Far from the standard career advice, I suggested he plant a garden. I felt he needed an inspiring win to get him moving again.
He was excited, but moreso than I realized. He emailed me today that he was up all night thinking about his garden.
If starting a garden intrigues you, here are some suggestions:
Plant in winter for a spring crop: Allstar gourmet lettuce mix, Estella Rijnveld tulips. (The latter won't work in climates that don't get frost in winter.)
Plant in early spring after last frost: Early Girl tomatoes (matures early,) Big Beef tomatoes (matures later,) Tendersnax carrots, Honey Select corn, Uproar Rose zinnia.
Plant in late spring/early summer for a late summer/fall crop: Packman broccoli, Super Sugar Snap Pea-6-feet tall, mildew resistant) or Snow Pea Norli (2 feet tall), Magellan Coral zinnia.
To create a good environment for growing, pick a sunny patch of soil. Unless the soil is very clayey or very sandy, just spread 2 to 3 inches of a good compost and a handful of general-purpose granular fertilizer over each square yard of soil and spade it in thoroughly. If your soil is very clayey or sandy, do the above but you might want to lay a raised bed over it. That's simply a box made, for example, of 2 x 8 to 2 x 12 untreated heart redwood or cedar with metal corners to connect the pieces. Those are available at any hardware or home improvement store. Fill that with 2/3 garden soil, 1/3 compost plus a scant handful of fertilizer per square yard.