Get off the Hamster Wheel

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Get off the Hamster Wheel

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Have you ever felt like you’re stuck on the hamster wheel – running as fact as you can and going nowhere?

Life can be seen as the sum total of all the choices we’ve ever made.  Every day we’re faced with hundreds of decisions – some inconsequential such as which brand of toothpaste to buy, some very important such as choosing a new career direction.

It is what it is….

Many people believe that our life is determined by fate and that there is no way to influence what happens to us.   This theory suggests that we have no choice in any events in our life.  Living by this philosophy can lead to giving up on life.  In this world, our life is little more than a piece of driftwood floating on the stream of fate.

The Smarter Choice

The alternative mindset is that we live in a world full of choices.   From this view point, the world fills with possibility.  In a given situation we face a huge range of options. If you are in a meeting with your boss, you could choose to answer her questions earnestly and to the best of your ability, you could choose to be challenging and stand up for your views, or you could choose to run out of the door screaming and never come back.   Each choice has potential consequences and inevitably some consequences may appear preferable to others.  However, we have the power to choose.

The Hamster Wheel

Even if we believe in choices, it is easy to close ourselves down to our options.  We can get into a routine or a rut.  Life becomes about survival.  Welcome to The Hamster Wheel.

Getting off the Hamster Wheel can give us tremendous energy and power.  It allows you to feel in control of a given situation.

Choose Life

Over time and through self-reflection we can learn to slow down and see the bigger picture.  Once we realise we have options, life stops being about survival and starts to become about possibilities.  We step off the hamster wheel.

When we are making deliberate choices it becomes easier to take responsibility for our actions.  When we choose and commit to our actions we can own the results regardless of the apparent level of success.   We make choices, we commit to them, we accept the results and we grow as a person.

Exercise – Getting off the Hamster Wheel

This exercise is a quick way to get off the hamster wheel and learn to see all the options.  You can work through it in advance to plan your biggest decisions by doing it every morning.  This also works in the moment when you feel stuck on the hamster wheel.  Asking these questions opens us up to the reality that we do face options.

  • What is the challenge that I face today / am facing right now?
  • What are my options?
  • What other choices could I make (regardless of how feasible they may be)?
  • What could I do if I had no fear?
  • Which choices best align with my values and who I am as a person?
  • What support can I get in taking this choice with power and committing to it?

Getting off the hamster wheel and choosing life is a tremendously powerful approach to life.   Try it today and see what happens.

Picture credit – Sebastien Davies (from Flickr – Creative Commons)

Related posts:

  1. Make 2010 your Best Year Yet – Six Steps to Lasting Change
  2. Find your Focus – The Power of Now
  3. Life's Too Short to be Ordinary
  4. Find your Focus in 2010 – Feel the Fear and Do it anyway
  5. The Lost Art of Being Happy – 5 Steps to a Happier Life


  1. Phil
    February 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    How do you remember about choice in a busy day? What difference does it make living in a world of choice? Let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. February 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil – Those are great questions. And I love what you say about slowing down, self-reflection, the bigger picture. Beautiful. Sometimes though, I get swept up by particular story that makes me forget that I have choices, and I’m not present enough to even ask the questions. So the key for me is to practice awareness first (the reflective part), and tune in to what is as often as possible. I’ve been doing some training with Michael Conforti of the Assisi Institute, and he talks about creating a strong frame in order to keep the stories that possess us at bay. I’m playing with that metaphor a lot these days, personally and in my work. I love the idea of building a strong house, a structure, to support our more life-affirming stories.
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Does the Truth Hurt? =-.

  3. February 19, 2010 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Everyday is an opportunity to make a difference, we just need to make a choice. If we go with the expectation of society, we will be no different from them–running on the same hamster wheel. :-)
    .-= Walter´s last blog ..Love eternal =-.

  4. Phil
    February 19, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Patty -

    Yes – stories can really distract us from the choices available. I do a lot of story work with my clients to look at how they see the world. Stories can constrain our action and limit our choices, or they can empower us. If we believe the story that we live in a world of choice and possibility that starts to manifest and we are able to act intentionally. Building that strong framework is powerful and then like a house we need to maintain that constantly. Great and helpful comment – thank you.


  5. Phil
    February 19, 2010 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Walter – you’re so right. Every day is an opportunity to make a difference. I have a principle that life is precious and se we shouldn’t waste it. Making choices affirms that and helps me to stay focused on the possibilities. Thanks for your comment.


  6. February 19, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Excellent post Phil.

    Knowing our value and living by them is key. Everytime I am faced with some choices, I check in to make sure my choice is resonant with me. I literally have the gut feeling of whether it is right or not for me.

    I would choose life over the hamster wheel anyday:-)

    But has anyone ever asked the hamster what he chooses?!
    .-= Arvind Devalia´s last blog ..How to be an Infectious Lover of Life and not Feel Guilty =-.

  7. February 19, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    PS Phil, you now have 186 subscribers:-)

    Good luck with reaching your February target.
    .-= Arvind Devalia´s last blog ..How to be an Infectious Lover of Life and not Feel Guilty =-.

  8. Phil
    February 19, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Legendary – thanks Arvind. I love your blog and the vision you have for the world. Thanks!

  9. Phil
    February 19, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Hmm – there are days when I have been that hamster and I really wish someone had asked me. I think a little compassion goes a long way for those rodents! Great comment, thanks Arvind!

  10. February 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Well Phil, as you know I’m a thorough advocate of choice and the power it heralds. Making choices it’s not easy and you can’t always make the right ones but I know personally I’d rather make them than be stuck in limbo! :-)
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..A Blog Post Crammed With Lots To Challenge Your Thinking =-.

  11. February 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I just wrote in my journal the questions to ask myself. This is good. I also think I shut down from having too many choices so this will really help.

  12. Phil
    February 20, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Tess – enjoy these questions – they are great for opening up possibilities. Possiblities = enjoyment!

  13. Phil
    February 20, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Amit – The Power of Choice is vital and you embody that! Thanks for the comment.

  14. February 22, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Great post Phil! The question that most resonates with me is “What could I do if I had no fear?” Fear’s the thing that usually gets me every time. But when I challenge my fear with this question, I instantly see past its loud screams and get to a happy and productive place.
    .-= Carly´s last blog ..What Does Passion Got to Do with Career Success? =-.

  15. Phil
    February 23, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Carly – spot on. Fear can keep us running round and round in circles. Once we put it on the shelf we step off the wheel and start taking life head on.

    Thanks for your comment!


  16. February 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I have found that I always feel better when I look forward to where I want to go and feel the alignment with it. Everything seems to fall into place. Sure there are times when things are hectic (like a hamster wheel) but if I stop for a moment and ‘re-align’ into more forward thinking, not only do I feel better, but life just seems to bring me that which I am have been wanting. Great post – I will be back for sure!

  17. Phil
    February 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Marie – stopping is a beautiful gift we can give ourselves. It opens up possibilities and reminds us we do have a choice. Please do come back soon!


2 Trackbacks

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