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In a rut? Try to set new goals

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Climb out of rut and set new goals

Q: I feel old and sad. I don't look like I once did, I haven't accomplished some things I wanted to accomplish by now, I don't have as much money to do the things I once enjoyed doing (travel), and I just feel very blah. I look at old pictures of myself and see a much more energetic, fun and happy person. How can I snap out of this?

Depressed

A: The description you just gave could be of anyone — like, ah, me, for instance. But I don't feel very blah. It is so often a matter of perspective, and a sense that you're working toward something that's valuable to you, versus an accounting of butt-saggage and money-drainage and gold-star deprivation.

So make some new goals out of the raw material of what you actually have, versus what you think you should have.

If you can't find energy to make even small changes, then consider that it's not about perspective so much as brain chemistry. As always, the rut that resists your every effort to maneuver out of it is one to discuss with your doctor.

Don't let seating arrangements sour you on future festivities

Q: Friends invited me to their out-of-town wedding, without a plus-one. I went, looking forward to seeing our mutual friends and celebrating the couple together. But, the couple seated me with none of the people I knew . . . for an uninterrupted, 10-course dinner that lasted nearly seven hours. By the time we were allowed to get up and talk to anyone else, it was all I could do to drag my butt back to the hotel.

On top of everything, I'm on a very limited budget so it additionally stinks to know I sank this year's vacation money into one night of interminable, agonizing small talk.

I assume it's totally out of line for an invited guest to make demands about seating arrangements. Does that mean the only courteous way to avoid this in the future is to decline weddings to which I'm invited solo? I am usually so happy to do stuff on my own — but "on my own" typically doesn't mean "trapped for the duration of a trans-Atlantic flight with 11 people you don't know, but who all know one another."

Stranded

A: Please write this off as one bad deal, and don't apply its lessons to future events. I'm sorry — I've been to that wedding once.

That said, you do have some options for next time.

First, when an event is going to wipe out your vacation money, ask yourself which will haunt you longer: skipping a milestone, or killing yourself to show up for a dud? There are friends worth untold hassles to support, and then there are the rest. It's okay to give your polite regrets for the expensive or otherwise inconvenient invitations from the rest.

Second, with your closest friends, it is okay to make non-high-maintenance, non-guilt-inducing inquiries about events you plan to attend solo. For example, you can remind someone that since you're without wingman, any indulgence on the seating chart will be rewarded with your eternal gratitude, possible karmic notice and a bottle of something nice.

In a rut? Try to set new goals 11/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 25, 2011 3:30am]

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