Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 7, 2019

How to Get Out of a Rut and Start Living the Life You Desire

How to Get Out of a Rut and Start Living the Life You Desire

Life comes in waves of novelty and familiarity. When things are new to us, whether they are goals, living situations, or jobs, they give us this rush of excitement and fear that pushes us to continue forward. Through the good and the not so good, these waves of novelty give us the opportunity to start anew and fuel our desire to enhance our lives.

When things become too familiar, on the other hand, it’s easy to fall into old habits and to feel as though we are not getting anywhere. This feeling eventually becomes something that begins to consume our days and we fall into a rut.

Once in that rut, it can be hard to get out, despite though you are well aware that you have trapped yourself in a cycle of doing the same things and getting no results.

The good news about being in a rut is that it is entirely possible to get yourself out, it will just take a little bit of strategy and self-exploration. If you’re one of the many people who feel that life has become bland or repetitive, take a look at this guide to help you get out of your rut and back into the life that you should be living.

1. Figure Out How Deep Your Rut Is

Not everyone’s rut is going to be the same. Some people may come to the realization that they are feeling trapped, make a slight adjustment in direction, and quickly put themselves back on track.

Advertising

Others, however, may be in a rut for several years before they figure out exactly what’s wrong and by that time, it is a little harder to change your course so that you can head in the direction that you’re wanting to go.

When you first begin to notice the feeling of being stuck or trapped in your current situation, hold onto that feeling and evaluate it. How long has this feeling been going on? Is this something that has recently appeared or is this something that you have been dealing with for ages but are only now noticing? More importantly, what type of feelings are being brought about with this shift in thinking?

Although being in a rut may feel relatively similar across the board and point to a lack of happiness with one’s life, there are different emotions that may be experienced when you come to the realization that you are in a rut. Some may be angry, some may be frustrated, and others may simply be going through a funk that they can’t shake.

It’s important to note this last part as some people may have everything they want but could be dealing with a major mental health issue such as depression. Depression manifests itself through symptoms such as a lack of interest in daily activities, fatigue and feelings of hopelessness and sadness, and avoidance of work and other responsibilities.[1]

If you’re not dealing with depression, the good news is that all you need are some life alterations to feel like your happy self again. If you are dealing with a form of depression, it’s important that you seek the help you need and if it is needed, you can take care of any life changes after you tackled your depression.

Advertising

2. Determine Where in Your Life You Feel Discontent

Being trapped in a rut may be a sign that your whole life needs re-working but that isn’t always so. Sometimes we may feel in a rut at work but could feel perfectly fine when we are out with friends or at home. Instead, we may feel stuck in a rut in our personal lives and may very happy with the progress that we’ve made in our professional lives.

Regardless of whether your rut signifies a whole life issue or just a problem in individual or several parts, you have to take a comprehensive look at your current life situation to determine where you are not getting your needs met.

The easiest way to do this is by using a goal-setting tool such as Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life, which identifies some of the major sections of life that people may wish to improve upon in order to experience balance in all aspects of their life.[2]

This resource specifically focuses on the following categories:

  • Physical/Health Goals
  • Personal & Social Goals
  • Work & Career Goals
  • Family Goals (Relationship and friendship goals can fall in here as well.)
  • Spiritual Goals
  • Financial Goals
  • Mind/Intellect Goals

Advertising

    Start by going through each of these sections of life and asking yourself, am I 100 percent happy in this given area?

    If you are, congratulations! That’s one less section that you will have to work on to get yourself out of your rut.

    If the answer is no, however, take some time to jot down ways you can improve that section. For example, if you feel as though the work and career aspect of your life could be improved, maybe that means that you need to change your job completely and work towards what you love or maybe you just need to figure out how to get a raise or promotion.

    Whatever ideas and visions make you happiest, write those down so that you can reference them later on when you begin working towards what you want.

    3. Start Off Small and Gradually Set Goals

    You can’t change your life overnight and trying to do so can bring about as much frustration and stress as being in a rut can. Look over your goals each day and ask yourself, how can I work towards this today?

    Advertising

    For the smaller goals like breaking a bad habit/creating a good habit or simply squeezing more you time into your day, you will be able to make these changes rather easily.

    For much larger goals that will take time, remember to break them down, set specific end goals and establish time frames, and remain mindful in your daily life so that you don’t end up drifting throughout your days and ending back where you are at the current moment![3]

    Final Thoughts

    The most important thing to remember is to not feel bad or bully yourself. Everyone goes through ruts, big and small, at some point in their lives. How your life goes from here depends entirely on what you do once you realize you are in one!

    Make the right decision by using the tips in this guide so that you can live the life that you want to lead in the future. If you need any additional help to guide yourself through some of the sections above, feel free to go through the following resources:

    Featured photo credit: Jake Melara via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dylan Buckley

    Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

    Why You Feel Stuck in Your Career After Staying in a Job Longterm How to Find Work Motivation When You’re Unfulfilled at Work How to Get Out of a Rut and Start Living the Life You Desire 13 Things to Do When You Feel Uninspired and Stuck Where You Are How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

    Trending in Mental Strength

    1 15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success 2 How to Turn Your Fear of Missing Out into a Joy of Missing Out 3 What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? 4 Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better? 5 10 Personal Development Goals for Success and Happiness

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on April 17, 2019

    15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success

    15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success

    If you get stuck feeling unmotivated, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief to learn there are simple, yet high impact, changes that will steer you back on track.

