My Summer Travels to Dakhla

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Whether it’s career burnout, general aimlessness or a craving for a new path, most people will hear a call for a positive life change at some point in their lives.

This isn’t about the National Institutes of Health report that 16 million U.S. adults suffer from at least one major depressive episode each year, but rather about a healthy need to jar oneself out of a rut. What to do?

The case studies that follow offer excellent anecdotes that work. The key is to focus on the roots of your doldrums, recognize your power to get on the other side, and map out concrete action steps for moving through this phase and on to your greatness. If you find yourself in a rut, try these tactics to move forward.

The key is to focus on the roots of your doldrums, recognize your power to get on the other side, and map out concrete action steps for moving through this phase and on to your greatness.

  1. Identify the forces in your life that make you truly happy. Science finds that connection to loved ones, health (exercise specifically), and giving back are all closely connected to happiness. Create goals that include these themes.
  2. Focus on change. Write down the steps that you will take to move out of your rut. These might be specific things related to the results you want-for example, signing up for a class that introduces you to new people and experiences-but change can be found everywhere. Take a different route to work. Drink your coffee after breakfast instead of before. If you always tackle the elliptical machine at the gym, take on the treadmill. Buy an outfit that is outside of your comfort zone, or travel to new lands. Tackle a new skill that challenges your self-identity. Think of yourself as an introvert? Sign up for improv classes. Convinced you’re not athletically inclined? Enroll in tennis lessons. Are you a confident loudmouth? Go on a silent retreat.
  3. Get a goal buddy. This might mean asking a close friend, perhaps someone who also wants to make life alterations, or telling your entire network about your plans. Fear of public humiliation can be a powerful, positive force for adherence.
  4. Be open. You might start this journey with a clear idea of your desired outcomes. But if you do hard internal work and open yourself to the possibilities of positive change, even more amazing evolutions will be revealed. Stay nimble, and say yes.

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