How To Take Control Of Your Life When Life Seems To Be Controlling You
Hint: It's easier than you think
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a certain kind of depression. The kind that almost always presents itself whenever we get caught up in the cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat. The problem is that once we find ourselves in this cycle, it can take years — if not what feels like a lifetime — before we’re ready to do anything about it.
Be very honest with yourself. Are you in control of your life, or does your life control you? The answer to this question is actually fairly easy. All you need to do is look back at the last 30 days and ask yourself:
- Did you do anything memorable?
- Accomplish a major goal?
- What about go a whole week without complaining about work?
If you answered no to the questions above, know that you’re not alone. Many of us have found ourselves in the same cycle, feeling stuck, frustrated, genuinely disappointed with the way things are going.
A close friend of mine constantly complains that there’s nothing to do in our city, yet doesn’t take the time or effort to go out and find something to do. Instead, he sits on the couch eating the same food day in and day out, burnout from work, tired of the repetitious cycle he finds himself in. I’ve been in this situation before, and — if you’re a human-like me — then you probably have to.
The big problem here is that we tend to attract the things that we do/think of the most in life. The longer we spend trapped in this cycle, the harder it’ll be to break out of it when the time comes. So that seemingly harmless time you skipped your vacation might be the reason why you don’t take one next year — or ever. That week you took off from work because you “didn’t feel good” but really just wanted to relax and play video games might be the reason why you struggle so much getting ready for work in the morning.
So What Can You Do?
Without making a conscious effort to go out, do more, see more, and experience more, then you’re subconsciously telling your psyche that “this is it and all there ever will be. I am content and comfortable with the way things are going.” Even if you know it’s not true unless you actively do something to prove otherwise, the universe will acknowledge your sense of content. It will continue to give you the same food, the same experiences, and the same repetitious cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat.
If you want to break free of this cycle, then read below, where I offer five of my favorite methods to break free of the cycle and experience more than life has to offer.
Take a sick day
Obviously, it would be best to avoid making a habit out of it, but understandably, sometimes you need a break. So take a sick day and use that time to reground yourself by breaking the cycle.
Go out with some friends, explore nature, or travel to a neighboring town/city. Do something that you normally wouldn’t do, and you’ll be surprised to find that the following days won’t feel as tedious and boring as before.
Find a hobby
Studies show that hobbies are essential for our well-being. For instance, a study done by AYTM shows that 74% of overall respondents considered having hobbies to be important. Yet, when I say hobby, I mean a productive hobby. Like, did you know that watching television counts as a hobby? It doesn’t, yet, according to half of the American population, it is.
But why not find a productive hobby? One that brings not just a sense of satisfaction or contempt (like watching t.v) but a hobby that keeps your hands — or your mind!- busy.
Why not try:
- Making arts & crafts (like wood whittling or making jewelry)
- Frisbee golf
Read an autobiography
We commonly find ourselves stuck in life, both in the repetitious cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat, and the overall feeling of stagnation — not going anywhere — because we limit our experiences (or knowledge of experiences). We look at life through our eyes, judging everything around us based on one perspective. Which is quite limiting, might I add. So why not spend a little time in someone else’s shoes?
That’s right. I’m talking about autobiographies!
I love to read, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I discovered the hidden powers of the autobiography. It all started with Abraham Lincoln, An Extraordinary Life. I can’t remember exactly what led me to pick up that book, but it drastically changed my life by changing how I looked at life. Since then, I’ve read dozens of autobiographies recounting the exploits of some of the world’s most successful individuals.
Here are some good ones to start:
- Abraham Lincoln, An Extraordinary Life
- Long Walk To Freedom — Nelson Mandela
- Becoming — Michelle Obama
- Dreams From My Father — Barrack Obama
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Try new (local) food
Because why not? Sometimes, breaking the cycle is as easy as incorporating a few new foods into your diet. Plus, supporting local restaurants is a pro bonus, especially since they had to up their game to survive during the pandemic.
Sometimes I find myself eating the same things day in and day out (and I’m ashamed to admit they’re not exactly the healthiest of options). Whenever I find myself locked in this cycle, the first thing I’ll do is try something new. If you live in a big city like me, then I can almost guarantee that you’re missing out on something. Recently I discovered a local restaurant that sells the best Russian dumplings.
The next time you consider going out to eat, don’t just go where you normally would. Look up specific cuisines (Mexican, Indian, Russian), and I can almost guarantee you’ll find somewhere new — hopefully within a good distance. But if not, then maybe consider:
Take a road trip/vacation (and GO BIG!)
When’s the last time you took a good vacation? And no, I don’t mean the 14 days you might have spent in self-quarantine or that one time you went to the zoo for your birthday. I’m talking about a vacation. Something that you wouldn’t normally do without an extreme amount of planning. Like, Bora-Bora, maybe? Oh, you can’t afford it, you say? Well, what if I told you that you could?
Let’s say you plan on taking a vacation in June of next year. Then ideally, you’d want to start saving now — a year in advance. But how, and how much?
- Choose a destination. Venice, Rome, Thailand, Spain, Africa, New Zealand. Pick one, anyone, and get to planning!
- Once you have your destination set, determine how much money it would cost. Include things like airfare, room & board, food, entertainment, etc.
- Once you have your set amount, divide that over 12 months, and set up an automatic withdrawal to deposit the needed funds into separate savings.
- Most important of all, book your trip in advance! To book a $5,000 all-inclusive package to Bora-Bora (a year in advance) only costs $100, and flights themselves are incredibly cheap if booked in advance.
If you follow the above steps, then I can almost guarantee that you’ll be sipping mimosas on some tropical beach for your next big vacation. Just knowing that something this big is waiting for you will motivate you to get through the 9–5 grind and still have some motivation to live a good life.