Tag Archives: Life

Six things to do when you don’t know what to do.

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:  You’re not happy in your current job but aren’t sure what else you’re qualified to do.  You’re not making enough money but you can’t afford to quit.  You want to do something meaningful but you haven’t found your “passion”.

Go back to school?  Start your own business??  Join the circus??? 

If you’ve become paralyzed by indecision, the best strategy may be to stop, take a breath, and come at the problem from a different direction.  Here are some ideas to get you moving:

Dive deep into a new subject.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Pick something that interests you (work-related or not) and start learning everything you can about it.  Explore it from different perspectives and thru different mediums.  Follow footnotes and interesting asides.  See where it takes you.

Get an activity tracker and start walking.  Feeling aimless drains your energy and you may find yourself in a sedentary rut.  An activity tracker (I like the FitBit) will help you focus on getting up and out.  And walking will clear your mental fog and get you thinking big thoughts.

Declutter.  Our physical space and our mental space are deeply entwined.  Clearing our  material baggage has a magic way of clearing our psyche as well.  Purge ruthlessly and then examine what’s left.  It may hold clues to what really matters in your life.  (Marie Kondo’s book on the magic of tidying up explores this in depth.)

Keep a time log.  “I don’t have time.” is probably the biggest excuse we use for not moving forward.  But you probably have more than you think.  Track everything you do for a week and see where your time is really going.  Then evaluate what you can change to make time for something new.

Start a blog.  Pick something that interests you and start writing about it.  It doesn’t have to be ground breaking stuff, but commit to writing something on the regular.  Explore other blogs and start connecting with people online.  Be open to the process and again, see where it takes you.

Volunteer to work with someone from another country.  Volunteering is good experience in general, but working directly with someone from another culture – tutoring a non-native speaker, for example – is an excellent way to put your own life in perspective.

 

How about you?  Have you ever felt aimless?  How did you deal with it?

 

(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)

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Four tips for having a better day.

lemon ginger water

Dominik Martin via Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I find it often takes hearing the same advice many, many (many?) times before it actually sticks.  But eventually, I internalize good ideas and am the better for it.  Here are a few oft-cited “make your day better” tips I’ve recently adopted:

Hydrate in the morning.  One reason we often feel tired and icky in the morning is because it has been several hours since our last drink of water.  We wake up mildly dehydrated and drinking coffee first thing just exacerbates the problem.  I enjoy reading about productive morning routines and this advice pops up frequently.  As does…

Don’t check email or social media first thing.  It sends you down a productivity rabbit hole and puts you in reactive mode for the whole day.  It’s better to tackle your most important, meaningful work before anything else.  Which ties into this next one nicely…

Utilize your peak energy.  For me, this is the first two hours of the day.  If I “ease in” to my day with Facebook and Bloglovin’, I miss that important energy window.  My energy drops dramatically in the afternoon and I rarely feel like doing focused or creative work.  And of course…

Pay attention to Benedict Cumberbatch.  Seriously, I just did not see the attraction for the longest time.  I was vaguely aware of him from the Sherlock series (and found Watson more interesting).  But now I get what everyone is talking about.  This interview with Fast Company is good and this episode of Graham Norton is better.  (Plus, you get Miranda Hart, who is just beyond hilarious.)

 

How about you?  Is there any good advice that you’ve been slow to adopt?

 

A Scandinavian Dream: Ideas For Staying Happy This Winter

Ideas for staying happy this winter

Mosier, OR

It has honestly been a winter wonderland around here this week, with bright sun, glittering snow and afternoons spent sledding on the driveway.  But I know the harsh reality of winter will eventually set in, with prolonged stretches of the cold, gray and gloomy.  The mood around here tends to drop with the temperature, so I’ve always wondered how the Nordic countries, with their ridiculously short days and icy temps, always seem to top the World Happiness Report.  So I turned to the Interwebs to figure out why.

Not surprisingly, things like a high GDP per capita, universal healthcare, generous parental leave and gender equality play a big role.  While it’s interesting to consider how these ideas might apply to organizational management, I was really looking for tangible things I could implement to boost my family’s happiness this winter.  Here’s what I found:

Maximize natural light.  Scandinavian interior design is known for its clean lines, white-washed woods and large, curtain-free windows.  The reason?  Light.  We’re generally more alert, productive and happy when our indoor time allows for ample natural light.

Get outside.  Scandinavians don’t let the cold trap them inside.  They just bundle up and get out there.  Kids are encouraged to play outside every day and even babies are left outside to nap in their prams at surprisingly low temperatures.  Biking to school or work is common in cities like Copenhagen and the vast majority of bikers continue to get out even during the winter’s coldest months.

Enjoy some carbs.  All that hiking, biking and playing in freezing temps will burn a lot of calories.  Which means you can compensate with lovely baked goods.

Volunteer your time.  It seems that Nordic folk volunteer quite a lot, which contributes to a sense of belonging and collective responsibility.  Feeling connected and purposeful leads to greater happiness.  And volunteering generally requires getting out of the house, which fights those cabin-fever induced doldrums.

Get cozy.  While getting out is important, staying in and cuddling by the fire has its benefits too.  The Danish have a term, “hygge“, that loosely translates to “coziness” but encompasses a broader sense of sanctuary, community and closeness.  It’s about creating time and space to enjoy the moment and spend quality time with family and friends.  Crackling fires, warm candlelight and comfortable spaces are key.

 

How about you?  What do you do to combat the winter blues?