Do One Thing.
A few years ago, I was stuck in a rut, the kind of rut that can change the trajectory of the rest of your life for the worse.
I wasn’t healthy physically, emotionally or mentally and I had no one to blame but myself. I drank too much, ate junk food for every meal, didn’t exercise and barely slept more than a few hours a night.Granted, as a Mom of a new baby and a toddler, it’s kind of par for the course; nonetheless, I was spiraling.
Every bad decision I made was compounded by a series of more bad decisions and so it went every day, every hour, for months:
Wake up still tired, hit snooze, consider calling in sick, wish I hadn’t stayed up watching that show on Netflix, wondering why I had to drink the entire bottle of wine, drag out of bed, barely put on clean clothes, barely brush my teeth, not worry about the plan for the rest of the day and just fall into work looking and feeling like garbage.Stomach churning from the wine, head throbbing.Drink a little water, take some Advil, drink a pot of coffee just to level out.Squeak through the workday, become ravenously hungry from not eating breakfast, go straight to fast food, drink a giant diet soda as if that’s somehow better.A few hours later crave sugar, ‘treat myself’ for no reason at all with dessert.Dinner is spoiled so how about one or two bags of full butter popcorn with a long movie, stay up way past my bedtime for the next day. Maybe just one glass of wine to ‘help me sleep’.
I was overweight, fatigued, depressed and unfulfilled.I was just going through the motions of life.
Every time I’d complain to my husband about work, my weight, everything, he’d try his best to be supportive.“What can I do to help?” he’d ask.And the answer was always…”Nothing.”
That was, in all honesty, the correct answer.Nothing.
How could I tell someone how to help when I didn’t even know what I wanted? I mean, I already had everything I ever wanted!
A loving husband, a successful media career, great kids.
I struggled with not being able to be happy with what I had.It seemed like everyone around me was coping so much better than I was. Everyone else seemed to be so grateful having so much less.
I asked myself almost every day…What would make me happy?
How exactly does someone get out of a rut?
I wasn’t about to go all ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and abandon everything to ‘find myself’ in some far away land.
I needed a solution that wouldn’t hurt the ones I love.
I thought about diet and exercise and how that might be a good place to start, but which diet, which exercise?Should I do Crossfit or boxing or bootcamp or take dance lessons? Should I try Paleo or Keto or vegan or what was that new one the girl at work mentioned?What about weight watchers? There was the needles with HCG or maybe I could just do surgery and be done with it…but what about the money that would cost me?Ugh…the money…I need to make more money.
It was all just too much.Every time I thought about about the daunting task ofattempting to get out of my rut, I always ended up at the same conclusion…do nothing instead.Nothing is easiest.Nothing is attainable. Nothing doesn’t scare me.
Inevitably, there came a time when my free fall ended but only because I hit the floor.
And all of a sudden, as if the decision had been made for me, I decided doing something was better than … nothing.
I decided I would do exactly ONE thing.Even the idea of just one thing exhausted me, but I was desperate.
I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier the next morning so I could sit on the floor and meditate before work.I didn’t like meditating. I didn’t really know how to meditate.But if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then my one thing had to be something unfamiliar, uncomfortable even.
The next morning, I accomplished my one thing.I rolled my eyes the whole time as I counted my breath in and out on the cold bathroom floor, but I did it. My thoughts raced about how tired I was, how much I had to do, was that the baby crying?, was my gut always this big when I sat down?, back to breathing now…. in….and out….., this is stupid, I can’t stop my thoughts, this is pointless, I wonder what time it is, I can’t be late again, if I’m late what will I say happened?, I need coffee…
But…I did it.20 minutes of meditating.
By the time I had made my coffee at 3:30am, I had already finished one thing I set out to do.And since I didn’t have a long list of expectations for my day, I couldn’t ruin the glory.
The next day, I decided to do it again.
By the end of the week, my one thing turned into two.
By the end of the month, I had changed my life.
The meditation was quiet time with myself I hadn’t had. My thoughts became clearer and my days were starting on a better note. My creativity increased and my need for so much junk decreased. I started craving healthier foods which turned into healthier groceries which turned into better sleep and dare I say…exercise.
My one thing turned into dozens of things, every day, every hour.
I made that appointment for a physical with the doctor.I got the mammogram I had been putting off. I did the dental cleaning I hadn’t done.I started to realize this whole fad phrase of ‘self care’ was nothing more than doing just one thing…for yourself…even if you didn’t feel like it.
The following months and years, I started a podcast, founded a non-profit organization, started exercising and eating right, stopped drinking, lost a bunch of weight, got professional photos taken and became a brand.I sold my home and bought a smaller, more affordable one.I got a financial planner and put money goals in writing. We got a living Will done with a lawyer to ensure our children’s futures.We paid off all our debt, started an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses and lived below our means.I totally revamped my resume and even voluntarily started working on Saturday mornings for experience.
I said yes to everything.I said yes even when I didn’t want to.Every little ‘one thing’ that I did always seemed to lead me to another thing and another and before I knew it, I was the person I wanted to be.I was a better Mom, a better wife, a better sister and daughter.I was a positive influence in others’ lives and no longer a black hole of negativity.
I had actually figured out the answer to the question I never thought I’d be able to stop asking myself, ”How does one get out of a rut?”
I can say from personal experience it’s not to do nothing and it’s not do everything…
The answer to ‘How to get out of a rut’ is:
“Just do one thing.”
One thing is something anyone can do. And the rest will come.