Along whatever path you're traveling on, there are bound to be obstacles. Whether you're thriving or stifled, you're susceptible to getting stuck in a rut. That's the thing about ruts, they just sneak up on you. And what might have brought you there in the past might not be what's keeping you there in the present. It's a perfect storm of freezing elements, leaving you immobilized by heavy questions you might not be ready to ask yourself. But you're the only person who can pull yourself out of it in any sort of permanent way. So it's important to really take a look around and within and be open to some critical analysis.
You won't find the upward mobility in that extra glass of wine, you won't fill the hole with a new relationship, you won't restart your heart at a skydiving ranch and you won't lessen its grip by ignoring it. "It" — the rut — is your mind's response to stagnation. And it's actually a good thing, to be aware that you're in a rut. It means that your brain is active and your passion is still burning. It means that you have high standards for yourself and want the most out of life. And most importantly it means that you've had enough and you're ready to change.
So, here are a few things you can ask yourself when you feel stuck. There's no reason to have a mental breakdown or a hissy fit by the side of the road. You have all the tools you need.
What is no longer serving me?
Sometimes you just need to let things go. Don't stress out about how much time you've devoted to what's weighing you down. Just let go.
What is in the way of getting what I want?
Identify your obstacles and evaluate them one at a time.
How logical and attainable are my personal goals?
Magical thinking is fun, but it won't help you move forward. Get real with yourself and make small, manageable goals.
Are there any behavioral patterns I've fallen into?
Do you often find yourself in this same headspace? Take a look at your actions and map out their effects.
Who do I value in my life?
Make sure that you give positive energy and attention to the valuable people in your life. They will become irreplaceable as you get older.
What are my distractions?
Be honest with yourself. What or who has your attention that doesn't deserve it?
What have I done or not done to get here?
You're steering the ship. Trace your steps and figure out how you got there.
Am I making choices for myself or are other's opinions a factor?
Parents, significant others, friends — they matter, but you matter most.
What do I still feel passionate about?
What makes you feel alive? What brings you joy? If you know the answer, hold on to it and never let it go.
Have I put enough energy into all of my aspirations? Do I have regrets?
If there's something you've always wanted to try, try it now. It will only get harder over time.
Do I have a mental or physical space for expression?
It's so important to let it out. Vent to a friend, write in your journal, don't keep it inside.
Am I taking care of my body and mind?
Exercise, rest, pamper. Make sure your body is in fighting shape, you're going to need the strength.