Life can be a bit much sometimes, and when it hits us hard we aren’t always best equipped to cope with it. Other times you just don’t know where you want to go next. You don’t know what you want the next chapter in your life to say. Life is always changing and as a human-being, you have to change with it because it continues to change whether you life it or not. However, being human does mean that getting stuck every once in a while is inevitable and although it might feel like you’ll be stuck forever, you will eventually find a way out of the rut and your life will go on. A rut is only temporary.
Stuck in a rut is a phrase we hear all the time, but do we actually know what it means? According to Dictionary.com ‘in a rut’ is defined as being “in a settled or established habit or course of action, especially a boring one.” It’s kind of like swimming – if you’re not moving then you’re sinking. You can lay on your back and float for a while but you stay in the same spot, and it’s hard to keep yourself afloat after a while. If you don’t make the effort to move forward then eventually you’ll end up drowning. Being stuck in a rut is like floating on water; not as relaxing though, I can assure you.
How do you know if you’re stuck in a rut?
There are a number of tell-tale signs that you’re stuck in a rut, and speaking from personal experience, these are a few that spring to mind.
- The highlight of your day is sleeping – been day dreaming about a nap to help pass the time until bedtime?
- You have a list as long as your body of things to do that you can’t make a dent in
- And when you do cross something off your list, you don’t feel a sense of achievement, you’re just hit with the overwhelming sense that you’re never going to finish it
- You have so many creative ideas but you can’t put them into action
- You’ve had enough of feeling tired, stressed and unmotivated but don’t know how to stop
- There’s never enough time in the day to do anything
- And when you finally allocate yourself a bit of ‘free-time’, all you want to do is sleep because you’re too tired to do anything else.
- All of your days blur together – what day is it today again?
- Can’t stop thinking about getting away? Not on holiday, but to somewhere like Neverland so you can pause time and not have to grow up
- Even though you know the only person that can help you is yourself, you still feel like you can’t do anything about it.
Why do you get stuck in a rut?
There is one thing that all ruts have in common. Fear. More specifically the fear of failure. If you’re stuck in a rut then it more than likely means you’re afraid you aren’t capable of pulling off the next step in your life without messing it up. It’s a lot easier to accept failure when you’ve put in very little effort. So you float instead of trying to swim to shore. In other words, if you don’t exert any effort then you have nothing to fail.
Related: Expressive writing therapy
What do you do to pull yourself out?
More often than not regret is the reason you can’t move forward. Being so obsessed with something that happened in the past can stop your from seeing what’s up ahead. But what happens if you make peace with your regrets? Constructively assessing how/why something might have happened. Instead of beating yourself up for what happened, learn from the situation. Think about what you did and why you did it and what you would do differently in the future to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes again.
Step outside your comfort zone
Your comfort zone is where you feel safe and far away from failure. Sometimes the way out of your rut and to step out of your comfort zone and embrace unknown and uncomfortable experiences. But often with this comes nerves and anxiety. Understand the boundaries of your comfort zone and then push past them. Discover something outside of what you’re comfortable with, learn a bit about it and create a plan to make it happen.
Set attainable goals
Remember the list of things to do that’s as long as your body? Bin it. Overwhelming yourself is not the way to get out of a rut. Setting yourself unrealistic goals is only going to contribute to the idea that you’re a failure. Know yourself enough to know what you realistically can achieve in a day. Be ruthless about how your talents match up with the goals you set. If you have to start with setting the bar low to build up your motivation then so be it. But make sure the bar continues to rise.
Stop doubting yourself
Self-doubt is a lack of confidence in yourself and your own abilities. When you live in self-doubt you constantly second-guess yourself and when you’re constantly second-guessing yourself you stop attempting things through fear you aren’t good enough. Self-doubt and fear are best friends so it’s easy to see why they make the perfect recipe for being stuck in a rut.
We’re hardwired to be pessimistic so telling yourself you can’t do it is a lot easier than believing that you can. Ask yourself “why am I not good enough to do this?” and if you can’t come up with a reasonable answer then challenge yourself to boss the task. Love yourself just a little bit more and let yourself attempt to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in you, then why would other people?