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Published on September 8, 2020

Stuck in a Rut? 5 Ways to Get Out and Move Forward

Stuck in a Rut? 5 Ways to Get Out and Move Forward

There’s are few things more frustrating than being stuck in a rut.

The wheels are spinning, but you’re not getting anywhere. Like the whole world is moving around you, and you’re stuck in place. And the harder you try to get out, the more stuck you feel. It’s exhausting, yes.

Unfortunately, we all get stuck in a rut from time to time. A surprise or challenging circumstance pops up in our road of life, and we end up off the road and stuck in a ditch.

Whether you’re feeling unmotivated, down, or trapped in a pattern, we need to dig ourselves out of the mud and back into momentum.

Here are five simple and effective ways to get out of that rut and start moving forward:

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1. Engage Your Body

Whenever we’re spinning our wheels but not moving forward, it means we’re stuck in our head, thinking of actions without being in the vehicle that can take those actions.

Physiologically, exercise increases our brain’s production of dopamine. This neurotransmitter helps us to feel motivated and take action in life.[1] It also helps stimulate alpha brainwaves [2] which are associated with less anxiety and more relaxation. That allows us to think creatively and come up with new solutions.[3]

So, when you feel stuck, stop overthinking and start engaging the body. You may choose to hit the gym, do a few pushups, walk around the neighborhood, or even dance in your living room, for instance. Moving your body can help you get unstuck and start doing something productive again.

2. Talk (Or Write) It Out

We often cycle around the same thoughts over and over again when we can’t take another step forward. But it’s challenging to break this cycle because we can’t see that we’re even in one.

Once we speak the words out loud to a friend, therapist, or coach, or put them down on a piece of paper, we can separate from those thoughts and start to identify the patterns that keep us stuck.

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Often, just hearing ourselves say the words or seeing them in our journal can help us to think about our situation in a new light. The added benefit of speaking to another person (whom we trust) is that we get to hear their feedback or advice as well.

3. Start Easy

Sometimes, taking any action is entirely overwhelming. Most of our daily activities are a composite of a whole bunch of actions that we group together. When we’re exhausted from trying to get out of a rut, we don’t have extra energy to spare.

For example, “getting ready” in the morning may sound simple, but it consists of a long list of actions. After all, you need to get out of bed, take a shower, brush your teeth, and dress up.

Doing all that might feel overwhelming when you’re in a rut, so start with the easiest step possible. Just get out of bed and feel proud of it — that will not pressure you into doing the other things on the list right away.

Similarly, entire books are written with just one word, followed by the next. Exercise happens with a small movement and then the next. Big projects are finished with one tiny action after another.

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Then, celebrate each small step that you accomplish. You don’t need to focus on speeding through everything. Instead, you have to do the most straightforward step that will help you start moving once more.

4. Try Something New

The thing about spinning your wheels without moving forward is that we know its outcome.

Doing the same activities on the loop isn’t going to change that.

When you’re stuck in a rut, therefore, try something new. It doesn’t have to make sense or even seem directly related. It can be as simple as saying hi to a stranger each day, getting a new haircut, or changing up our morning routine.

What we choose to try matters a lot less than the fact that we’re willing to shake things up.

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The worst that can happen is that we don’t move forward. But if we’re willing to try a new strategy and experiment like scientists, it will be easy to figure out what can motivate us to move forward.

More often than not, a significant life change comes from that.

5. Get Lots of Support

Being stuck in a rut causes us to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re doing nothing because we don’t see outward movement. However, in actuality, spinning our wheels is a physically and emotionally exhausting process.

To get out of it, we need to get the support of every kind from others. It can be from friends who we can text or chat with during an emergency or counselors who can assist you when it comes to nourishing movement, essential oils, baths, massage, herbs, medication, etc.

Very few people can get out of a ditch themselves. So, there’s no shame in accepting whatever support is necessary to get out of that rut. In truth, it’s the only way to set yourself free.

Bottom Line

We may find ourselves in a rut at one point or another. Sometimes, it happens for a short period; other times, it takes you for the long haul. Either way, it’s critical to have simple yet useful tools to help us get back on the open road.

More on Getting Unstuck

Featured photo credit: Lindsay Henwood via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mike Iamele

Mike Iamele is a writer, life purpose expert, and brand strategist who helps people map their sensitivities to discover their purpose.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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