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You know what it feels like when you’re stuck in a rut, right? You’re treading water and are stuck doing the same things day-to-day. Stuff that used to interest you is less engaging than usual and you feel you’re making no progress towards you’re goals and get frustrated. You’re churning up mud and going nowhere fast.
Luckily, you can work out why you’ve stalled and how to get things going again. So, don’t fret. You can come up with a new plan to get your mojo back, and this article aims to help you do just that.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Things to look out for
The signs that you’re emotionally stuck can be subtle. You follow the same schedule day-in, day-out. But after a while, it feels like you’re not really achieving anything, being productive or doing meaningful work. Here’re some more signs you might be stuck in a rut.
- You’re unmotivated and want to take on new challenges, but don’t have the energy to put into them.
- You often forget what day of the week it is, because all the days feel the same and become indistinguishable from one another.
- You feel you’re just killing time and want to get through the day.
- You don’t feel inspired or excited.
- You’re unsatisfied. Life feels boring and dull. Despite wanting to learn something new or try out a new hobby, you don’t know where to begin.
- You fear the temporary discomfort that will come along with a desired change. As a result, you put off changing anything, even though you’re unfulfilled, so that you don’t have to deal with the possibility of failure.
Soon, we’ll talk about how you can figure out why you might be in a rut. First though, let’s run through the importance of accepting you’re stuck.
Accept the situation
if you’re stuck, don’t beat yourself up. It’s quite common and you won’t be stuck for long.
It’s important you don’t stay in denial because it will stop you taking action to get yourself sorted. So, if you’re continually making excuses for your feelings, or keep convincing yourself you’re only tired, you’ll only end up drawing out your own dissatisfaction with your situation.
Remember to forgive yourself too. Blaming yourself for getting stuck won’t resolve the situation or make you feel more positive, it’ll just make you more miserable. Instead, acknowledge your situation and go over your goals. If they don’t line up with what you want or seem unrealistic and unachievable, think about making some changes. To do this you’re going to need to know what caused you to feel like this.
Figuring out why you’re in a rut
Identifying the cause of your discontentment is the first step to digging yourself out of the hole you’re in. It’s also a wise thing to do before you make any major changes in your life.
Ask yourself where these feelings originate from. Is your job causing these feelings? Are you having personal troubles, or is your relationship going through a rocky patch? Do you take no joy in your hobbies? Is there trouble in your family life or at home?
The root cause of you getting emotionally stuck can be found in any of the above situations and many more besides. It’s vital that you don’t berate yourself and beat yourself up once you understand why you’re in a rut.
Thoughts like “I don’t have any right to feel this way” or “I’m lucky to live the life I do,” are counter-productive and will interfere with your efforts to move forward. If you’ve lost your get up and go, it’s a good idea to make changes to give yourself a much-needed boost.
If you’re struggling to work out why you’re stuck, check-in with yourself to make sure you’re taking care of yourself properly.
Now let’s see what actions you can take to help rediscover your sparkle.
Ways to get out of a rut
Here are some great tips you can follow to give yourself the best chance of getting the spring back in your step.
1) Keep initial changes small
Be careful not to make lots of big changes to your schedule to increase your motivation and satisfaction. Remember:
- Changing everything seldom goes to plan.
- Big sweeping changes to your routine are hard to stick to and can be overwhelming.
A better way to go about things may be to make a couple of small changes to ease yourself into a different schedule. Only introducing a few changes at first will help you quickly recognise if something doesn’t work for you. That way, you can try out something else and waste less time following techniques that don’t pay off. Thus you can make the process itself more efficient, whilst working to improve your motivation and happiness levels. You may even become more productive after a while.
If you’re unsure where to start making changes, go back to the reasons you think you might be in a rut and make little changes in those areas of your life first. For example, if you’re having problems in the workplace consider whether it’s feasible to switch to another department.
