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.
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.