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Shake up your life

8 tips to re-energize, refresh and restyle a stale routine

We all know the feeling: You’re reading a book, and suddenly you realize you have no idea what happened on the past two pages. We often live the same way, skimming through days in a haze of habit. Unfortunately, we can’t flip back the pages of our calendars like the pages of a book.

Spring inspires us to sweep away stale routines, rejuvenating our lives with a fresh outlook and new goals that boost our energy, uplift our mood and enrich our lives with meaning. Do you want to runa marathon? Play an instrument? Start a business? Speak another language? Plant a garden? Spend more quality time with loved ones? It doesn’t take as much time as you might think. Here are seven ways to shake up your life now:

Identify restlessness
People can tell when their lives are restless, stale and unfulfilling because they feel restless,stale and unfulfilled. However, because it’s so uncomfortable to feel this way for an extended period of time, we will find a way to distract ourselves,” says Kimberly Kingsley, energy coach and author of The Energy Cure. Bad habits like overeating, excessive Facebooking, or stirring up relationship drama distract us from the restlessness that tugs at our coats like a child trying to catch our attention.

One solution is mindfulness: “paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment,” says Breon Michel, a corporate and community mindfulness trainer. “Mindfulness is like a defogger ... We become aware that the way we’re living our life on autopilot isn’t working for us anymore.”

Choose your goals
Once you decide to pursue new goals, the world is your oyster. The trouble is, it’s an intimidatingly big oyster. Should you take up Zumba or try voluntourism in Zambia? First, do nothing. “Pause, stop, reflect, introspect. Create space to simply be,” Michel says. When the waters are still, notice what rises to the top of your wishes and what sinks into the silt of low priorities. “Usually a person knows exactly what they need to do,” Kingsley says. “Life energy knows what it needs to expand and communicates that through our intuition—simple gut feelings.”

Make a bucket list of things you enjoy or want to try, prioritizing those you’d like to pursue now versus later. Consider each facet of your life, says Michel—social, health, career—and ask, “Am I happy with this part of my life? If not, what do I want to change? What’s my vision for making that part of my life more fulfilling?”

Take risks
In 2008, Kendra Beelen weighed the risks of financial instability and crazy hours against the chance to wake up each day doing something she loves. She considered the quote “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” She started KGB Fitness, a lifestyle fitness coaching company. Soon, she’ll take another risk: relocating from the East Coast to Los Angeles to bring community fitness to neighborhoods lacking health resources.

Talk to anyone who’s taken a risk—started a company, quit a job and moved to another country—and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single one who regrets it. “The benefit of taking risks in life,” Beelen says, “is having a life you love living”—not to mention strengthening self-respect and confidence. Taking risks doesn’t mean recklessness, Beelen says: “I am very type A and feel my risks are mostly planned and calculated.” Nor is risk-taking a one-time shot; it’s a mindset, a daily lifestyle. “Plan each day to try something new,” Beelen advises. “Risk daily to live more fully.”

Don’t overwhelm yourself
Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours, proved it doesn’t take long to set a goal and acquire a new skill. He learned computer programming, ukelele, yoga and windsurfing—each in just 20 hours—while working and raising a newborn with his wife. His secret? Dedicating 45 minutes every day for a month to practicing the skill. “Pick one, and only one, new skill you wish to acquire,” he advises in his book. “Put all of your spare focus and energy into acquiring that skill, and place other skills temporarily on hold.”

Shake up your morning routine
Instead of waking up and instantly turning on the computer, “insert even a five-minute pause in the morning to be quiet and still and follow your breath,” Michel says. “That can really be a springboard for us for the rest of the day.”

“Adopt a daily energizing ritual—something that allows you to receive energy in this world of frantic busyness,” Kingsley advises. “For me, this is meditation and yoga; for others, it may be walking, gardening, journaling, playing an instrument.”

Re-energize your health
Don’t go to the gym simply because others do. “I recommend acting out of inspiration, not obligation,” Kingsley advises. Would you rather try tennis? Rock-climbing? Dance? Sign up for lessons or find a Meetup® group for beginners. “Experiment,” Michel says. “This is the laboratory of your life.”

“Experiment. This is the laboratory of your life." – Breon Michel

Shift your career perspective
At the end of each workday, identify two actions that made you feel proud, alive or happy, Michel suggests. When we see meaning in what we had considered mindless tasks, “we feel like our heart is more connected to our work. We can see it matters and feel re-energized.” On the other hand, if you know it’s time to move on in your career but that’s not yet financially feasible, begin researching your desired field. Find a mentor, class or volunteer program to determine if that path is right for you and what steps to take to make it your reality.

Refresh your relationships
“Relationships get stale when we perform routines without being present,” Kingsley says. “Presence brings energy into whatever we are doing, thereby nourishing the relationship.” Instead of a throw away “How was your day?” Michel recommends occasionally devoting 30 minutes to being present and supportive with a loved one, taking turns asking questions like, “What’s working well in your life right now? What are your struggles?”

Though we usually fixate on problems, faults and obligations, focusing on positives and successes does more to nourish relationships. Michel recommends “active constructive responding”—making a concerted effort to inquire about and celebrate others’ good news. Finally, she adds, “Make doing things you love just as much of a priority as everything else on your to-do list.”