2) Make time for yourself
It’s essential to take care of yourself. Taking good care of yourself boosts energy and makes you feel ready to make changes to your daily routine. Try your best to set aside some time for the following:
- Simple relaxation.
- Taking regular short breaks when engaged in difficult, complex or deep work. One way to build these breaks into your working routine, is by using the Pomodoro Technique or a personalised variation of it.
- Taking a break when you’re worn out.
- Spending quality time with family and friends.
- Eating a healthy well-balanced diet.
- Taking regular exercise in whatever form possible.
- Making sure you have a healthy sleep routine, so you get enough high-quality sleep to enable you to stay focused throughout the following day.
Soon, we’ll look at the benefits of being a little more impulsive than usual. Now, it’s time to look at the importance of giving your brain a breather.
3) Give your brain some space
Routines can be great and give your life structure and meaning. It can also help reassure you because certain things in our lives become familiar.
However, every now and then, it can be good for you to break the mould. Without sprinkling a little variety into your life, stuff can get drab and you can end up going through the motions because you’re used to it. I’ve talked about how novelty can increase motivation before.
Your brain — a particular part of the prefrontal cortex, to be precise — will try to solve problems based on techniques that have worked for you before. But if you’re in a new situation, facing a different sort of issue, using what you’ve learnt before might not work.
Luckily, there’s a simple way you can deal with this. If you take a break, that active region of your brain will reboot itself. So, it might not be such a bad thing to sometimes throw focus out the window. It might help you come up with some more creative solutions to challenges and create fresh routines. If you want to reset your brain, you can take a walk, doodle or simply let your mind wander. The main thing is to zone out for a while.
Next, we’ll see how being a bit impulsive can help you stop going round in circles.
4) Embrace Impulsivity
Doing something on impulse has gained a bad name. But most of the time, being a bit impulsive does not harm anybody and can end up working in your favour. Making decisions on the fly can help make you more confident. It’s a fantastic way to introduce a touch of variety to your life, too. It doesn’t need to be anything big, either. So why not be a devil and buy a different pack of biscuits to try this week?
By taking a different approach to problem-solving, you can gain new insights and find new sources of inspiration and pleasure that can help free you from a rut.
5) Take a realistic approach
Mulling over stuff you’ve got no control over doesn’t often help. Neither does sweeping issues under the rug and hoping things will get better on their own.
Rather than doing this, be realistic about things and consider what you can do to address problems. At times, you can end up in a rut because of something you didn’t do. Focusing on what you can do to improve your situation is likely to be a more productive use of your time and energy than just worrying over something you can’t change.
6) Stop trying to be perfect
Perfectionism can lead to self-destructive behaviour. If you’re a perfectionist, I bet you spend ages getting your work up to scratch. You might even spend hours revising or reworking something because you don’t think it was good enough, even if you did an excellent job in the first place.
It’s great to have a solid work ethic, but it’s just as important to recognise errors are natural and necessary for growth.
So, don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from finishing your work. Instead, put your best efforts into whatever you’re currently working on, then move on when it’s finished. Not dwelling on past projects could help you avoid experiencing depression and anxiety, and thus you’ll feel more positive about what you do.
This can give you the surge of motivation you need to get out of that pesky rut.
The wrap up
Being stuck in a rut is a real pain, but if you learn how to recognise when you’re in one you can take steps to climb out of it. Remember:
- Keep changes small.
- Take care of yourself.
- Give your brain space.
- Embrace impulsivity.
- Take a realistic approach.
- Stop trying to be perfect.
If you take some of these tips on board, you’re sure to rediscover your mojo and free yourself from whatever is making you dispirited and bored. Soon, you’ll become your happier, more motivated and more productive self once again.
There are times when feeling unmotivated, anxious and depressed signals more than just being stuck. If you think the way you’re feeling is more profound or long-lasting than just being a bit stuck, there are some valuable resources out there for you.
In the UK, go here to find a therapist and get help.
Healthline has great advice on where to find therapy for those in the US.
Take care and thanks for reading!