Like the classic Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, where weatherman Phil Connors lives the same day over and over again, sometimes we’re stuck in a rut and can’t seem to make that big change — start a new job, move to a new city, breakup and start over, and so on.
So since today is Groundhog Day (and Mercury is in retrograde until Feb. 11), we thought we’d share a few tips on how you can take charge of your life so you don’t feel like you’re re-living the same drab, winter day. This will come in especially handy for those of you experiencing the blizzard known as Juno in the New England area.
The stuck-in-a-rut feeling is actually really common this time of year, says Dr. Diane Robinson, neuropsychologist at UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health, because a lot of us are beginning to fall off the New Year’s resolutions bandwagon and feel discouraged.
“A lot of people started the year wanting to do things differently, and have high expectations,” Robinson says. “But then they start to realize they’re having trouble getting there, and by the end of January, early February, they’re back to where they were.”
Don’t give up on your goals just yet. Here, Dr. Robinson explains how to break free of your winter rut with a three-step process for creating a lasting change to jumpstart your life that will carry into the spring.
Step 1: Break your big goal into manageable pieces.
When you look outside the window all you see is endless snow. Maybe you’re even getting tired of the constant coat layering and snow shoveling. But just because it might be a bit drab outside doesn’t mean you have to carry that with you. For a lot of people, it becomes more difficult to get tasks done in the winter because they’re cold or feeling down. An easy way to jumpstart your life is to try breaking up some of those winter goals into manageable pieces.
“If you can’t do something right away, then the step is too big. If you’ve been a couch potato for a while, you’re not going to be able to run for an hour on the treadmill. Start with 15 minutes of walking,” Robinson says.
Plus, overwhelming tasks becoming a lot easier (and more fun) when you focus on only one small piece at a time. Make a checklist and work on just one thing for the week so you can check it off and have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the week. This will brighten your mood and make that large goal more realistic.
Step 2: Change your internal dialogue.
Another big roadblock to getting out of a winter rut is how you talk to yourself. Is your internal dialogue uplifting, or do you hear the voice of Debbie Downer?
“If you say things like, ‘That’s not possible’ in your head, or if you use words like ‘never,’ ‘can’t,’ or ‘should,’ you’re setting yourself up for failure,” says Robinson, who suggests that the word “should” be eradicated from your thoughts forever. “Ban it. It puts a rigid, often unrealistic, time-frame on things.”
Become a more realistic person to easily change your internal dialogue. Yes, it’s the winter and it’s cold and the first day of spring isn’t until March, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a jumpstart on life. Something might be a bit difficult to accomplish now, but know that you’ve completed it before and you can do it again. Reminding yourself of your past accomplishments will keep you from the Groundhog Day blues.
Step 3: Do it immediately. Don’t put it off, and don’t say you’ll start tomorrow.
We all want to see results. Like now. (Or preferable, like yesterday). Think about Hollywood starlets or pop stars who are branded with the “overnight sensation” label. In all actuality, they probably spent years toiling away behind the scenes, crawling their way to the top.
And some people get stuck in ruts and put off
change life because they know it’s going to take weeks or months to accomplish the results they want — and since the results aren’t going to happen overnight anyway, what’s another day?
Robinson, again, suggests doing one thing a day to reach your goal — and do it right when you have the thought if you can, or very soon afterward.
“If you’re at your job and realize you really do want to make a change, then maybe the one thing you do that day is go research what other jobs you might be interested in later that night,” she says.
Do you have relatives that haven’t seen you in years? Then make it a priority to look into flights today. Plus, a change of scenery could be exactly what you need to jumpstart your life and get out of your winter rut, especially if that scenery is some place warm.
So, you’ve got this. You can break out of your rut. But you have to do something small, and you have to start right now. So what are you waiting for? Get on it!