    Here are 15 tips that will not only restore your motivation for success but raise it so you can pursue your personal definition of a successful and happier life.

    1. Practice Looking at the Glass Being Half Full When Life Is Challenging

    This is not as easy to do if you feel like you’re unsuccessfully playing dodgeball in most areas of your life. Practice short bursts of radical acceptance[1] paired with looking for fine threads of your day you are grateful for that bring you happiness.

    It will feel strange at first but with time your brain’s neuro-circuitry gets fitting in focusing on what motivates and inspires you.

    Start practicing this exercise at times during the day when you feel okay, so then when rough times hit, your ability to rebound will be more automatic. However, you need to practice.

    Before you know it, your battles will become like a walk in the park!

    2. Review the Happiness Level of Your Everyday Social Network

    Jim Rohn’s famous saying:

    “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”

    It is not gospel. But in examining whether or not your relationships support, encourage, inspire, educate and nurture you, you actually need to look beyond those five people.

    Social science professors James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis explain how we need to look at our third degree of separation to identify those who influence our happiness in our social relationships.[2]

    People are generally happier because their first-level friends are also central to a happy network of people. To increase your motivation and happiness, don’t just look at your friends. Look at your friends’ friends!

    3. Clean up Your Relationships — Work and Personal

    Do you ever ask yourself what aspects of your relationships are healthy for you and bring you happiness? Do you also consider what you contribute to those and whether doing also brings you happiness?

    Advertising

    It’s time to not only reflect on what you gain from relationships but what contributions you can make to help them further flourish.

    Caution! Over-helping is not the answer here. Sometimes you need to cull the time you spend with certain people. However, it’s about being more accountable and choosing to improve how you want to show up for people in your life, work-wise and personally.

    Set yourself some personal goals and get to the task. Cleaning up and stepping up will continually motivate you. You’ll heighten that positive vibration of your everyday existence.

    4. Develop a Personal Development Plan for Your Own Definition of Success and Happiness

    Goal-setting isn’t just for helping us attain better cars, houses or greater income. When you change goal focus to become the person required to obtain those things, your goals expand beyond tangible limits. Having a personal development plan is essential.

    Draw a circle and divide it up into pie segments (like having spokes on a wheel) that represent the following areas of your life:

    • Finances and money
    • Intimate relationships
    • Friends and social relationships
    • Health and wellbeing
    • Spirituality and religion
    • Hobbies, leisure and fun activities
    • Vocation, career and work

    The center point of your circle represents zero. Zero means you are least satisfied. The outer circumference of your circle is ten. Ten means you are the most satisfied and content.

    For each area, plot on the spoke your current rating of satisfaction. Then, review each area again and denote on the spoke what level of satisfaction you desire.

    See where the differences between your current and desired satisfaction levels are smallest. These may be the easiest areas to start brainstorming the changes you want to experience. Some areas won’t be as important to you to make changes. Others will be. Working with an impartial coach can greatly help to flesh out clarity.

    Regularly doing this exercise (e.g. every quarter) will reignite your motivation and keep you on the path to reach greater success and happiness.

    5. Invest in Personal Development

    Your personal development plan will give you strong clues as to what programs, books, podcasts, networking groups and social activities to tap into. But be wary of the bright, shiny object syndrome and well-meaning friends and family projecting their countless recommendations on to you!

    Be gracious and thankful for their advice and guidance (even though it can often be uninvited!), choose wisely and make your own decisions.

    Focus on the challenges you face now. Are you experiencing problems with your significant other? Are your children suffering from bullying at school and you’re unsure how to help them?

    Advertising

    Perhaps you are experiencing a plateau in work satisfaction or your business is experiencing a slump. Whatever problems are present for you now, explore activities and education that will help you solve those.

    6. Invest in Experiences, Not Material Things

    Splashing your cash on physical possessions to reward yourself won’t just send you bankrupt. When you constantly rely on external things to motivate you, you’re in real danger of never being satisfied.

    Instead, ignite your motivation internally by investing in experiences which allow you to feel those feelings you believe you will have when you’re successful.

    If becoming a public speaker is a dream you have, invest in Toastmasters or a public speaking program. If whisking you and your partner away for a luxury weekend at a second’s notice fits your definition of success, save over time to do this.

    Don’t just set your sights on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Practice feeling success at each step in your journey.

    7. Create or Join a Mastermind Group

    Napoleon Hill created the concept in his book Think and Grow Rich first published in 1937, yet today, being an entrepreneur is still often a terribly lonely existence. Joining a mastermind group, your motivation is fueled by the collective genius of others also wanting to collaborate, solve problems, cross-promote, network and learn new things.

    Not only is keeping motivated easier in itself, your thinking also grows exponentially.

    Choose your group wisely and collectively, your contributions will escalate you all to refreshing new heights.

