This post by Efrain Martinezon originally appeared in Elephant Journal on May 26, 2015.
I was broke and tired everyday.
I was “stuck” at my job and I couldn’t get up in the morning. I’d set my alarm two hours before I had to get up and hit snooze until it was eight o’clock. I’d roll on to the floor and just lay there looking at the ceiling.
I was late for work every day. My boss told his boss and they pulled me aside.
“You have to start coming in on time. Or we’ll find someone who can.”
I typed into Google “How to get unstuck” and Google finished my sentence for me. It added, “in life.” Number two was “in mud” and number four was “from super glue.”
Lots of people are stuck in life.
There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re not a bad person for it. But you end up getting unhappier and unhappier until you start looking for ways to shake it up. Maybe you start drinking more. Or you stay up all night watching videos.
One of the biggest signs for me that I was stuck was when I realized I only lived for the weekends. Every weekday was the same. I would get up, go to work, come back home, watch television, sleep, repeat.
And then the weekends went by excruciatingly fast. It was Monday again and I was telling myself,
“Five more days until Saturday.”
One day I got off the train after a long day at work. I took my key out to unlock my bike, but I didn’t see my bike. All that was left was a wheel.
I walked two miles home.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I had enough. Something needed to change. I started a project.
I decided to get out of my comfort zone every day for the next 100 days.
I was going to face my fears. I was going to try things. I was going to meet new and interesting people. I was going to create.
At the end, it got me unstuck. I learned what it was that worked for me. Never believe anything anyone tells you. Try it for yourself. Here’s what I did. But, most importantly, I hope you try it for yourself.
1. List your daily routine.
List everything you do. Even the little things like brushing your hair, putting your shoes on, taking the train, etc. Make it as long as you can.
You want to see everything you do every single day.
2. Do something to change your list above.
When I did one hundred things that got me out of my comfort zone, some of things I did were things that changed my routine.
For example, when I walked to work, I took a different route. Or I woke up an hour earlier and wrote.
3. Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Try this: When you go buy your morning coffee, ask the cashier if you can get ten percent off your coffee.
It was one of my challenges. My heart was pounding when I asked this because what would the cashier think of me? Who asks that? Is it okay to ask that?
It also taught me a valuable lesson.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always “no.”
Many people are stuck because they hide from fear. But the point to life isn’t to avoid it.
4. Reach out to new people.
One of my challenges was to interview someone I admired.
I emailed marketing genius Seth Godin and asked him if we could chat. Again, I asked.
I thought there was no way he would ever respond me. He’s the best selling author of over 15 books. But he answered. A few days later, we were having a conversation about fighting fear.
Who do you admire that you would love to talk to?
Maybe you love their books or blog. Maybe it’s your boss at work. Send them an email and ask them if you could interview them. Say it’s for a project you’re doing.
They say you’re the average of the five people you hang out with. Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
5. Do nothing.
You wont find this on any other list of ways to get unstuck.
For one day, just do nothing and don’t feel guilty. A big problem I had when I was stuck was that every day I felt like I had to be doing something or else I was a failure.
What a horrible way to live.
It’s okay to sometimes do nothing. Take the day off. Watch a movie guilt-free. Take a walk. Take a nap. Read. Nobody ever said on their deathbed they wished they had worked longer hours.
6. Help someone.
For a whole day, be a superhero.
Look for anyone who needs help. Help someone cross the street. Help someone carry their bags up the stairs. Introduce a friend to someone who can help them with a project they’re working on.
Don’t expect anything back.
7. Apply for a new job in a creative way.
Maybe you feel “stuck” because you don’t like your job. Seth Godin says,
“Jobs people kill for are never gotten by someone sending in a resume.”
I sent in a video of me explaining why I was great for the job as a challenge in my project. I actually got the job! When you send in a resume, you’re begging to get rejected.
Come up with ways to make yourself stand out. That sets you apart from the 99 percent of others sending in a resume hoping to get picked.
8. Create a project.
Most people would rather create something than spend all day in a cubicle being a cog in the system.
I did a project where I got out of my comfort zone every day for one hundred days and then wrote about it at EfrainMart.com.
It made me wake up in the morning because I was working on something I loved and was proud of. And it was my own creation.
So find something you love and then create something around it. Work on it every day. Maybe you love cooking. Make a cookbook and self publish it on Amazon. Maybe you like bikes. Start blogging about bikes every day and start fixing bikes for money.
Do anything that makes you feel creative.
Here’s a short story from day five of my challenge:
I wanted to look out of the top window of the NBC building in Chicago. It’s six hundred feet tall and has thirty-seven floors. I hit thirty-seven on the elevator. When I got to the top floor, a tall man in a grey suit saw me there.
“Can I help you?” he said.
“I’m trying to look out the window of the top floor,” I said.
His face turned furious and he kicked me out of the building. I had never been yelled at and kicked out of anywhere since high school. Although I felt worried and nervous at first, it was different.
It was day five on my journey of getting out of my comfort zone.
I left the NBC building and walked to work. I had a big smile on my face and I could feel the sweat coming off my forehead.
I felt something I hadn’t felt after years of living the same day over and over.
I felt alive.
This post originally appeared in Elephant Journal.