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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.

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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.

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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

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    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?

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    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

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    Dylan Buckley

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

    Why You Should Always Do What You Love (And How to Do It) How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams 25 Hard Work Motivational Quotes to Inspire You to Achieve More Think Your Work Sucks? 7 Ways to Deal with It

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    Last Updated on October 23, 2019

    How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You

    How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You

    A negative attitude carries with it a lack of awareness. You’re not necessarily aware of a negative attitude permeating your outlook on life, and because of this lack of awareness, your attitude affects your interactions with other people and your interactions with yourself.

    What if you were to become aware? What if, suddenly, you were able to step outside of the thought pattern that creates your attitude, choose a new pattern, and thus, a new attitude?

    Think about your thoughts. Many sources of advice aren’t going to tell you this crucial point:

    Changing your attitude is not about stifling or eliminating negative thoughts. It’s about changing your thought patterns through action.

    Negative thoughts will arise, but when you brood on them it’s like feeding and rewarding them so that they will come back again and form a pattern.

    When you alter repetitive thought patterns, you alter your attitude — it’s a physical process, and with it comes the ability to change the world in which you live. You’ll achieve things you didn’t think were possible before.

    To undertake this change, understand what to do with negative or unhelpful thoughts when they arise. This understanding will help you take action towards changing your attitude.

    Read on for some quick and easy suggestions on how to change a negative attitude.

    1. Harness the Incredible Power of Redirection

    Oftentimes, we think in a black-and-white, limiting way. It’s called binary thinking. Even thinking of thoughts as only negative or positive is a binary way of thinking.

    You develop a negative attitude because you are convinced this binary way of thinking is an accurate reflection of reality. When this way of thinking doesn’t achieve good results, you assign blame. Blame doesn’t help solve the problem of binary thinking — it perpetuates it.

    Binary thinking causes you to have tunnel vision when you’re working on your goals. You feel one approach is the right one — but research shows that redirection improves creativity.[1] Redirection requires you to think differently by changing tasks.

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    Take a step back from what you’re doing. Is there a different approach you can take? Who can you reach out to for help? What haven’t you tried? Redirect your actions and you’ll find yourself thinking more creatively and positively when it comes to solving the original problem.

    2. Amp up Your Positive Self-Talk

    Positive self-talk is exactly what it sounds like: these are uplifting statements you make to yourself. Then, you act on them.

    The thing about positive self-talk is it’s self-fulfilling. In other words, by concentrating on your strengths and making positive statements about yourself, you become what you tell yourself you are and your attitude changes.

    Psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker identifies key statements that mentally healthy people make:[2]

    • “I am lovable”
    • “I am capable”
    • “Most other people are lovable and capable, too”
    • “Success comes from doing”
    • “Challenges are opportunities”
    • “It’s only human to make mistakes”
    • “I have what it takes to cope with change — and to make changes happen”

    Tell yourself these things every day. Note statement number 4, “Success comes from doing.” You want to change your negative attitude. To successfully change your attitude, do things that help you feel good about yourself and others. Volunteer work and community sports leagues are great options.

    Action creates change. Make positive statements to yourself, take action based on these statements, and your outlook on life will change.

    3. Be a Change Agent, Not a Victim

    An agent is someone who is actively engaged in making something happen. A victim is someone who suffers from circumstances beyond their control.

    Victimization is valid and real, but if there’s no active pursuit of a solution, you remain a victim — you remain passive, and your attitude is one of bitterness, helplessness, or cynicism.

    You’re an agent who can change your own attitude. Ultimately, your own actions are the only things you control.

    You may not be able to control the rise of negative thoughts due to a tragedy that was beyond your control, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.

    Consider the following methods of coping with tragedies:[3]

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    • Talk with a counselor or someone who can give you an outside perspective.
    • Turn off the news, stop wallowing, and get active. Activities such as exercise, art, and games will help you process your feelings better by giving you a break from concentrating on repetitive negative thoughts.
    • Offer your support to others who have had a similar experience. If, for example, you’re recovering from addiction, find a peer support group.
    • Redirect painful emotions by finding an activity, such as volunteer work, writing, music, or sports, that is emotionally fulfilling and allows you to release pent-up emotions.

    Sometimes tragedy is self-inflicted, meaning you have a bad experience that’s not necessarily a tragedy, but you treat it as such. You get down on yourself, turn to drugs and alcohol, and brood over your negative thoughts and feelings.

    Be sure to recognize if this is happening, and become an agent of recovery instead of victimization.

    4. Dream Huge — but Set Realistic Expectations

    This is the truth about your dream: it’s real. What you really want out of life — call it your dream or fantasy or ambition — is a real idea you can and should hold onto no matter what happens.

    To set realistic expectations, break your dream down into steps that are achievable in the short-term.

    If you believe you’re entitled — you expect everything to fall into place — you will not realize your dream. Even if you’re lucky and successful, it won’t feel like success because entitlement is a bottomless pit.

