Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Sarah Gallagher
Small Significant Changes To Get Out Of Your Rut
Once you lose your husband, all of a sudden it’s hard to go on living because there’s no sense in living anymore, but at the same time you don’t want to sit there and do nothing because you NEED to keep going. You’re a solo parent, right? You have to be there for them, even sometimes it’s the only reason you’re getting out of bed. But sometimes this does mean that when you’re just going through the motions, doing the same thing over and over again, and you’re not getting any better…that means you’re in a rut.
That means that you’re not getting any movement forward. As a widow, as a solo parent, it’s so important to recognize that and to make the steps to GO forward. I’m not saying to make all these big steps, but just the small significant steps to get you to where you need to be.
We resist change even though we know that it’s going to be good for us.
Now, it’s easier said than done, right?
You may think that you want to change your life. You might think that you want to harness life and break out of your rut, but the truth is that most of us are resistant to change.
It’s part of human nature. We resist change even though we know that it’s going to be good for us.
We resist change even though we know that it’s going to be good for us, because the brain is wired to avoid change, according to research published in Journal of Neuroscience by Zachary Mainen at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon. Even if the change leads to a better outcome, it can still be difficult to accept because of how your brain processes information, Mainen said.
According to a report in Fast Company about his work, Mainen said, “The brain is not interested in new information, but in predicting what will happen next.”
We stick with the same jobs and routines because it’s familiar and comfortable, even if it’s not fulfilling or inspiring us.
And that kind of makes sense for us right now. Right? I mean, considering that you’ve just gone through the most traumatic situation in your life where all of a sudden life has been turned upside down because you’ve lost somebody to death – unexpectedly for the most part – but even if you have been expecting it, you can never really be prepared for when a death hits. As we all now know, it is unlike anything else in the world. All of a sudden, your brain has gone through this traumatic event that is brand new, it doesn’t want any more change.Why would it? So it’s gonna get very comfy, knowing what it knows right now, which could be pain, it could be just sitting there not knowing what to do, it could be discomfort, it could be fog. A lot of the time when you’re going through your grief there’s a lot of fog, because your brain doesn’t know how to process anything. It’s kind of like going on his own little trip.
It’s trying to predict what’s going to happen next.
This is why it is especially difficult for widows, who have gone through a significant change already. So we get stuck. We get stuck doing the same things again, and again, knowing it’s not going to get us anywhere for any further than where we already are. Whether it’s a career or a job you don’t like. It could be because you are comfortable in your home, even knowing that you can afford it on your own. Or maybe you have to move out to another place where you are closer to your friends and family who could support you a lot during this change. But you don’t want to because where you are now is familiar. It’s familiar being in the house that you’ve been living in all this time. It’s familiar doing the same things and trying to be friends with the same people, even though they maybe have not changed as you have.
You recognize that right? Even though you are resistant to change, you have fundamentally changed as a widow. What’s one more thing? What small, significant steps can you make to get you out of your bed to move going forward? How can we push past this resistance to change?
It can be hard to make these big changes at once. But the small changes that you do can add up over time. So we don’t have to make these big grandiose changes all at once in order to see big results.
Taking on too much at once isn’t the answer.
We might not have a choice in this right now as we all of a sudden have to take care of all the things because they’re all our responsibility now because the person that was helping us isn’t here anymore. The people we ask for help, they’re out doing their own things or living their own life. And so yes, it is you taking on all the things – but only up to your own capability. You have to recognize your own boundaries to at the same time
When life gets hectic, as you know, it can feel that there’s so many more tasks on your plate than hours in the day, your stress levels will start to rise. You’re already going through this right now. And once you do this, you stop being productive all together, you’re not able to think. Instead of focusing on one task at a time, I jump around from one to-do list item to another, hoping that the work will get done faster and more efficiently if I multitask.
I hope I can get all of the stuff done faster and more efficiently if I do this all at the same time. But of course I don’t. I end up having one or two little things, maybe halfway done, maybe a quarter way done. So many ideas I have to jump on later. At the end of the day, I have two different browsers up and each browser has like 10 different tabs open. I haven’t gotten anywhere.
If you keep jumping around from thing to thing, or from task to task, how are you going to be able to focus to get that one thing done? If you’re going through your grief, you only have so much concentrated brain power that you can use in a day or a minute or hour wherever it is in your grief journey, to be able to focus on one thing. So why spread it out? You know that you can’t use that concentrated time effectively.
The truth is: multitasking never works because you can never give 100% of your attention to more than one thing at a time. In fact, research has found that switching between tasks can cost as much as 40% of your productive
We get comfortable. In our everyday routines, we get comfortable knowing what’s going to be there because we resist change. So instead of taking on all the things, instead of trying to do all the things at once, what if we change this perspective a little bit?
So if you have something that is important to you that you haven’t yet achieved, then what’s really stopping you? What are you distracting yourself from all these other multitasking things?
Start with something so simple that you can hardly believe you’ve been putting it off for so long.
This could be finally organizing your sock drawer. Or making a list of chores for your kids to help out with. Sometimes, even just asking for help can be a huge help in getting out of your routine of doing it on your own. That’s something else, right? You get stuck in that I’ll do it myself, I’ll get this done. But if there’s too much, if you’re not delegating, then you’re not going to be able to get things done, but yet you still feel responsible for doing all the things.
Start something simple. Start delegating, start putting something else that your kids can do, make them responsible.
For us widows, this can be so simple as finding someone you can talk to that can help you re-prioritize. That’s why finding groups such as this one can be so important to get ideas about how other people are doing it, then maybe you can be inspired.
