Getting out of a rut: moving through stagnancy
Getting stuck in a rut is the reality of business and life. We all face ruts where we feel less motivated, aren’t hitting our goals, and just feel overall stuck. It can feel like you’re running on the spot, going nowhere. Or it can feel like you’re in sinking sand amidst all the tasks you need to do but lacking motivation. It can be a million different things, and that is what makes it hard to identify. While it can be hard to identify, there are many things you can do to begin moving forward again. It is okay to be stuck, but we can't be getting stuck forever.
Identifying your rut
Every rut is different! Some last a few weeks, some last years! No matter the depth of your rut, there are ways to get out of it! First, you need to recognise that you’re stuck! The first sign that can help you identify that you’re in a rut is you feel continuous low motivation. You are surrounded by things you need to get done and no motivation. Task saturated and no way to get it all done.
Another sign to look for is wanting to change but fearing the potential failure or pain that comes with change. This sounds like a very rational fear, but it is a huge indicator of a rut. Fearing change is very normal, but people that are moving forward will naturally move in the direction of change because they understand it is part of the process. If you can see that change needs to happen but are riddled by the fear and the pain that may come with it, you may be in a rut.
Some more signs that you may be stuck in a rut are feeling that you’re just trying to make it through another day, you feel unfulfilled, and every day feels the same. This lack of inspiration and excitement you would normally feel while reaching towards goals and getting tasks done is a good indicator of a rut. It is important to note though, people may feel some of these signs in isolation for a few days but that is normal. What is abnormal and needs to be addressed is feeling these feelings for long periods at a time.
Finding the why
So, now you can see that you’re in a rut, but why? Why do you feel unmotivated, unfulfilled, uninspired? Well, everyone’s why is different! But it is the why that holds the keys to the next steps. Getting to your why may be a difficult and uncomfortable process, and it may be helpful to get the opinion and guidance of a trusted confidant or professional advice.
Being stuck in a rut is always linked to a need not being met in an area of your life. If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs above, we can see that if we truly have all our needs met in every area of the pyramid, we would be at our peak and living fulfilled and content in our everyday life. The rut could be the result of a need not being met in a small part of your life, or it could be one of the most basic human needs and it is affecting everything you do! It is important to step back and look at every area of your life to help you identify the why.
As well as being stuck in a rut due to unmet needs, there is always an element of fear behind being stuck. Like we discussed in the signs of a rut section, fear of change is a driving force behind a rut. It is all well and good to know that fear is the sign, but now you need to identify what you are fearing. Moving forward is on the other side of wrestling with your fear.
Take action to climb out of your rut
Getting unstuck requires action! A bold step towards climbing out of your rut is changing up your everyday routine. Humans love routine and are creatures of habit, but clearly, your routine is not exciting anymore and has furthered you into feeling stuck. So, why not change it up! If you’re just trying to make it through the day and every day feels the same, do something that interrupts the monotony! Be spontaneous, do something different, talk to someone new, do something that you love and know makes you feel reignited.
Boosting your motivation will help you with getting tasks done and creating more time for yourself where you can do things that you love. It is important to remember that small steps will help you climb further out of the rut and big steps may cause overwhelm and a slide back into the rut. Start small! And don’t forget to celebrate the small wins and the small steps! Positive reinforcement is going to help you get motivated for mundane tasks and rewarding yourself can help you feel more motivated to do more in the direction of your bigger goals.
Finding purpose will help you immensely as you work to get out of your rut! If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your life, perhaps create smaller goals that will help you feel purposeful. Researchers have found that when people have something to look forward to, they are better equipped and able to cope with the challenges of the here and now! Plan things in advance so you have milestones to look forward to, and as proven, it will help you walk through the challenges of now and move towards bigger goals and a rut-less life!
Being stuck is not your home forever!
Being in a rut is something we have or will experience at one point or another! But you don’t have to stay in a rut forever! First, identify the signs that you are in a rut. Ask yourself the hard questions and uncover the reality as it is! Then, work out the why behind the sign. It is a tough challenge so, help from trusted people can be a great resource as you look at the reasons behind your rut! Once you know the why take steps in the direction of change. They don’t have to be big steps if you’re moving! Do things that reignite your passion and excitement for life and celebrate every win!
Buckley, D. (2020). How to get out of a rut and start living the life you desire. Life Hack. https://www.lifehack.org/822905/how-to-get-out-of-a-rut
Cherry, K. (2020). How to get out of a rut. Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-get-out-of-a-rut-4172608
Robbins, T. (n.d.). How to get out of a rut: 6 easy steps. Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/stuck-in-a-rut/