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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

How to Move Forward When You’re Stuck in a Rut

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How to Move Forward When You’re Stuck in a Rut

I’ve helped thousands of people get out of ruts, however, rarely do they say “Hey Mand, I’m stuck in a rut, can you get me out?” It makes it sound like it’s so small that you could just rock a bit and out you’d pop like the proverbial cork out of the champagne.

If only it was that easy, right?

If you want to know what a rut really is like, check out the films that stick in your mind. At some stage, the stars are stuck in a rut: Ferris Beuller, Luke Skywalker and Jennifer in Dirty Dancing. And since I love Disney, poor old Rapunzel is seriously trapped, and we aren’t talking about the tower and the evil step mum.

Looking through my love of films, these films hook us because we look at how that character goes on a metaphorical of physical adventure, and we think by the time we get out of the cinema:

“It’s my time!”

“Let’s do this”

“I can achieve anything!”

Only to be at home tucked up doing what you usually do, slowly losing that sense of can do that was so alive in you as you left the movies.

So how do you hang on to the motivation to change and how do you make it happen ensuring you never languish there ever again?

1. Talk About What You’re Going Through

Whether it’s films, news stories or products, so it is stands to reason the same is true of change in our own lives. You can tap into the power of coaching here to get out of your own rut. The first thing I do with a new client is let them talk and talk and talk. No interruptions. Words spilling out like they can’t wait to escape.

The client often talks pretty much nonstop for 20 minutes, maybe a question here or there to help them keep going and dig deeper but, they talk until their shoulders sag and they often look shattered, worn out. It’s almost like a fog lifts and they look at me and usually say something like “Wow, where did all that come from?” or “Sorry, I’ve done your head in with my life haven’t i?”

While they may have an idea that something is wrong or life is not flying along as they’d love it to, rarely do they actually verbalize everything that they feel is going on.

Giving yourself permission to talk is very important. We are taught in 21st century life to not moan, to look for the positive, to be happy. Sometimes, it’s important to really process the other side of this. In doing this, you can really understand what is happening.

People often give me the biggest views into their mind when they least want to. In coaching, it’s often the flippant throw away statement that hides the real issues. The perfect example is a recent client who couldn’t see away out of their rut. And for some explanation, I asked “For what reason are you always on someone else’s path? Is it better over there? Is it safer? What’s going on?” The client looked at me in horror and said “How did you know?”

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Coaching has become a very spiritual practice for me and sometimes, I ask questions that feel like they are coming through me rather than out of me. Weird I know, but true. It’s these weird questions that usually really help clients. I’m probably just picking up on key words they’ve used repeatedly and then phrasing it in a way that resonates powerfully with the client.

Another great example was the client that told me about all the possibilities the future held for them, and how it made them feel trapped in a rut and they were fearful to escape. I asked “You know how in fog some people will choose not to go out; and others will take precautions to go out there but go slowly; and others carry on regardless and risk everything, which are you?”

They hadn’t once talked about fog, but it was a powerful visual that helped them to decide what they wanted. They realized they wanted to go forward, with caution and that created our plan.

For the client who was always on other people’s paths, they realized with tears in their eyes that they’d been petrified for years of getting it wrong. They constantly tried to copy everyone else, and we all know that is not the path to success, joy and happiness don’t we?

We created a plan of action and I drew a picture of a sign hammered into the grass saying, “Stick to your path!” It’s a visual reminder that helps ensure the client stays on track.

2. Build Yourself the Right Network

Network is your net worth. This has been a powerful phrase for me this year and resonates with so many. If you find that you get stuck in a rut or struggle to escape one, have a look around you. The people you work with, socialize with, even listen to on the radio or share your life with on your phone are all part of your network. And we worryingly seem to forget the value of this.

The network around you can either inspire and nurture you, or drag you down and keep you stuck.

Have a look at your social media feed, is it full of great ideas, happy faces, great news, beauty and joy? Or is it full of disturbing things happening on the other side of the world that you couldn’t possibly ever have an impact on, and moaning people complaining about governments and celebrities?

I’m not suggesting that you don’t take an interest and action on helping to shape the world we live in, however, I am saying you need to ask yourself what your social media feed does for you. How does it make you feel?