    A negative attitude stems from expectations that don’t line up with reality. Again, your actions are the only thing you control. Science shows you’re not even necessarily in control of your thoughts.[4]

    But you are in control of the thoughts you choose to dwell on. Concentrate on your plans. You can expect to follow through when you concentrate on and check off the steps to completing a task. Concentrate on the tasks you need to complete in order to make your dream a reality.

    5. Transform Negative Thoughts into Ultimate Questions

    Asking questions opens your mind to new ideas. It helps you begin to build confidence. Positive self-talk can be tough, because your mind is like a broken record. You tell yourself you’re lovable, but for every time you say that, the thought that no one loves you pops up 10 times.

    Forbes’ Melody Wilding makes a great recommendation:[5]

    “When you catch your inner critic flinging accusations, think: how can I turn this statement into a question?”

    Here are some examples:

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    • Instead of, “Something must be wrong with me,” say, “What are the steps to success?”
    • Instead of, “I hate going to the grocery store,” say, “How can I save time at the grocery store?”
    • Instead of, “These people are annoying,” say, “How can I talk to these people so that this meeting is enjoyable?”
    • Instead of, “I was a complete idiot last night,” say, “What can I do differently in the future?”

    This way, you’re opening possibilities for new, constructive thoughts. You’re also paying attention to your thoughts and doing something with them.

    6. Laugh!

    “It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” – Wayne Dyer

    In almost all cases, you’ll develop a negative attitude if you choose to be angry and depressed instead of choosing to laugh. But how can you choose to laugh when something seems downright terrible?

    This is where the imagination and mental exercise kick in. Choose to look at a disappointing or disheartening circumstance in a different way. What is it that’s ironic, absurd, or outrageous about the circumstance?

    Is there an opposite circumstance you can imagine, one that’s so fantastically great it brings tears of laughter to your eyes just thinking about it? Are there any details that are just flat-out strange?

    If you’re depressed, choose comedy — choose something that can bring a smile to your face. Train yourself to seek good opportunities for humour, and you’re training yourself to have a positive attitude.

    7. Embrace Your Emotions and Release Them Confidently

    The moment you experience an emotion, there’s a reason for it; and therefore it’s valid.

    Here’s the challenge: you must control what you do with that emotion.

    You could hold the emotion in and let it fester, but that leads to things like depression, pent-up rage, and low self-esteem.

    You could release your emotion the moment you feel it without thinking, but that leads to relationship issues with other people. Or, you could release the emotion confidently in a way that asserts your self and your boundaries.

    • Practice observing your emotions when you feel them on a daily basis. Note what the emotion is and be there with it.
    • When you experience a strong emotion such as anger, take time to note your anger, take deep breaths, and calm down.
    • Figure out what or who caused your anger, and why.
    • Assert yourself. Don’t be mean about it, be confident. Say something like, “I would prefer for you to treat everyone as equals in the group, I can’t speak for everyone in the group, but it’s very important to me.”
    • Set your boundaries by repeating “I” statements, such as, “I don’t want you to yell at me, I feel uncomfortable. If there’s a problem, I would prefer to talk about it calmly.”

    If you embrace your emotions by processing them — by asking who, what, why, and how — and then you deal with them by expressing yourself confidently, your attitude will remain one of confidence, calmness, and positivity.

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    8. Create, Move, Believe, Contemplate Great Things

    Once you know you are in control of how you react to thoughts and emotions, and in turn your actions create a pattern that reinforces itself, a huge world of greatness is there for you.

    Greatness is there because at all times you can choose it. You can choose to listen to your deepest emotions, which are a thing of beauty because of their intense purity, and you can translate them into new things. New songs, poems, sayings, artworks, running routes, exercise routines, meals, friendships, jobs — it’s all there for you.

    Each negative thought is a positive response waiting to happen. Feel how your positive responses and your positive attitude are so enjoyable you wouldn’t trade them for anything else. Believe that you are amazing and your actions will have amazing results — even if you are not around to see the results bloom and flower.

    Contemplate great things because they’re the greatest things to contemplate. What if your decision to appreciate other people’s little quirks someday becomes love? What if your decision to write in your diary everyday someday becomes a memoir? You’re capable of all these things, and life can be great.

    9. Leave with the Four Agreements — but Agree to Come Back Again and Again

    A man named Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. With these agreements, Ruiz distills pearls of ancient Toltec wisdom. To transform your attitude, agree to do the following:

    • Don’t make assumptions
    • Don’t take anything personally
    • Be impeccable with your word
    • Do your best

    That’s it. Think about how these agreements inform your actions.

    If you are doing your best, you are in the moment.

    If you are impeccable with your word, you say things that reflect on the world you want to create.

    If you don’t take anything personally, you don’t get offended by other people’s words and actions, so you don’t lash out at them.

    If you don’t make assumptions, you have realistic expectations.

    Furthermore, check out these other tips on how to change your attitude. Return to advice that helps you again and again. With an attitude that says, “I’m always learning,” you’ll do just that, and your life will keep improving.

    Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

    Reference

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