“Creativity is the Greatest Rebellion in Existence” – Osho

Have you ever felt like you are on a hamster wheel and can’t get off it?   You thought you’ve stepped off, moved on and changed yet you still feel like nothing really has?

The thing is unless you are the guy who was on my flight from Toronto to Sao Miguel shoving his carry-on luggage in the overhead bin the SAME WAY over and over again. I have no doubt you have evolved in some way.  The question – for better or for worse?

Being an optimist, I’ll assume you evolved for the better. After all, that’s what most of us strive for – to grow in some way that leads us to fulfillment and happiness.  Even when you encountered something unpleasant, I’m sure you took it as a great lesson and is now wiser than you use to be. 

Back to the man on the plane. As I watched him repeat the same unsuccessful motion to get his carry-on into the overhead bin, it struck me how easy it is for us to get stuck on the hamster wheel.

Getting Stuck

Every day we are bombarded with distractions vying for our attention, making us exhausted at the end of the day trying to keep up with the demands of life. We get swept up in our routine. Often, it leaves us with little time to question whether what we do day-in and day-out is taking us closer to what we want or further away from it. We can quickly lose sight of ourselves and what we are doing, leaving us feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

Getting Off The Hamster Wheel

When you start to feel like this, it is time to pause and do some self-reflection. Pay attention to your life and your routines. Revisit your priorities. What your priorities were six months ago, a year, 3 years ago, etc. may have changed because your life circumstances have changed.

Make room and time to assess what’s going on, what’s working and what’s not. Create the space to generate ideas to up your game to create the life you want.   Because if you don’t stop and check-in with yourself, you may lose sight of your end goal.  You can get stuck thinking there is only one way to accomplish something. This one-track mindset will then hinder your ability to see there are other ways to get things done. Getting you to where you want to go.

How I Got Stuck On the Hamster Wheel

When I moved to Toronto I knew I needed to have some steady income coming in. I went back to what was familiar and got a corporate job in order to live in this expensive city. I successfully negotiated to work an 80% workweek so that I can focus on building my blog and other interests I have.

Nonetheless, I got caught up with the benefits of having an office job.   Being in a new city, I couldn’t help but explore and have fun. Since I was receiving a regular paycheck and not having to think where my money was coming from, I lost focused and got back on the hamster wheel of being a worker bee. I ignored my inner voice telling me a 9-5 job is not for me and reasoned with myself that it’s not so bad.

Needless to say, as time passed, the honeymoon stage is over.  So feeling weary again, when I encountered the comical action of this man on the plane I saw myself on the hamster wheel.

I knew it was time to step off it and re-evaluate what’s going on in my life and what I’m doing. Here are the questions that helped me get off the hamster wheel and get back on track:

What do I really value?

What can I do differently?

Who can I seek help from?

What else can I do to get me to where I want to go?

What can I do to find relief from what I’m feeling?  

What became apparent is that I value my freedom waaaay too much.   I realized if I continue to ignore my feelings and kept doing what I was doing I will be miserable.  Since I am now more aware my happiness is directly correlated to the amount of freedom I’m able to give myself, my priorities are now back in focus. I’m back investing my time to the endeavours and interests that will give me the freedom I seek.

So next time when you are feeling like you haven’t made any progress, give yourself a break. In taking the time to look at the big picture and to reflect what’s going on, you are now in a better position to redirect your efforts (as you see fit) and your course of actions.

In Summary

When you notice your efforts haven’t resulted in any progress, take the time to stop and check-in with yourself. Get focus on what truly matters to you.

Brainstorm. Think outside the box. Know that there are multiple ways to get to the same destination.  Don’t assume you know the only way. Find ways to see other perspectives. Adjust your course if warranted.

Don’t be like the man on the plane.

He did not try and tilt it or re-arrange the items in the overhead bin. He did not seek help or look for another bin that had more space. He just did the same thing over and over again in a robotic motion lifting his carry-on over his shoulder and trying to push his bag into the overhead bin.

The funny thing was when he finally got tired of all the lifting, he stopped.  In that moment where he took the time to catch his breath, a flight attendant appeared and came to help him. She grabbed his carry-on from him, turned it to the side and swoosh~ in it went effortlessly.

So promise me when you are feeling out of sort, like something is off, take a step back and make time to self-reflect. Remove yourself from the demands and stressors in your life for a minute. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list and check in with yourself.

In the long run, it will make a difference in your life. Because in spending the time to clear your head and reminding yourself what it is you are trying to accomplish, what your priorities are, it will help you choose your next steps more wisely. Before you know it, you’ll be back on track and in flow with creating the life you want.


Photo by: Igor Ovsyannykov