I asked this question recently on Facebook and was inundated with negative comments and sadness from people who found social media depressing and soul destroying. Interestingly, the ones that felt like me and loved social media felt connected to people around the world. I have social media friends on the other side of the world who I’ve never met but feel deeply connected to. We can share in joy; we can comfort when our world sees atrocities and we feel connected.

If your network doesn’t feel good for you, then change it. No one needs to know.

We can choose to control who is in our life physically and metaphorically, and that can drastically impact on our ability to get out of the ruts that come up in life.

Ever heard someone say:

“What do you want to do that for?”

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“That doesn’t sound like much fun, are you sure you want that?”

“You just don’t get it do you.”

“That can’t be done.”

These comments (and people) can damage your network’s net worth. The right people in your network do the very opposite, they are like the critical eureka moment in our favourite films where our stars realize what they can achieve.

There are so many people around the world I have never met and yet, we’ve helped each other on those dark “I can’t do this days.”

I’ve never been to Tucson, AZ. However, I know I’ve at least one friend there in Alicia from Energetic Life Healing. While we’ve never met, we both know we can get in touch if we want advice, support or a proverbial kick up the butt to get where we want to go in life. The right network makes such a difference to your ability to steer clear of the ruts of life.

3. Don’t Be Too Peoply*

*(Yes, I know it’s a made up word!)

People that try to enslave you to their thinking aren’t good for you. A great network respects you whatever you choose to think. Here in the UK, we have faced years of political unrest and divide, and for some, it has caused a big rut in their life;

“We will move house when Brexit is over.”

“I will set up my own business when Brexit is done.”

“It’s not practical to do that until Brexit is finished.

“We can’t make a decision yet because we don’t know what is going to happen.”

Too peoply is a saying a friend (funnily enough who started off as a social media friend is now a real friend) said to me once. If I am around people too much, it gets too peoply and I need a break.” When I asked about getting stuck in a rut online Abbie Thoms from Polyspiral Website Design said:

“I think we get caught up in our situations and forget to take a step back for some perspective.”

Spot on Abbie!

As my friend and Abbie have beautifully sussed, sometimes, the quickest way out of rut is to step back. When I feel stuck on a task or way forward, I know what I must do. A walk on the beach with my dog is important, so much so that I invested in a very expensive coat so that no matter what the weather or temperature I could still go for that walk. The sea air, the solitude and the sound of the waves always help me.

Always, without fail.

Ask yourself when life feels too peoply and you need a new perspective to move forward, what would be on your must do now list? A walk on the beach? Pottering in the garden? Baking a cake? Painting your nails? Daydreaming on YouTube? Reading a book? Even playing a pointless time-wasting game on your phone can be good.

With all of these actions, your brain is given a bit of space to process what you’ve been working on. So when you feel stuck what will your go to action be?

And please note, working on it some more, is not going to work!

4. Plan in a Way That Works for You

If you want to steer clear of a rut and get unstuck, you need to always plan. I like fluid plans, if I have a goal that I can visualize, I’m happy.

I don’t need to plan every action. I’ve learned (the hard way!) that if I plan every finite action, it doesn’t work for me; while some clients like everything listed down to details of what they are doing on what day of the week. I have clients that like Excel spreadsheets. Clients that like colourful mind maps. And clients that like mood boards or lists.

We are all so beautifully unique, so before you decide on your plan of action, decide how you will bring your plan alive!

This works so powerfully that for clients that love color. Without fail, brown is a disliked color, so I will ask the question in brown “What could stop you?” Because it’s a disliked question and a disliked color, they will work powerfully to steer clear of that result. Which links back to emotions which we talked about at the start. What emotions do you want to evoke when you look at your plan?

5. Don’t Plan Alone

Another reason a rut is so tough is because we try and fix it on our own. We think it’s the right thing to do, however the 21st Century is teaching us that personally and professionally, we achieve more, are happier, and less stressed if we open up. Planning with the right person or people ensures you:

  • Challenge yourself.
  • Don’t shy away from the things that frighten you.
  • Ensure you creatively think.
  • Ensure you add ideas that seem ridiculous or crazy.

