We’ve all been there before – feeling stuck in a rut, not sure how to move forward. It can be a frustrating and even debilitating experience. But the good news is that there are things you can do to get out of a rut.
A rut is when you’re stuck in a routine and feel like you can’t get out of it. You don’t feel challenged, excited, or interested in what you’re doing — therefore you’re feeling bored and uninterested.
Ruts are a sign that something needs to change so that you continue growing as an individual and avoid falling into a monotonous pattern that doesn’t challenge you.
When we find ourselves frozen in time, the best thing we can do is get back up again and make those changes we need to escape. If this feeling lasts more than a few days, it might be time to take action.
Here are some ways to get out of your rut and into something more exciting:
You might think that getting stuck in a rut is something that only happens to other people, but it can happen to anyone. You don’t need to be filled with despair when you find yourself stuck at a crossroads. Instead, it’s an opportunity to find new ways of thinking and unique activities that lead you toward your goals.
Change your routine
A lack of variety in your daily routines creates inaction. If you have the same daily schedule and don’t focus on the things that excite you, it’s likely that you’ll soon feel disinterested and bored. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, the best thing you can do is shake things up a bit.
The type of shake-up you need will depend on where your routine falls short. For example, if you lack social interaction, meet some new people.
If you lack focus and direction, try journaling or meditating to help bring clarity to what you want. Once you’ve found the areas where your routine is stagnating, try adding something different to your daily schedule to help make up for it.
Get out of a rut by learning something new.
When you’re stuck in a rut, you might feel like there’s nothing left to learn. But that’s rarely the case — everyone can always learn something new. Even if you’re a master at your job, there are likely aspects of the job that you’re not entirely comfortable with or would like to improve.
When you feel bored with life, it’s a good idea to focus on learning new skills to help you grow and feel rechallenged. For example, at work, try asking your manager what you can do to expand your skill set.
In your life outside of work, try to focus on learning new skills that will help you challenge yourself and expand your horizons. Learning a new language, skill, or trade is a great way to break free. It can help you feel stimulated again, give you something to focus on, and take your mind off of whatever else may be causing you to feel bored.
Use feedback to break free from a rut.
Getting feedback can be scary, but it’s a great way to find out where you need to work harder and improve without guessing and making assumptions about what other people are thinking. If you find yourself in a rut at work, ask your manager or coworkers for feedback on what they think you need to work on to improve.
Suppose you’re having trouble finding concrete ways to improve; ask for feedback on your work and how you can improve. It’s important to remember that feedback isn’t always negative — in fact, most managers are looking for ways to help you improve and grow, and positive feedback can also be constructive.
Try something you’re not good at doing
Being good at something is great, but it isn’t everything. Sometimes, the best way to get out of a rut is to do something you’re not good at. Challenge yourself by trying something new that puts you outside your comfort zone. For example, try learning a new language, going outside your comfort zone at work, and taking on a new project.
Alternatively, you can try challenging yourself in other areas of your life, such as going to the gym and lifting heavier weights than you usually would or trying to reduce your feelings of laziness by finding ways to stay active every day.
By actively trying new things and challenging yourself, you can help to break out of a rut and feel like you’ve accomplished something by the end of the day.
Take a break
If you find that you’re stuck in a rut and not sure where to go from there, one possibility is to take a break. A break can be any length of time, depending on what you need and what you’re feeling.
Take a week off of social media, or use a Pomodoro technique to focus on essential tasks for a set time every day. While this may not seem like you’re actively getting out of your usual routine, giving yourself the time and space to recharge, reflect, and decide what you want to do next is critical.
Taking a break can help you figure out what you need to do to get out of the rut. It can help you see the situation with new eyes and find solutions you couldn’t see before.
Change your mindset
Look, you’ve probably heard that you need to “change your life” a million times, which may have led you to believe that you need a complete lifestyle overhaul.
But if you’re going to get out of a rut, you need to change your perspective. Remember that change doesn’t have to be dramatic. You can alter your mindset by thinking about what you want to experience.
Also, modify how you think about the things you already do.
Think about what you enjoy
When you feel trapped, it might feel tempting to focus on what you have to do and what you don’t want to do. Work, bills, chores, and obligations are what you have to do.
You don’t have to go out and find something you’re passionate about right now. Instead, sit down and think about what interests you. What do you enjoy, or what would be fun? Are you curious about learning something? Thinking about what you want can inspire you to break free from the rut.
Celebrate the small wins to escape the rut
When you’re stuck in a rut and feeling incredibly unmotivated, it can be hard to find sources of positivity and joy.
We all tend to focus on the bad things in life. When you’re in a rut, you can quickly sink into a negative mindset that only focuses on what’s wrong. Celebrating the small wins can help you to get out of that negative mindset and feel like you’re making progress again.
For example, if you’re feeling held back because you’re having trouble finding work, instead of focusing on the fact that you haven’t found a job in months, focus on celebrating the small wins like applying to one new job per week or improving your resume. Small wins can help to break free and get you back on track again.
Update your resume
If you haven’t worked for a while or are just starting your career, you might want to gloss over your resume. Every experience, even those you didn’t enjoy, can be helpful.
Keep in mind that you can put down almost anything you want on your resume as long as you’re honest about it.
If your interest in a field led you to do some unrelated activities, don’t worry about it. You can always write “Other related experience” and fill in the details later.
Try out new activities
If you feel like you’re out of your depth, you might feel tempted to return to the things you know. That’s fine in moderation, but if you’re doing it too much, you might miss out on new opportunities.
You don’t have to do anything dramatic, though. You can try out lots of small things. If you’ve always wanted to try gardening, go for it! Hanging around new people can help you shake off the feelings of being stuck. You can also use new activities to try out different parts of yourself.
If you’ve always been serious, try going to a comedy show or putting on a silly costume for a kids’ party. What you find out about yourself might surprise you.
Expose yourself to different experiences
If you’re stuck in a rut, you might also feel like you’re missing out on opportunities. Maybe you’re spending too much time alone, or perhaps you’re spending too much time with people you always see.
If you’re feeling like you’re missing out on opportunities, you don’t have to try to force yourself to change. Instead, take a step back and think about the things you want to do.
What do you wish you could experience? Where can you go to try new things out? What events do you want to you could attend? What places do you wish you could visit?
At the end of the day, getting out of a rut is about change — and change can be tricky, especially when you feel like you don’t know where to start or what to do. Feeling stuck happens to everyone, and it’s a normal part of life — but it doesn’t have to be permanent. When you’re trying new things and challenging yourself, you can help to break out of a rut and feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Don’t assume you’re stuck forever. You can work towards more change in your life without feeling forced out of your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when you’re no longer stuck in a rut.