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Stop the Hamster Wheel

On Tuesday I had a presentation to give at one of our accounts in Emeryville. They had an all hands that morning at 9:30 which was convenient because we were switching their service from a micro market to vending that same day.

The presentation was important because we wanted to make sure employees who were used to having the market were excited about their vending (even if it is considered a downgrade). Although vending offers few shopping selections than markets, our vending machines are pretty cool in that they:

  • Take multiple forms of payment including: credit/debit, cash, mobile pay

  • Have a built in loyalty rewards program through PayRange

  • Operate on a cloud based system, ensuring items that are popular are always replenished

The part that wasn’t so cool is that I needed to be on location by 9am to set up the presentation and free samples (life rule #1: never have meetings without food). That might not seem like a rough start time but with Bay Area traffic that meant I needed to leave my home by 6am.

I know…poor baby.

But wait, my sob story gets sadder.

I haphazardly got ready, I hustled loading my car at work and was on schedule, against all odds, to have enough time to stop at my favorite coffee shop on the way.

The traffic and mysterious rerouting GPS gods worked in my favor to get to me to Boot & Shoe Service with an extra 15 minutes to spare, they even landed me a front row parking space. But…the coffee gods and traffic gods must be waring because the saddest thing happened….Boot & Shoe Service is now only open for dinner, their café, home of the world’s best orange currant scone, and the keeper of some of my favorite Ryan moments is closed indefinitely.


I tell you this, not only to officially announce that I’m in mourning but also because later that day, after the presentation, I was speaking to one of our customers, another coffee lover, and telling her how sad I was about this horrible news.

She was sympathetic but then said, “you could look at it this way, now you get to have fun finding your new favorite coffee shop, you live in a great place for really good coffee.”

She was so full of life and joy when she said it that I didn’t even mind that she said it. It didn’t annoy me at all that she thought it would be fun to replace something I loved, because she was right.


Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and feel like my life is on repeat: I’m currently living in my childhood bedroom, I’ve had the same job for 10 years and I feel like I make the same mistakes over and over again.

I can choose to look at that list and get annoyed, feeling like a hamster on a wheel or I can free myself from the mental cage that I’ve placed myself in. I can choose to see what has changed, the lessons I’ve learned and enjoy the process.

Rachel Hollis, in her book Girl Wash Your Face, writes “you don’t see things as they are: you see things through the lens of what you think and feel and believe. Perception is reality…”

If that’s true, than I want to start perceiving things in a better light. I can cry because Boot & Shoe Service is closed or I can celebrate that I get to find a new favorite spot and that I still have my favorite coffee date to go explore with.

One Practical Thing to Stop the Hamster Wheel Feeling:

I started completing the things on my list. If my perception of myself is that I never get anything done than I need to start finishing projects. If I'm sick of facing the same problems every day I need to find solutions.

I've been in a serious rut these last few weeks, annoyed because things aren't getting done fast enough by own definition.

So this week I figured enough was a enough. There are a lot of things I can't control but there are a lot that I can but I don't. For instance the following things have been on my list for weeks:

1. End Munchery subscrition (how did that even happen?)

2. Get check on automatic deposit

3.Clean off porch

4 Clean off shelf in garage

5. Paint office

6. Create cleaning station at work

7. Print wedding photos ('s been almost a year?!)

8. Mail Eve her salt & pepper shakers (that's a fun story)

The list goes on but I'll stop here.

Every day I've thought about these things and every day I haven't taken care of them only adding to my frustration. But this week I started to make progress, small as it was, and it felt good. It felt like confidence in myself regained, it felt like room to breathe, because sometimes all of those little things can become suffocating.

#1-4 are checked off the list and rather than leaving the rest of the list to chance I'm sorting through the things that have weighed me down.

I've written EVERYTHING down that I can think of that I "need" to do. On the plane to Austin I'm going through the list and deciding what really is important and what I've made up to be important or worse think should be important. If after it's weighed I find that I really do care about it I'm scheduling it in and keeping my promises to myself. If it's weighed and comes up lacking I'm going to cross it off the list for good. If you're overwhelmed, by your to do list I encourage you to do the same.

One final note: once you start crossing things off the list try really hard not to add more to it unless it's REALLY important to you.

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