Inside: Here’s what to do if you’re stuck in a rut and how to get yourself out of it. Use these tips to help you move forward in your life.
Does life ever feel a little too boring?
Life isn’t supposed to be exciting all the time – let’s just be clear. But it isn’t supposed to be so mind-numbingly dull that you feel like you’re just going through the motions every day.
If you’re feeling totally bored by your current routine, can’t find any excitement in your job, and find yourself going through the same motions with your friends every single weekend… you might just be stuck in a rut.
And it’s time to get out!
What Does It Mean When You Are Stuck In a Rut?
The phrase “stuck in a rut” comes from when people rode around in wagons. Those wagon wheels would wear away the road until they created ruts: deep grooves in the dirt that held those wheels in place.
The ruts made it easy to stay on course but incredibly challenging to deviate from the path you were following.
We aren’t riding around in horse-drawn wagons anymore, but we’re still finding ourselves stuck in a rut, just like our ancestors did.
It’s way too easy to feel totally stuck and trapped in your current routine. Many of us wake up one day and have a moment of realization – that we’re going through the motions without actually feeling or thinking, just doing, almost mindlessly.
While routines are very helpful, they can also cause you to feel stuck if you continue doing the same things day in and day out without intention or purpose.
How to Recognize If I’m Stuck In a Rut
The first step to getting out of a rut is actually recognizing you’re stuck in a rut.
For some people, it can take months – even years – for that realization to sink in. Others are able to figure it out a bit faster. Take some time for self-reflection to figure out if you’re stuck in a rut.
There are a couple of things that can make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, like…
Negativity and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Some of us are really good at self-sabotage and manage to get ourselves stuck in a rut purely thanks to our negative mindset.
If you tell yourself your life is boring, and nothing exciting ever happens, and nothing ever changes… don’t be surprised when that’s what actually happens.
Clinging to negativity can help us feel safe, especially when we aren’t used to things going our way and don’t want to face disappointment. But we can easily send ourselves into a negative spiral and get stuck in a rut because we’ve told ourselves that’s where we should be.
“Your life is a reflection of your thoughts. If you change your thinking, you can change your life.” ~Brian Tracy
Feeling Victimized and Helpless
Many of us tend to feel like the victim. Life happens to us, not because of our actions.
The victim mindset is an easy one to embrace because it takes some of the blame off of you and allows you to shift it to some one or some thing else.
Fortunately, you aren’t helpless, and you don’t have to be a victim of your own life if you don’t want to.
Acknowledge the fact that you’re feeling helpless, accept the fact that you have the power to shift your mindset, and take small steps to make your life feel a little more exciting and a little less stuck.
“Stop giving away your power and realize that YOU alone choose your energy and your attitude and your mindset every day.” ~Mandy Hale
Some Common Signs You’re Stuck In a Rut
Not all ruts are created equal – and no two people are alike.
Because of that, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to know whether or not you’re actually stuck in a rut. Your goals, your routine, your mental state, and more come into play here.
While feeling stuck in a rut is a little different for everyone, watch for these telltale signs to look out for:
You feel unmotivated.
The things that used to excite you? If you’re stuck in a rut, those things might seem totally boring. If your interests, dreams, and goals no longer motivate you, ask yourself, “Why?”
You might be surprised to find you’re feeling a little stuck and need to shake things up or set some new goals.
You feel like you’re just going through the motions.
If it takes more effort than it should to get through the day, you might be feeling stuck in a rut. Your day-to-day routine might not necessarily be thrilling. Let’s face it, most people’s routines aren’t too exciting.
But generally speaking, you should be pretty happy as you go about your day. If you’re finding yourself more drained than satisfied, you may be stuck in a rut.
The days all feel the same.
If you’re constantly asking yourself, “What day is it?” you might just be stuck in a rut. Your day-to-day life shouldn’t be so monotonous and uneventful that you can’t tell one from the next.
If you’re struggling to find things to look forward to, you’re likely stuck in a rut.
Identify What Is Keeping You Stuck
Ready to get unstuck and move forward with your life? Getting out of a rut and back on track can be easier said than done. For many people, being stuck in a rut is an incredibly challenging situation to escape.
A good way to begin to tackle the problem is to do some self-reflection. Ask yourself a few questions. Get a journal and write out your thoughts.
When did you first feel like you were getting stuck in a rut? What is working well in your life – and what isn’t? Why do you feel like you simply cannot make the change you need to be happy?
