A few months ago during a hot yoga class our instructor began by telling us a story. At first I was annoyed (this is cutting into my workout time-we only have an hour lady!) but as the story unfolded it became clear it was something I needed to hear. As we sat with our legs crossed and our eyes closed she talked about a friend who had been struggling with his yoga practice. He began to obsess over improving his practice and suddenly yoga had turned into a workout. (Anyone who practices yoga on a regular basis knows that it’s so much more than a workout. It’s a way of life, a mindset, a disposition…it’s no coincidence that I have become a little more “zen” since I began practicing yoga 3 years ago.) Instead of looking forward to it he began to dread it. As my instructor put it, he needed to “fall back in love” with his yoga practice.
As the weeks went by my mind kept going back to this story. I think we can all identify with the need to “fall back in love” with something. Whatever it is for you-work, motherhood, a habit, your home- it’s easy to relate to the story. We tend to look back at the good old days when enthusiasm, passion and optimism was at an all-time high. And then, slowly, something happens. We get a promotion, a raise, recognition, attention and we like how that feels. It becomes less about what we are doing and more about perfecting our practice. The work starts to feel more like work and less like fun. Then one day we take a hard look in the mirror only to realize we have fallen out of love with what we do. We begin to complain, point fingers and make up excuses for the reasons why things aren’t what they used to be. So what do we do? Walk away? It was fun while it lasted yoga, but I’m out!!
I certainly don’t have the answers. But I have been in this situation both professionally and personally. As I focused on getting my groove back I followed these steps:
1. I realized that I was in control of my happiness. Instead of moping around after not getting a promotion I badly wanted (which I’m not proud to admit I did for a few months) I focused on what was within my control and wrote a proposal for a project that I was passionate about. This project eventually led to an opportunity to work in Egypt for 10 days, an opportunity to work with all new hires on our team and over time, a promotion.
2. I tried a new approach. Albert Einstein defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”. A few years ago I was burnt out with running. It was my only form of exercise and it got to the point where I was only running 2-3 days a week. I rarely looked forward to the runs and I was frustrated with the lack of regular exercise. I began to incorporate a variety of workouts into my routine. I now work out 5-6 days a week and I look forward to the 2-3 days a week I get to run. As an added side-effect, I improved my speed, strength and endurance.
3. I took time to reflect. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving at the speed of light. Before I’m done with one thing I’m on to another. I’ve tried to make it a priority to take time and reflect. I ask myself probing questions in order to identify what I really want or how I’m really feeling. Often times my initial reaction is more of a result of caring what people think of me or how others will perceive the situation. It’s amazing what you can reveal when you respect yourself enough to dig deep and let go of your ego.
Whatever it is you need to fall back in love with, I would encourage you to take the time to think it through. If it is something (or someone) that should be a part of your life it deserves nothing less than your undivided attention. You are doing yourself a disservice by spending even one more minute looking back and wishing for the “good old days”. The best days are still ahead if you have the courage to change.