    8. Work with a Coach

    We have personal training coaches, health and wellbeing coaches and career coaches yet we rarely engage a coach to help us with two of the most significant factors influencing our success and happiness: money and our psychological well-being. Our approach is often remedial and it’s not until we’re in dire straits that we call in the emergency services.

    Money may not buy us happiness but financial freedom is having freedom of choice and freedom of choice means wider opportunities for greater happiness. Risks and growth always pose threat to our mental and emotional stability.

    By learning proactive skills that strengthen your resilience in your personal and working life, you can lift your motivation to tackle challenges with greater courage. You have a backup plan and safety nets to catch you when you fall.

    Whether it’s a money mindset coach, a performance coach, a business coach or a relationship coach…open up the conversation. Get to know yourself better, make plans to clear the hurdles and get ready to sprint!

    Advertising

    9. Focus Your Conversations on Your Ideas and Goals

    When you increase emphasis and focus upon certain things, feelings and thoughts, you are telling your brain these things are important. The feelings and thoughts will become more easily amplified and neural pathways which access similar feelings and thoughts become activated.

    Given this, be strategic. Deliberately reframe the conversations you have to discuss ideas, plans and progress to take you toward where you want to go.

    Stimulate and train your brain to increase its stretch. Direct it to dwell on positive experiences and results you have had, and deliberately share in conversations these feelings and results are what you want more of.

    Not only are you training yourself to feel happier for greater parts of your day, you are communicating your true desires and wishes for a more successful and happier life to the wider community.

    Share with them more of what you desire to experience and achieve. You create a greater likelihood of receiving favorable surprises in answer to your requests.

    10. Have Goals to Become a Better Friend, Partner or Work Associate

    Examine your relationships by asking yourself what aspects are healthy for you and bring you happiness. Also, consider what you contribute to that relationship and whether doing so brings you happiness.

    Think about not just what you gain from the relationship but also what you can do to help make that relationship flourish more. Can you improve how you show up for people in your life, work-wise and personally? Set yourself some personal goals and get to the task.

    Do you need to organize a get together instead of waiting for your friend to organize the rendezvous yet again? You might put the garbage out without being asked by your partner from now on. Stepping up and stepping into healthier and happier relationships will only heighten the positive vibration of your everyday existence.

    11. Learn How to Lead Better by Encouraging Others to Become Better Leaders

    If you’re a leader, it can be really hard to resist the urge to take the steering wheel when you can see others are about to drive off a cliff. However, stepping out of the limelight to let others have their fifteen minutes of fame is the sign of a true leader.

    Supporting and coaching others to develop confidence and stay in the driver’s seat on their journey is truly soul-enriching. Stay beside them when they drive into the fog and be persistent with your encouragement to keep them focused and on track.

    You have greater purposefulness to others when you empower them to work through their own trials and tribulations and help them build greater resilience in the process. Your self-esteem and internal happiness will deepen on a richer level and stay with you for far, far longer.

    12. Embrace Negative Feedback and Criticism

    We don’t actually learn best when people agree and applaud us. We learn best when we make mistakes and experience the intense emotions connected with the failure or rejection.

    Advertising

    Invite yourself to look for the lesson in every perceived misfortune. There is always a golden nugget for growth; we just have to increase our practice of looking for it.

    Lick your wounds only for so long and move quickly to look for the lesson. When you can do so, you can charge your internal motivation from within and still experience happiness even in the darkest of times.

    13. Exercise a Sense of Adventure Every Day

    When you set small goals to do things slightly differently each day, you can entirely re-shape the level of happiness you experience. Here’s a list to play with:

    • Try a different coffee brew to start your day
    • Dress in work attire even if you are working from home today
    • Walk a different route from your final subway stop to the office
    • Smile at a stranger as you make eye contact passing them in the street
    • Pay a compliment to one of your work colleagues when you notice they are feeling stressed
    • Go out walking during your break if you usually eat lunch at your desk or inside

    Spice up small changes in the brief moments of your daily living. Small shifts lift not only your motivation but shed light and happy vibes to those around you.

    14. Orchestrate Your Destiny Using Daily Imagery

    Take advantage of the fact your brain does not know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined when it comes to imagery. Instruct your day-dreaming activity to envisage what happiness and success look like, feel like, smell like, taste like and sound like.

    When you daily rehearse your mini movies of your success and happiness goals, your brain’s reticular activating system will begin filtering in information to help you reach these.

    Before too long, your plans, actions and decisions will increasingly honor these. Keep your eyes on the prize and you are more likely to reach success sooner than you might think.

    15. Become an Expert Researcher of Your Own Challenges

    Whilst we have all the resources within us, we don’t necessarily have all the answers. However, when knowing more, we feel (and are) in more control.

    Look further afield and gain from the knowledge, experience and insights of the qualified experts in those areas. However, be aware of ulterior agendas being pushed upon you.

    Sifting through the information relevant to you and following your gut instinct will only spark your motivation. The considered decisions you make in the moment will always be the right ones.

    More Articles to Boost Your Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Marsha Linehan: Radical Acceptance
    [2] James H Fowler, associate professor, Nicholas A Christakis, professor: Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study

    Read Next