Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to go to school? Why do we tie our shoes this way?
I remember a game my dad and I would often play when I was a child and he made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I would say, “Tell me to put the peanut butter on top of the jelly!” He would instruct me to do just that, and I would proceed to do the opposite – placing the jelly on top of the peanut butter – and throwing my head back in hearty laughter. Perhaps you just call this defiance. I look back and see it as my early exploration of “why do we do things a certain way?” and “what could be done differently?”.
If you remember the “why” phase of your childhood or if you are around children today, you know about the exciting discovery that takes place when we question the world around us rather than ignore it or blindly make assumptions about what we do and how we live. For many of us, as we get older, we have a lot of facts in our heads, fewer questions, and we get more accustomed to the behaviors and accepted paths that seem to be our options in life.
When it comes to work, what are some of your assumptions? Work has to be drudgery. I don’t have the energy for a job search. I’m not adventurous. This is just what adults have to do before they can retire and play. No one will hire me. I’m stuck.
Your inner child might say, “Why am I stuck?”
“What would it look like if you weren’t stuck?”
Before you try to force yourself to tackle the big topics such as, “I have a mortgage”, start with the exercise of shaking up your thoughts a bit. Get CRAZY!
If your routine makes you feel like a robot, start by doing little things every day that might not be as practical as you would normally consider. This is purely to get your creative and slightly rebellious juices flowing in order to reconsider your options. (And I don’t mean skipping work without calling in and going skydiving.)
- Leave early one day and take a walk in a park (in the daylight). If you’re a little sweaty when you arrive at work, let it go!
- Found some extra money? Buy some fun shoes that you enjoy but could never wear to the office.
- Journal about 6 intriguing though “impossible things” before work every day. (lemons are purple, fish can talk, “I can move to Hawaii”, “I can write a book”, “I can quit my job – soon”…)
- Practice saying “yes” with fewer boundaries. (invitations to go golfing, a last-minute urge to get in your car and drive – without a plan…)
- Most of us spend the last minutes of the day worrying about the next day. As you go to sleep, revisit the fantasyland of your childhood. Would you save damsels in distress? Would you build a bridge to space and sit on a star? Go there! It’s your mind and your time. Dreaming is not just for kids.
The list above could be limitless. Sometimes, in order to break up with the abuses of our relationship with toxic workplaces and outdated commitments, we have to remind ourselves of the possibilities. We can do this by retraining our minds to think and create. We can disassociate ourselves from our assumptions, take a fresh look at our priorities, and answer the question, “Does my lifestyle actually reflect my true priorities?” You have to take action and experience these types of activities in order to enliven your spirit, rather than only ask yourself to think about them.
Do your crazy new shoes hold the keys to a new life? Probably not. Your openness to them reveals pathways of thought that could lead – who knows where! I am also not suggesting that you will find yourself abandoning your responsibilities. I propose that agitating your clogged mind will unleash a flurry of creativity you might not have experienced in years. You might have forgotten your capacity to invent and reinvent your own life.
Imagine the applications of freeing your thoughts. These activities should come with a disclaimer:
WARNING: You may experience increased confidence and emotional energy when considering new job opportunities. You may boost your personal brand and score new relationships in industries you’ve only seen in your dreams. You may command a lifestyle more suited to your priorities, and you may design a customized life that allows you more freedom to be true to yourself and your desires!
Why are you stuck?
What is NOT so impossible in your mind today?