And this helps you see the big picture in a new way. Which leads us onto…

6. Be Aware of Your Perceptions

There is a very good reason why a 2 hour conversation with me can completely change the way someone feels about their life, and who they are and it is down to perceptions.

Perceptions are what shape the world we live in. However, it has always fascinated me that two people can see the same film, party or place and feel completely different about it. Our perception of the world we live in and who we are is impacted on by our beliefs, values and experiences. Helping people to adjust their beliefs and respect their values and experiences is a fast way to getting a perspective that helps you instead of keeping you trapped.

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7. Realize That You’re Just Trapped in Limbo

If you help someone to explore their rut, it often can drag them down further. They feel trapped by circumstances and say things like:

It can’t be helped.

It’s just the way it is.

It’s just our current circumstances, when this is over we can…

Watch out for victim talk when it comes to ruts in your own life. Speaking from experience, it is not always easy, yet we can escape the most awful of situations however badly we feel trapped by what we choose to think. Lupus has isolated me from society and destroyed my social life. At times, I would cry because it felt like I was the only person in the world.

Just me and my dog.

If you’ve ever faced adversity or tough times out of your control, it can feel like a rut because you can’t find a way forward. The fastest way forward is not always putting one foot in front of another, it is by monitoring the quality of your thoughts.

I loved the book The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart. The true story of a Scottish soldier who faced some of the worse most horrific moments of the second world war. I saw an interview with him years ago where the interviewer asked Alistair “How did you keep going?” and Alistair talked about how they could do what they wanted to his body but they were never getting their hands on his mind!

This was the belief that changed my circumstances. Not medicine, or exercise or diet or friends, but just one thought. Which leads me to the next thing that ensures I never fall into a rut again…

8. Practice Gratitude

If you want to get out of a rut, another way to slay the victim mentality is to look for everything you love about your world. Everything you are honoured to have. Everything that makes you feel happy and loved. It is hard to feel trapped when you find yourself experiencing so many positive emotions.

Remember positivity is a great place to start when you want to change something in your life. Blind positivity is not much use, but positivity based on facts is.

Try these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

I’m more than happy to hear from Lifehack readers anytime, so do feel free to get in touch via my social media which you can access on my profile page. Let’s keep the conversation and the lifehacks going!

More to Help You Get Unstuck

Featured photo credit: Tai Jyun Chang via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Mandie Holgate

International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

How to Quit Your Unfulfilling Job and Lead Your Dream Career

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How to Quit Your Unfulfilling Job and Lead Your Dream Career

Doesn’t matter whether it’s a 9 to 5 job or you work in shifts; is it a satisfactory job?

Ain’t you tired of the monotony or should I ask:

Did you ever feel like quitting your unfulfilling job or changing your unfulfilling career?

Realizing your materialistic needs is important but do you love your means to earn bread?

Too many questions… I’m sure you want to answer none.

But don’t worry, most people are on the same leaky boat!

Wondering what’s wrong?

As a teenager, you dream; you aspire. You are exuberant enough to chase those crazy dreams.

But as you grow older, the zeal seems to fade away. That drop-down in intensity level sets a foundation for a compromise.

You don’t persist with even one dream.

What’s worse, you give different names to your choice to back out. You blame people and situations as per your convenience.

Alas! those vivid dreams lose to your sub-conscious mind.

But before you get disheartened, here’s an interesting fact:

The real Col. Sanders was an entrepreneur who didn’t become a professional chef until he was 40, didn’t franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 62, and didn’t become an icon until after he sold his company at 75.[1]

So yes, though it’s tough to quit your tiring job; it’s easier than you think.

And when you have realized your existing job is not leading to happiness, it’s time to change!

Desperate for super easy solutions?

Here’s a list of 19 simple actionable steps to quit your unfulfilling job and follow your aspiring career:

1. Step out of Your Comfort Zone

One big reason you are compromising today is your repulsion to challenge the boundaries of your comfort zone. You don’t want to raise the bar.

You move on subconsciously making emotional adjustments and self-harming sacrifices.

Not anymore; it’s time to challenge it!

The clock is ticking and you need to flow with time. That is how you welcome the new. It is one of the major steps in breaking the monotony of an unsatisfactory job.

