’s immune systems. One 2013 study even showed that the effects of listening to music reduced anxiety more than prescription drugs in people who were about to undergo surgery.
Whether you want to drown in Rufus Wainwright, or blast Michael Jackson and dance, pick your music and crank it up all over your house.
Don't want to dance alone?
A few months ago I went to Daybreaker. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s this crazy 7am dance party in cities all over the world. (I am not a morning person, but a fellow Pivot coach got me to get up at 5:45am a few months ago.)
No one there is thinking about their career or networking – it doesn’t matter your age or what your job title is.
You might not become a convert, but it’s hard not to feel better about the world and human nature when the sun comes up and you’ve started your day off with a 500+ person dance party.
So there you go!
Seven ideas for activities that might be just what you need if you’re stuck in a rut with your career, and are all about just enjoying life and embracing this stage you're in right now.