The excitement and high activity of the new year has long since given over to routine everyday tasks. Those hopes for change in the coming months remain, but motivation? Hello, wayside! And the calendar hints that spring is coming soon, but it sure doesn’t feel like it yet.
Life right now seems to be colorless and uninteresting. Lackluster. Bland. Sound familiar?
Let’s face it, this in-between time can be a real challenge for even the most can-do personality. But while that “spinning my wheels” feeling can be common, it’s also something you can work your way past. I have a handy process that just might reignite your fire.
You may recall I’ve mentioned this three-step solution-mapping technique before. It’s Recognize, Reframe, Reclaim—or “the 3Rs” for short. Here’s how the system works:
Step 1: Recognize
To “recognize” means to look beneath the surface and see a more complete picture of your challenge. Is something underlying your current blank state? Ask yourself honestly: Do I just feel “blah,” a sense of sitting in neutral? Or am I actually moving slowly in a negative direction?
Occasional periods without much emotion are common and harmless, but a subtle undercurrent of negative feelings can be the opening salvo of depression. Fact: Depression accompanies a wide range of conditions including diabetes, midlife hormone shifts, arthritis and chronic pain, vitamin deficiencies, etc. And major life stresses like caring for an aging parent or the demands of a high-pressure job factor in heavily, too. If you feel not just “neutral” but “negative,” I urge you to seek your doctor’s opinion.
If you’re confident depression isn’t the cause of your inertia, though, I have good news for you: This “blah” you’re in is likely nothing more than a rut—a path that’s grown worn, lifeless, and, frankly, boring.
Routines and rituals lend us stability and efficiency. But too much same old, same old can also strip away the natural variations and points of interest on our daily journeys. Nothing but the norm makes a person feel stale and uninspired. How best to fix that? Well…
Step 2: Cognitive Reframe
To “reframe” is to approach a challenge from a new direction. And what’s the opposite direction from “boredom”? Adventure!
A break from that sameness and predictability may be all it takes to jar your curiosity again. Small tweaks can add spice to even the most humdrum habits. For example,
- Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
- Eat a hot breakfast instead of the usual cold one (or vice versa).
- Take an alternative route to work.
- Reverse the order of minor daily tasks, like checking messages, picking up mail, or watering plants.
- Plan an “ordinary” dinner, but invite a friend to share it.
Get the idea? A choice doesn’t have to be risky to spark a sense of adventure and brush off the mental cobwebs. It’s a quick upshift for your mindset—and breaking routine can also benefit your brain physiologically. Studies have demonstrated that straying from pattern forces the brain to form different neural pathways, laying the foundation for connections that weren’t there before. Shaking things up is like a mini-workout, inside your head.
The effect of little adventures can snowball, too. After a few days peppered with minor shifts, you may begin to feel a pull toward more significant changes. Roll with that momentum! It just could be the forward motion that spurs a long-term wellness or lifestyle improvement.
Step 3: Reclaim
“Reframe” is an action step; “reclaim” is the moment of reflection and gratitude that follows. Ask yourself, “What positives came with that one small change?” These are golden moments you might otherwise have missed. For example, on that new route to work, did you unexpectedly run into a friend? take in a street scene buzzing with motion and energy? work out a puzzle of new-to-you subway stops? discover the shade of a lovely, graceful old tree? smell the aromas drifting from a new bakery? awaken your calves with a hike that runs uphill?
Mentally catalog those small but welcome gifts, embracing each one. They’re yours for the taking.
So. Recognize the true nature of your late-winter slump. Reframe some daily to-dos as adventures of discovery. And reclaim the joy that comes with dynamic living. Need a hand to get started? Contact me. I would be honored to witness and support your renewal!