Not sure about stepping out of your comfort zone still? Read this article: Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

2. Get Rid of the Memories from Your Existing Job

Most of the times, it is your past which doesn’t allow you to liberate yourself in the present. Your memories from the current job are dominant over your memories you want to create.

Come on! You are stronger than you think. You need to detach yourself from those sweet-sour memories. Only then, you could take a big leap towards self-realization.

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Here’s the deal:

A beautiful future awaits you where every moment is so blissful you’ll not recall the past to trigger a memory.

Learn how to let go of the past: 7 Ways To Let Go Of The Past And Live A Happy Life

3. Listen to Your Gut

The problem is everyone has access to the locker of your right-wrong beliefs, but not you. You listen to everyone and lose your conscious decision.

Why don’t you back yourself?

If you don’t love what you are doing and you want to quit your unfulfilling job, QUIT.

Why do you restrict yourself?

Only you have the answers to your uncertainties. Stop seeking answers from others. Ask yourself receptively. You’ll unlock all the mysteries about yourself.

Here’s some advice for you: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice

4. Get Excited to Fail

Sounds silly? It’s not:

Success is an elusive mask covering many lifeless faces of failures.

In case you don’t know, if Thomas Edison hadn’t failed, he might not have become America’s most well-known and prolific innovator.[2] And there are even more examples like this: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

The pursuit of your dream career is full of struggles and failures. And unless you are ready to fail many times, you are ineligible to succeed.

Only if you settle with your current job which is unsatisfying will you be a real failure. The excitement to fail on the other side is unmatched. Worth a shot!

5. Disallow Social Environment to Control You

If there were no cameras, every soul would tell an interesting story.[3]

I’m sorry but your social environment is bullying you. You have become a puppet to people.

People define your journeys and destinations, and you are losing big time.

Wake up call!

Cut the chord with your social environment which is not only polluting your personal but also your professional environment: Managing Your Social Network Addiction

6. Do Not over Analyze, Execute

Intelligent people are particularly prone to the overthinking that can cause analysis paralysis and lead to a failure to make decisions or take action.[4]

Yes, you are intelligent but you need to be smarter! Never allow your intelligence to become a hindrance in quitting your unfulfilling job.

Thinking and planning are important aspects of a visionary, but never allow overthinking to take a toll on the execution.

Take small steps rather than thinking about giant leaps. Divide your goal into small targets; make sure you achieve them.

Here’s how: Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

7. Make Your Family a Part of Your Dream

If you are fortunate enough to live with your family, you owe responsibilities towards them. After all, they are your father, mother, siblings, life-partner.

Maybe your dream career is something they haven’t heard about, but relax. Don’t expect magic overnight!

Be courageous enough to make them understand why you want to quit your unsatisfactory job.

You may fail big time but don’t lose hope. This is the absolute test of your endurance.

When you convince them, you don’t have to search for a support system in your failures. And a few applauds from them in your small wins keep you up and running.

8. Spend Time with Like-Minded People

To challenge the now and dive into the new, I’m afraid you’ll not find many people standing by your side.

But that’s fine!

Keep a close watch on people with whom you spend your precious time.

What you need to ask yourself:

Are these people your motivators or the ones who constantly try to put you down?

When you get an answer, trust it and go with the flow. You may lose people but you’ll discover yourself.

9. Prioritize Inner Happiness over Monetary Happiness

Possibly, there’s a big fat cheque between your unsatisfactory job and your aspiration. The choice is difficult!

You’ll agree money is not everything but the first thing to be happy. But if your job is not reviving and is killing your happiness, what are you waiting for?

Maybe your dream career isn’t as materialistically rich as your current job, but assuredly, it’ll make you spiritually content.

You have found out what will make you happy, so just go out there and get it: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

10. Learn to Say No

‘No’ is just a two-letter word, ever measured its intensity?

It is loud enough to make you a warrior. However, we don’t use it often.

Being on the receiving end of a no can be brutal, but saying yes to everything isn’t going to make up for that.[5]

Learn this art to quit your unfulfilling job! Not only with others but use it often with yourself. Any denial or a small sacrifice for your own good is a gateway to self-love. It boosts your self-esteem to disallow the negative influences to entice you. You find reasons to listen to yourself.