Or by hiring a grief coach who can help prioritize what is really important, to focus on that and help you move forward with that one thing. Help accomplish that thing before you move on to the next. Re-prioritizing and checking in. Because, as we know, everybody’s grief journey is different. To help you figure out what’s important for you, by having someone be able to oversee the whole picture and help you prioritize what it actually should get done.
Let’s face it, the world of work is full of distractions.
It’s all too easy to get distracted by the urgent and important rather than focusing on what really matters.
Some days, it seems like we can barely get out of bed, let alone get any real work done. What’s more, we often feel a huge sense of guilt about this lack of productivity and motivation.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways to kick-start our productivity and motivation so that we’re more productive, more creative and have more energy and focus to get stuff done.
These tools will help you make small and significant changes that won’t take too much time or effort to complete. But the effects will be profound.
Then add another step until your routine feels different, but still familiar.
Start with one thing, like reorganising that sock drawer. Make that into your routine. Once every week, you’re gonna reorganise your sock drawer and get it done. Once you feel okay with that, then add another step until your routine feels different, but still familiar. Small steps.
There are times in your life where your things are going to feel a bit off. Obviously, besides the fact that you’re feeling off all the time, some days you’re going to feel your energy isn’t quite there. Or maybe you’re a bit more tired than usual. Maybe you’re bored of your daily routine, maybe you’re just so sick of doing the same damn thing over and over again. Maybe you’re sick of sitting there with a lump and not being able to get anything done, just staring at all the mess.
Whatever it is, chances are, you could be at a time where you feel like you need to make some changes in your life, but you don’t know how to start. When this happens, look at what you do every day and think about what can be changed, make that one change and then add another step until your routine feels different, but still familiar.
Here are some seemingly insignificant changes you can make in your daily routine that will help you focus on what matters to get more done.
- Choose a few colours and write with them only. Here’s a link to my favourite Coloured Pens. When you go over your monthly, weekly and daily overview lists, break down the tasks you need to get done by using different colours. So if for instance, you want to write about a daily task for yourself, maybe do it in red. If it’s something about the family, put that in green. If it’s something to do with business, put it in blue. Just change it up a little bit. That way your brain refocuses on how you feel and associates those feelings with the different tasks. It’s a small way to get the heart and mind to work together again.
- Do less, but do it better. You can’t do everything, so focus on doing fewer things really well, rather than a lot of things poorly. Pick one or two things as your daily tasks, and do those two things really well. By the end of the day, you’re gonna feel so good about getting those one or two things done, then it doesn’t matter if you have ten or twelve other things on your to-do list; you’ve got two things done that you don’t have to worry about. And most importantly, you don’t have to come back to again.
- Start writing down just one thing per day that you’re grateful for. Then add another thing each day until you’re listing five things every day that make you happy or grateful to be alive. In our Facebook group, we do this once a week on Mondays to start the week off right. I’ve recorded another video about intentional gratitude, where you create a physical representation that keeps growing over time. It’s an awesome gratitude reminder.
- Pick one or two podcasts that interest you and listen to them while working out or during commute times. Then add another podcast until your playlist is full of inspiring new voices and ideas. Maybe you want motivation, maybe you want to listen to other widows and how they’ve gotten through. If that’s the case, you want to listen to Widow 180. Jen Zwick does a fantastic job of interviewing widows who’ve gone through their trials and tribulations and how they’ve come out at the other end.
- Make a list of three things that bring you joy and do one of them every day for a week straight, then two things the following week, then three things after that until the list is complete. Then start again, make a new list. Change up your routine.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you stray occasionally.
No one expected Rome to be built in a day. Your life is infinitely more complicated than that old bunch of ruins.
If you wake up one day with less energy than usual, than adjust to match your natural flow.
If you’re full of anticipation to get something done, but life gets in the way, don’t sweat it.
There is so much more in the world to deal with than to dwell on than a non-productive day.
Give yourself a break. You’re a working, widowed, solo parent. You’re amazing – and can allow yourself a breather.
Give yourself time to adjust, and don’t feel like you have to take on a huge project or several projects all at once.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
It’s time to shake things up. If you’re not where you want to be – and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming that you’re not – then something needs to change.
You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.
But change isn’t easy.
We get comfortable in our everyday routines and we resist change even when we know it’s ‘good’ for us!
Instead, make small changes that don’t feel like a huge undertaking.
If you’re looking to make sweeping changes, you’ll likely end up falling flat.
Instead, make small changes that don’t feel like a huge undertaking.
Get up early and go to bed late. This is one of the most basic ways to get more out of your day. If you wake up just 30 minutes earlier, you can get a lot done before your day starts. The same goes for staying up later — you’ll have time to work on projects or whatever else without interruptions from others who might be at home with you during the day.
Keep your kitchen and family areas as clean as possible. When these areas are clean, I’m much more productive. You can minimize distractions by minimizing clutter in the high traffic family areas. Take a few minutes each morning or evening to organize these rooms and tidy it up so it’s ready for the next day.
Don’t multi-task (unless it’s mindless). Concentrating on one task at a time is the best way to get something done quickly, but sometimes we need mindless tasks to do while we’re doing something else — like listening to a podcast while washing dishes or folding laundry. Know what tasks can be done mindlessly and which ones require full concentration so you can maximize your focus on important projects and get more done in less time.
Reward yourself for each small change you make and continue to give yourself positive reinforcement as you move forward, and enjoy the journey!
There are so many changes that happen after your spouse dies, leaving you alone to take care of your family alone – while grieving! Knowing that you’ve taken the impetus to change a routine that isn’t helping you is momentous.
Moving forward, one small, significant step at a time can change your life. Incredibly.
If you ever need support getting the tools and resources you need to start making these necessary changes, contact me.
This is what I do – help widows find their beautiful, inspired lives again while solo parenting.
You’ve got this.