Many mornings he’d show up to work hours late and then fill his day with breaks and computer chess.
It got to a point where he became sharply aware of how unhappy he was, and he decided to do something about it.
If you’re in a rut long enough, you may find yourself not only drifting through your days but cutting corners and acting maliciously, Altucher says. But you can lift yourself out of this.
Here’s the eight-step routine Altucher developed, which he says helped take him from the bottom and put him on a path to success.
1. List out every aspect of your routine.
“When you are stuck it means you have a rigid routine,” Altucher writes. Write down absolutely everything you’ve been doing in your day, down to moments spent gossiping or taking a coffee break.
Altucher says that he had 50 things on his list.
2. Change one thing in the routine each day.
You’re going to have to get out of your toxic and mind-numbing routine, but it should be a gradual process.
Just make it one easy thing each day. Wake up an hour early to read a novel. Get lunch with a coworker you don’t know well. Go for a jog after work.
3. Write a list of things accomplished at the end of the day.
If you’re in a slump, you’re probably not flying through to-do lists. Try a things-I-did list instead.
“The things-I-did list is much better than the standard mainstream tool of productivity: the things-to-do list. Things-to-do is all about stress. I felt like a failure if I didn’t check every item on the list,” Altucher says.
4. Spend an hour researching something you were passionate about as a kid.
This is an exercise in tapping into what you actually want from life.
“Each thing you find out about is something new you learn now. And you might discover things you are still passionate about,” Altucher writes.
Each day find one person you haven’t spoken to in a while, like an old college friend or coworker, and reach out to them. Give them a call or shoot them a text or email, and see how that person’s been. Arrange to grab lunch or a drink.
By catching up, you’ll get exposure to different industries and may even set in motion a new, more favourable career opportunity.
6. Create something.
The act of expressing yourself through art can help snap you out of that feeling of being a robot whose life revolves around repetitive work. Write a four-line poem on your smartphone as you ride the subway, or buy an inexpensive watercolor set. Have fun.
As we explain in our “21-day plan for radical self-improvement,” research shows that journaling, creative writing, and creating visual art can reduce anxiety and other negative emotions.
7. Start healthy habits.
Altucher says that he keeps himself focused and satisfied through a four-tiered program:
Physical: Get enough sleep and exercise, and go easy on your vices.
Emotional: Only associate with the people who love you and inspire you.
Mental: Always be reading and learning, and write down any good ideas that come to you.
Spiritual: Whether you’re religious or not, gain peace of mind by being grateful for the good things in your life and accepting what you cannot change.
8. Determine what you’re afraid of.
“There’s excuse after excuse for not breaking your routine, and often excuses are based in fear. You break the routine by being aware of the fears,” Altucher says.
List out all the excuses you’ve been making in your life for why you’re not happy. Then think about either why these excuses are based on a false premise or how you can stop complaining and actually do something to better your situation.
After sticking to these eight steps, Altucher says, you’ll find that you have the power to break out of a constricting routine and actually start living life the way you want.
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