You might find yourself experiencing one of a few common themes…
Being Comfortable Stuck In Your Rut
Some people are change-averse. Change isn’t exciting or novel. It’s scary, intimidating, filled with the unknown.
The fear of the unknown is one of the reasons so many people get stuck in a rut and stay there: they’re comfortable in their rut.
Life may not be exciting, but some people don’t want excitement. They want routine and predictability. And when you take that to the extreme, you can easily find yourself stuck in a rut and unable – or unwilling – to escape.
If you’re hesitant to make a change because you’re comfortable with your current position, it’s time to challenge yourself and step into your discomfort zone. It’s the only way you’re going to grow.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~Roy T. Bennett
Fears That Hold You Back From Getting Out of Your Rut
Not everyone stays stuck in a rut because they’re comfortable with where they’re at. Some people are ready to break free from the routine and shake things up – but they’re held back by fear.
Fear can be paralyzing. It can be irrational. And it can be all-consuming.
Maybe you’re afraid that getting unstuck and moving forward will lead to scary new challenges – things you aren’t ready to conquer.
Or maybe you fear that your friends and family won’t like you as much when you shake things up, test your boundaries, and push your limits.
Maybe you can’t even explain the fear you feel when you start to consider something new – but it’s there, and it’s something you can’t escape.
It’s time to overcome that fear, break free, and get out of that rut.
“There is no illusion greater than fear.” ~Lao Tzu
Allowing Past Experience to Hold You In Your Rut
Some of us get stuck in a rut thanks to our past experiences. Maybe your current job is the best one you’ve ever held, and after so many terrible experiences with old bosses, are too scared to make a change.
Maybe moving to a new city was the worst decision you ever made. Now you’re back in your hometown, too afraid to take another chance in case it just doesn’t work out again.
Maybe the fall-out from your last breakup was so traumatic you just can’t muster up the courage to leave your current relationship, even though you know it’s going nowhere.
If you allow your past experiences to hold you in your rut, it’s time to learn how to leave the past where it belongs – in the past.
Our past experiences do not reflect our futures, and we are capable of success even if we have failed in the past.
You’ll be amazed at what you can actually accomplish after you shake yourself out of your rut.
“When you let go, you create space for better things to enter your life.” ~unknown
Ways to Get Out of a Rut When Your Are Stuck:
The good news is – if you’re stuck in a rut, you can absolutely get out. You aren’t doomed to spend the rest of your life bored, sad, and doing the same old thing.
You can absolutely get unstuck. By shifting your perspective, focusing on the things you can control, and pushing yourself to try something new, you can take little steps to shift your reality and break free from the rut that’s been holding you back.
Keep yourself focused on the things you can control. Start by taking small steps. Get outdoors and breathe fresh air. Be patient with yourself as you work through this, but also push yourself to start taking action.
What to Do When You Are In a Serious Rut
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it can seem truly impossible to snap out of a rut. If you’ve been banging your head against the wall, struggling to figure out how to get unstuck psychologically, it might be time to get a little bit of help.
Asking for help isn’t always easy, but if you can overcome that fear, you might be surprised to see just how quickly someone else might be able to help you shake your negative emotions and shift your perspective a bit.
Accountability Assistance to Get Out of a Rut
If you haven’t been able to snap out of your rut on your own, it might be time to get a little accountability. A friend, family member, or mentor could encourage you and help hold you accountable to your goal.
Reaching out to ask for help isn’t always easy, but you might be surprised to see just how willing your loved ones might be to help when they see you’re in need.
Seek a Professional Perspective
Some would prefer to leverage a professional resource instead of asking friends or family to help – and that’s totally OK.
A therapist can be a great outlet when you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a rut. An unbiased third party may be able to lend some critical perspective and help shift the way you view yourself, your life, and your ability to get out of this rut.
Each Day is a New Opportunity to Get Out of a Rut
Life happens – that’s one thing we can’t change. You can keep living your life as you have been – stuck in your rut – or you can take action and change things for the better. You cannot reclaim lost time, but you can make the most of the days and years that lie ahead of you.
For even more help staying on track, check out How to Stay Consistent in Life and Meet Your Goals!
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This is a great article Julianna. I think it’s amazing how even when things are going well we can get into an emotional rut that makes us feel like we aren’t moving or aren’t moving fast enough.
I think one thing that has helped me a lot when I feel like I’m in a rut is the simple act of writing a list of the things that I LOVE to do and that bring me JOY and then making sure I get more of those things in my every day life. Doing that has helped me to be a more creative person and creativity is the balm to negativity, fear, and boredom.