5 Ways to Escape a Rut

Living in a rut prevents you from fully experiencing life, but breaking out of a daily grind isn’t always easy. If you think you need to shake things up a little, try these suggestions.

What’s the Problem?

No really, what’s the problem? What’s holding you back and keeping you in the rut? Obviously you don’t want to be there, or you wouldn’t be concerned with getting out of a rut in the first place.

Facing and identifying the cause of a rut isn’t always easy. It takes honesty and courage to look at your life and search for the baggage which keeps you from moving forward. Do you need to change jobs, end a relationship or go back to school? What’s stopping you from doing what you want and how can you circumvent the obstacle?

Sometimes, of course, you can’t sidestep the obstacle and need to hit the problem head on. If, for instance, you suffer from an addiction, you’ll need time at one of the better addiction rehab centers before you can move on.

Watch for Autopilot

Sometimes you examine your life and realize there isn’t anything keeping you in your rut other than habit. Ruts can be comfortable places; you know the ground well enough you can navigate through life without really paying attention.

Living life on autopilot can be dangerous, because you become less able to respond to change and slow to adapt. If your life has become too complacent, you need to shake things up a bit. Take a new course, volunteer, learn a new skill — do something different from your usual routine.

Be Aware

One of the best ways to break out of an auto-pilot rut is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a western meditative practice once used by Middle Age monks. Essentially, you make a conscious effort to go through your day paying conscious attention to everything you do.

For instance, when you wash the breakfast dishes, be totally in the moment. Feel the warmth of the water, the suds on your hands and the clink of the dishes. Do the same as you drive to work, eat, or do anything else.

Mindfulness takes practice, but the simple act of paying attention can snap you out of the day-to-day grind and show you hidden paths out of the doldrums. Sometimes breaking out of a rut is as simple as seeing daily life in a new way.

Ask the One Year Question

If you’re having trouble moving past a rut, ask yourself a simple question: where do you want to be in a year? Think about where you’d like to be, what you’d like to be doing, and what you’d have to do to get there.

A clear vision of what you want serves as a powerful motivator if you need to hop a rut’s ridges. Of course, this strategy requires some hard work to achieve your new goals. If you find the changes seem overwhelming, you might need to rein in your vision a little. Difficulties with motivation may also suggest depression, which may have caused the rut in the first place.

Expand Your Social Circle

Sometimes breaking out of a rut is as simple as meeting some new acquaintances. Humans are, by nature, social animals. Meeting new people can be exciting, exposes you to new ideas and forces you out of your normal comfort zone.

Remember not everyone has the same social needs. You don’t need to dive into social activities if you’re introverted. Finding one or two new friends or a career mentor, however, can liven up your life and give you the opportunity to jump those rut ledges.

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Her Fitness Hut, Yahoo! Small Business, and

8 Responses to 5 Ways to Escape a Rut

  1. Issa says:

    Helpful, VERY!

  2. I like the idea of the One Year Question, but that’s tricky, isn’t it? I’m in a better place now than I’d have anticipated a year ago, but there are also some things I didn’t quite accomplish.

  3. Living on autopilot is a slow killer of our spirit, no question. It is definitely important to expand our social circle and like you said, make it what suits you, not what everyone else is doing. That is where people get scared away from being social.

  4. Ahmad Abu Sada says:

    Thanks, I appreciate the article and the tips.

  5. Solat Ali Agha says:

    Thank you man!!

  6. Ragnar says:

    Expanding your social circle can definitely be a game changer. Not only can it open up opportunities out of nowhere, it really helps set things into perspective about your life and your progress. (Although this is dependent on the sort of people you seek out.)

  7. Josh Emmanuel says:

    Awesome article….

    Seems like change is a big key – anything to shake up your life. Snowglobe It up a little!

  8. Nice article. One corollary of the One Year Question and Expand Your Social Circle is that if you’re in a toxic or dysfunctional situation, try your best to recognize it and get out. Out of the decades of employers and consulting clients I’ve had, I’ve only had two bad apples and getting out was the best thing I ever did. The insidious thing is that when you’re in a toxic situation, there’s often an accompanying impaired mental state which hampers your decision-making abilities. It was my realization that I was in an impaired state that was the A-Ha moment which eventually led to the conclusion that I was in a toxic situation.

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