Your Days Feel Like They Repeat Themselves

First, let me explain the cultural reference. Groundhog’s Day is a terrible movie in which the main character has to repeat his day over and over again. I remember throwing a tantrum when I watched it because of the utter insanity of watching the same scene for two hours. The only redeeming quality is its use as a metaphor when my leaders feel like they’re in a funk. And for that, it’s worth watching. (*One of my clients admitted to watching it several times. I don’t understand, but I still love him).

Work feels like Groundhog Day sometimes, regardless of your role. I’ve spoken to people who routinely handle complex situations, but even the challenges can feel redundant. The conversation goes like this ‘nothing is wrong. It’s just that nothing is exciting. I feel blah.” People aren’t entirely burned-out, nor are they depressed in a way that interferes with their daily functioning. Instead, there is nothing to distinguish one day from another. Even when there is surface-level variability, the pattern of variation is the same.

The Importance of Adding Variety to Your Day

While Groundhog Day has always been a threat to our happiness quotient, COVID-19 has further limited our options for adding diversity to our lives. Hence, it’s helpful to look for even small ways to change up the week for you and your team. When you’re looking at your week, you want to see highlights and challenges rather than complete predictability. Here’s what you can do to stop Groundhog Day:

1.    If you’ve experienced a “funk” for several months, see a therapist or your medical doctor. You may be struggling with mild depression. If so, it’s very treatable and you are doing yourself a disservice by continuing to muscle through on your own.

2.    Look for small ways to add variety to your week. Do simple things like changing what you eat or drink, getting a new shirt, or carving time for Happy Hour. Look for simple things that will accommodate your schedule rather than adding additional stress.

3.    Take a day, or even half a day—to get out and do something different on the weekend. Even if it isn’t as fun as you anticipate, the change in routine will elevate your mood the following week.

4.    Never, ever delete your exercise. You can change it up, but don’t stop it. You need the mood benefits to carry you through the funk.

5.    If you are struggling with ideas for adding freshness, talk to your partner, colleague, or friend. Sometimes the act of describing the problem out loud will bring insight; other times your conversational partner will have ideas.

6.    Don’t over-pathologize. Everyone experiences Groundhog Day sometimes. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you or that you are losing your motivation. Take the funk as a cue that you’ve been working hard, being productive, and that you’ve neglected the “fun” part of the equation.

7.    On the other hand, if you’re beyond “funk” and struggling with burn-out, realize that it will take more than one vacation for you to reset and feel good again—more on this in my book, Relational Genius, Chapter 4. If you’re not a reader, use the table of contents at the front for quick reference.

8.    Find ways to mix things up for your team. Better yet, talk about it in a group discussion so that everyone can brainstorm and get re-energized together.

9. The above suggestions seem common-sense and simple, right? Don’t underestimate their power. Sometimes Groundhog Day can make us forget that tiny shifts in direction can land us in a different destination.