Falling into a rut is easy. All you have to do is go on your merry way through life — comfortable and content — until you suddenly realize there's really neither an up or down anymore. It's the digging your way out of that rut that's the slightly tougher part. Because you need a challenge. The good kind, that is. The kind that inspires, fuels, motivates, and pushes you out of bed each morning to make the most of that day, no matter how great or how crappy things are going.
When you're in a rut, that challenge just isn't there anymore. It's faded into something you can't quite see the point of anymore. Things become too easy or boring or just unfulfilling. A rut can be attributed to any aspect of your life, really — from your relationship to your career — when everything is so routinely fixed and established that it becomes dull and unpromising.
Alright, alright — enough with this hopeless Negative Nancy vocab. The good news is, when you fall into a rut, there's always a handy little ladder to help you out. I promise it's there, you just have to put in the effort to look hard enough. Yes, under all the dirt and soil that may have you feeling pretty packed in, but it's there. Here are seven things you need to do to help you find that ladder and climb your way out of that silly rut.
1. Prepare Yourself For The Positive
Of course, to get out of a rut, you have to want to get out of it. And yes, that means properly preparing yourself to do so. If you're only thinking negatively or you don't see any goals for yourself, you might as well be drafting up your self-prophecy with no light at the end of the tunnel. Because then what are you working toward, really? Embrace that it'll take a little extra effort, but acknowledge that this is the only real way out.
2. Remember What You Want
As Executive Director of Tech Wildcatters and leadership writer Molly Cain pointed out to Forbes, there are times in our lives when we can definitely accidentally slip into coasting auto-pilot mode, which is one of the first red flags of a rut. Things are convenient and we get comfortable, but it's important to note when this comfort turns into boredom or even unhappiness. Cain pointed out a solution eCommerce strategist Ron Rule recommended, which is to remember what you want. That's a surefire way to recharge and kick yourself into gear by putting in that extra effort where it's lacking. Keeping your goals in mind, whether that be in love, career, hobbies and passions, or just overall well-being is important so you can reflect on whether or not you're still actively working toward them or even if you still want those same things.
3. Embrace Regret
This may sound like the complete opposite of all advice that's ever been given to you, but this could especially be helpful if you're in a rut because of something that happened that's put you there. According to Psychology Today, studies show that counterfactual thinking can actually help motivate you to act. They describe this as the process of constructively assessing how something might have happened. It prompts the following empowering train of thought: If X happens (or doesn't happen), I will do Y. It allows you to envision a positive alternative that will help you get to a solution.
4. Remind Yourself That You're In Control
We can sometimes forget that in pretty much all cases, we are directly in control of our lives. We make the decisions that constitute how we feel, what we do, where we go, who we're with, etc. And in the same way, we have the power to break whatever unwanted cycle we're in. As pointed out on Reliable Plant, to get unstuck, you have to be 100 percent responsible for your actions. Cain also shared a piece of advice yoga instructor Denise Dougherty reminded her students: you have the control to change your path. Simple, yet so true. Even if it seems like it's only on a small scale, or puts us a little out of our comfort zone, or may even cause us to (unintentionally) hurt someone's feelings, there is no reason you should allow yourself to be dragged on in something you don't want or makes you feel stuck.
5. Know When To Work On Your Strengths And Weaknesses
Or, another great way to think of this is redefining your purpose, as Dr. Tracy Thomas told Mind Body Green. Connecting to who you are and applying those natural abilities that should be driven by that purpose and passion. Cain's personal trainer and Director of Camp Gladiator, Jonathan Pylant shared a great piece of advice that looks into ways to redefine this purpose by focusing on your strengths and weaknesses. He said that in areas of giftedness, you should work on your strengths, while in areas of character, you should work on your weaknesses. This helped him avoid getting in a rut altogether and continue growing, both professionally and personally.
When honing in on your strengths, you'll know what to prioritize so you don't get overwhelmed by the wrong things. Likewise, you should always be working on yourself and make sure you're doing the best that you could be doing for you. At any rate, constantly check in with where you stand in your life, how you feel about it, and act on that accordingly. This helps avoid getting into that mindset of just letting things happen.
5. Check In To Your Surroundings
If you're surrounded by people, or with a person who seems to be bringing you down and is the root cause for most of the negative standstill in your life, that's definitely something that needs to be changed. When you've fallen into a rut, it's also easy to lose sight of where you are or what's even going on around you. You blindly accept things as OK, when maybe they aren't so OK. Because there's nothing there that pushes you or even so much as moves you anymore. So give yourself that little wakeup call and see what's good — if it's good at all.
7. Talk About It
Yes, you should talk about it! In every problematic situation in your life, communication should pretty much be considered your go-to key to unlocking your way out. Talk about it with a friend, family member, and especially with your significant other if you feel that your relationship's hit a bit of a plateau. By just letting it out and exchanging ideas, you're more likely to come to a creative solution and just feel better about it overall. Or as pointed out on Lifehack, you'll be surprised at how any short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.
So grab your shovels — or I guess your ladders, for the sake of this overdrawn metaphor's consistency — and climb your way up and out of that rut. Because there's no reason you should be there.
Images: Giphy (7); Pexels