Stuck in a rut? We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re in a ‘The Truman Show’-esque routine that has become intolerable.
Or, maybe, you’ve simply been at your job too long and you’re scared to make a change. (Or have had trouble finding something new.)
Whether you know exactly what’s causing a general feeling of “blah” lately — or aren’t quite sure — we’re going to show you how to get rid of it.
You don’t need to stay stuck in a rut — but you do need to make an effort to get yourself out of it. When you wait for things to just happen on their own, you stay stuck.
Ready to get unstuck? Follow this guide to get back to a life you enjoy.
Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Life
This is hard to do without thinking about where you are now. But brainstorm your ideal life and leave off the constraints for this step.
Let’s say I decide that I want to be a dermatologist. It means returning to school, which is not off the table, but the next step is to ask why that’s my ideal.
Maybe it’s because I love skincare and beauty products. If that’s my true interest, I don’t need to go back to school because I don’t necessarily need a degree to sell or promote beauty products.
Once I’ve identified my true ideal, I might look into an e-commerce opportunity for me to sell products.
But if I immediately said, “I can’t afford to go back to school” or “I don’t have time to study for a degree,” I wouldn’t have gotten to the next step — which is discovering what is a better fit for my place in life and what I’m truly interested in doing.
I didn’t stay stuck by looking at constraints. I dug into my why to explore my interests, which is when I was able to cascade out to other opportunities.
But… Is It Really Your Ideal Life?
This exercise may also help you realize if your want is actually a should, which is a problem.
Several years back, when I made a career change, I was encouraged to enter a field because I had a knack for it. People complimented me on my ability to do something well so when making a change, I considered it.
I eventually realized that being good at something and being skilled at it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. It was something someone else thought I should do, which didn’t make sense for where I wanted to be.
Step 2: Control Your Input
Bad advice for breaking out of a rut — and into a not-so-great career — doesn’t only come from our well-meaning friends. We get messages and advice from multiple outlets every single day.
Whether we see it surfing through Facebook status updates or subscribing to every email newsletter under the sun, we are constantly bombarded with ideas and images of what we should be doing.
But all of that noise drowns out our own voices.
If we do not stop to reflect and listen to what’s going on inside of us, we won’t know the best way to get out of our ruts. That’s not a “woo-woo,” New Age, out-there concept.
How many of us really stop and think about what we want rather than passively absorbing whatever is thrown our way?
Step 3: Stop and Reflect
Do you even notice how you feel about what you do (both in your professional and personal life)? I’m guilty of going-going-going at times and not stopping to ask if I’m doing things I enjoy.
Driven people do what needs to be done. (Often without any reflection).
Set time aside regularly, even 15 minutes at the end of the day, to jot down what worked and what didn’t. Are the things that didn’t work something you can get rid of, delegate, or change?
For example, if your products aren’t selling, should you keep doing what you’ve always done, or try something new?
Step 4: Keep a Holding Place for Ideas
Keep a notebook (yes, an actual pad and paper) with you to jot down ideas that come to mind. We live in a distracted culture where anything that comes to mind is something we can explore immediately.
Don’t do that.
That behavior teaches your brain to be distracted rather than to engage in deep thought. Instead, have a holding place for ideas, passions, and interests — and write them down to review at the end of the week and month.
What have you found to be recurring themes versus passing thoughts?
Stuck in a Rut… But Not for Long
Remember that success and happiness are individual concepts. Had I ventured into the career mentioned above, I may have been doing well and viewed as successful. But happy? No.
Doing something I hate is not how I define success.
My success comes from aligning my strengths and skills with things that interest me and getting rid of the things that don’t.
So yeah, turn off all those external signals and get in touch with your inner self, and you will find you’re not stuck in a rut any longer.