Stuck in a Rut? Get Unstuck With These Strategies
There is nothing worse than feeling like every day is the same day.
Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch television, go to bed, wake up and do it all again - or some other pattern that we've gotten ourselves stuck in.
It's so numbing, and draining, and demotivating - and just, ugghh.
What happened to get you here? What happened to that beautiful life that you dreamed of? What happened to fun?
You used to have fun - remember?
Here are 4 ways to start digging yourself out of that rut:
1. Own it.
You can't change anything if you don't acknowledge it. Where are you feeling stuck? Is it your schedule, work, your relationship - all of it?
Do you even know?
Take a few minutes and jot down where you would like to see some changes. Be honest! Everyone goes through seasons of boredom, so don't beat yourself up about it.
But also remember, once you identify it, that you're the one that has the power to change it.
2. Take care of yourself!
I know, I'm a broken record here. But self-care is proven to be effective at making us feel better about ourselves and our lives.
It won't end your rut, but it can help you to feel energized and motivated, which can be the missing piece to moving towards change.
Remember, self-care isn't when you binge out on Netflix, and it doesn't mean spending a bunch of money on your hair and nails - it means doing the things that energize you. So take stock of what those things actually are before using your time and energy on things you don’t even enjoy.
3. Reach out for support.
You'd probably be surprised to hear how many of your friends/family feel the same way, or have gone through what you're experiencing. In fact, most of my practice is built up of people that are going through exactly this.
But support doesn't just mean call in your phone-a-friend. Support could also mean that you need to rally with like-minded individuals that will help motivate you to whatever is next. If your rut is career-wise, you could reach out to business owners or other professionals in your field, or get a mentor to help you get to the next level.
If you're looking for a complete career change, reach out for others that have done the same, or that are successful in the new career field you want.
And, of course, if your relationships are part of your rut - look for ways to make them better and more meaningful. What's missing? Or step back and look at the people on the edges your life, that you don’t know well, and actively engage the ones that you'd like to know better.
4. Set your expectations.
Give yourself some grace here. You didn't get here overnight, it was a series of choices that led here, so going to yoga for one day, or having coffee with a friend this week isn't going to fix your life. But pay attention to how you feel immediately after doing those things (or the things that you've chosen for self-care) - doing more of them could lead to the change that you're looking for.
The idea is that you consistently set up things that change up your routine. Things to look forward to, that you are planning towards.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut because the "now" we've built is building towards an ultimate dream. Work now, play later. That's a remarkable and admirable plan - but that philosophy can also lead to burnout.
You can work now, play later, and still give yourself permission to play a little now - just make sure that the play you're doing now is accounted for in your plan, too.
Of course, if you struggle with even identifying the cause of your rut, or feel like you've been trying to dig out for way too long, and nothing's working - you can reach out for professional help. Counseling can help with all kinds of unexpected things, and get you moving forward when you feel like you can't do it on your own.
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a counselor licensed to practice in South Carolina. She specializes in making relationships thrive – whether working on marriages, parenting, friendships, or conflict in the workplace. You can read more about her here.