Leo Babauta has some suggestions on this: The Gentle Art of Saying No

11. Accompany Yourself in Your Alone Time

You encounter many moments in your daily life when there is no one around. What do you do in that alone time?

Either you retreat to the past or you drive to the future. What you don’t realize is your present requires an introspection.

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This ignorance is making you incomplete. Neither you are self-aware nor there is a clarity in your thought process.

The secret is when you spend alone time with yourself, your dream becomes your mission, and the inroads make way for beautiful roads. Your journey doesn’t need a navigator. And your questions have answers.

Use your alone time to do some self reflection: How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

12. Feel Fortunate for the Blessing

When most of us are fighting for the necessities of survival; you discovered your dream.

Where most of the people don’t get solitude time, you know what makes you blissful.

Yes… you are fortunate! How could you dump this wonderful opportunity?

There are many people who might replace you in your unfulfilling job. But make sure no one replaces you in the work you do the best.

13. Never Lie to Yourself

Confidence is imperative but if there is no transparency in your thought process, only confidence is a big disaster.

Self-acceptance is supreme in pursuance of your dream career.

You need to acknowledge your current standing and future goals.

You need to be brutally honest to yourself. Only then, there’s a clarity in your thought process.

Don’t blindly run towards your dream’s realization; walk on your aspiration-driven path consciously.

14. Become an Inspiration for Others

Amidst your uncertainties, someone is closely watching your actions and reactions.

Maybe your close friend or your younger sibling, there’s someone relating to you. They are curious about your next move.

But what do they seek from you? They silently urge you to take one brave move to open the floodgate.

Only you can break the shackles of their boring monotony. Because when you execute, they feel happy and liberated like you.

You become their unsung hero!

15. Realize Your Current Job Is Saturating You

Your current job is unsatisfactory. It cannot get worse. It is tiring and boring, it doesn’t release serotonin anymore.

And you know it!

You even know your exploration begins only when you quit your current job. What else can motivate?

Always remember:

You may do well in your existing job but you will create wonders on the other side. Go all in!

16. Segregate Your Dream into a Passionate Movement

You have a dream career in mind. But to follow it, you are not resilient to do what it takes to reach there.

You lose hope quickly!

Look:

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Neither dreaming is enough nor quitting your existing job is easy.

Only your passionate will is powerful enough to withstand the test of time. Let that fire burn inside you until your dream coincides with reality.

17. Pen down the Possible Positives

It’s super easy! But you are probably wondering:

How could such a small step be beneficial in quitting my unsatisfactory job?

Yes, it’s a small step but immensely powerful.

When you list down how quitting your unfulfilling job is a boon, trusting your decision becomes easier.

Any apprehensions at any point flush out when you recall those jotted positives of leading a dream career.

18. Break the Rules

There is no thumb rule or a particular mantra for success. It’s good to have idols. There’s no harm in following them. But what’s wrong is you compare your journey with them.

What you don’t realize is that you may share the same goal but the approach has to be different.

Never kill your originality trying to become like them.

Define your own journey. Never set a rule or a predefined path for success. Break-free!

19. Presume the Worst-Case Situation

Try to question yourself:

What will happen if you quit your unfulfilling job to lead to your dream career?

Is it your financial stability or an emotional dependency you are losing on? Whatever it is, imagining the worst-case scenario enables you to loosen up.

It provokes a nothing-to-lose attitude where there is no fear of anyone and anything. You move forward wholeheartedly with authority and devotion.

Your self-motivation is at cloud nine; you don’t fear the consequences anymore.

I hope any of these actionable techniques revive the feel you were about to lose.

Final Thoughts

You are a blessed soul who knows a couple of things more than most of the people:

Your current job is unfulfilling, and that you have a career-oriented dream.

But knowing about these isn’t enough!

Set yourself free as an individual and dive into the competition where your only competitor is you.

Life is too short to regret! Now when you have tasted the feeling of your chips being down, you deserve the magical feel to be on the other side of the table.

Always remember:

You are wrong only till the time you are struggling. But if you keep moving and taking those hard punches, one day you’ll realize your dream. With you, people realize everything about you were (and are) right!

More Useful Career Advice

Featured photo credit: Leonardo Yip via unsplash.com

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