Getting off That Treadmill

Have you ever had one of those days when you’ve asked yourself: “Why am I doing this”? Do you hate Mondays and hang out for Fridays? Or do you say to yourself: it’s not forever, and the money is good”. If work has lost it’s meaning for you, and your care factor is hovering close to zero, then you can join the thousands of other people who are endlessly running on the treadmill.

Being on the treadmill is an insidious condition – people are endurance athletes when it comes to running on this particular machine. It’s not hard to build up stamina, in fact there is a simple 3-step formula that will guarantee your ongoing success:

Step 1: go to work each day
Step 2: complete all activities and tasks
Step 3: show all the acceptable outward signs of participation and enthusiasm

then repeat ad infinitum……

Inwardly you might be having a conversation like: Are you serious? This is so boring, or No, not again!

The problem with the treadmill is that it never slows down or turns off unless the person operating it presses the Stop button (or fails to complete Steps 1 to 3 successfully). It’s the same with our lives – nothing changes unless we actively choose to do something different.

The ability to jump off the treadmill takes work, and courage. Often we think it’s easier to keep doing what we are doing than to think about how to make a change. But each of us has the power to make a different reality – after all, we made the one that we’re in now didn’t we?.

Recognise that you’re on the treadmill.
This is the first and most important step. Being on the treadmill often means doing things on autopilot. By ignoring how we feel, we are able to continue with our endurance session. Once you allow yourself to acknowledge that you’re not that crazy about where you are, then you will be motivated to make a change.

Get some support
Human beings don’t like change, so jumping off the treadmill into an uncertain place is usually not an option. In today’s world there are all sorts of people who can help you sort through some different options - coaches, career counselors, mentors, business people and so on. Connect with someone who can support you as you make your transition.

Springclean your mind
When we are on the treadmill, we are usually reacting to things going on around us, rather than acting out of choice. So make an active choice to take a rest, a vacation, talk it out with someone you trust, blow off steam, do whatever it takes to get some perspective about your situation. Just this simple step will make you feel more in control, and can help to streamline the energy you'll need for the changes ahead.

Take responsibility
The reality is that you can’t change anyone else’s behaviour but your own. So now is a good time to stop blaming others for what’s happened to you. You are where you are today because of choices and decisions that you made. Accept that, and choose to make decisions in the future that take you towards a more satisfying life.

Take a long term view
When was the last time you thought about where you personally wanted to be in 5 or 10 years time? We get so caught up in “doing” things - for the business, for work, for others – things we think we should be doing, that we take no time to consider what we really want.

Take the time to think what’s really important to you, and where you would like to be. What are the core values that you'd like to base your life around? What do you love to do or to be? What gives you a sense of purpose?

If we haven’t allowed ourselves to think along these lines, the answers may not come immediately. For the impatient and perfectionist people reading, this is not a test – there is no pass or fail. So don’t treat it like one. The more you know about yourself, the more you will be able to understand how you would like you life to look.

Design a life, not a lifestyle
Do you know what the difference is between having a life and maintaining a lifestyle? A lifestyle is something we are told we need - by society, advertisers, and parents. Life's luxuries, although nice to have, can be expensive financially and often tempt us to stay on the treadmill to pay for them! Perhaps the energy spent maintaining a lifestyle might be better used turning your life into an expression of who you are. A lifestyle buys comfort. A life buys satisfaction and contentment.

It’s never too late to jump off the treadmill, so why not get started today. Life is way too short to be a slave to that particular machine.

About the Author

Megan Tough, director of Action Plus, works with small business professionals who are ready to do more than ‘just get by’. Increase your income - decrease your stress! To learn more and to sign up for more FREE tips and articles like these, visit

Megan Tough