The first thing you must do in avoiding getting stuck in a rut is to identify what a rut is and why you’re getting stuck there.
Let’s define “rut”.
A “rut” is defined as a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change. Perhaps stating that definition in more contemporary language will make it more clear: a rut is that ongoing blah feeling you have when your effervescence is gone and your good juju seems to be on hiatus.
A rut is synonymous with a boring routine, humdrum existence or dead end.
So what causes you to get stuck in a “rut”?
Your rut is not caused by your addiction to chocolate or the extra 10 pounds you’re carrying around. It’s actually the result of things in your life that are not in sync with what you truly want.
Creativity and Productivity Killer
Being stuck in a rut can kill your creativity and productivity and stress you out. Doing the same thing over and over again causes your days to become a blur. No day has any details that stand out from other days. That type of existence will drive you batty.
You’re constantly surrounded by chatter telling you the way you should be doing things, handling things or thinking about things. While it can be well-meaning, the chatter is overwhelming. The more you’re listening to outside chatter the harder it is for you to hear your own voice. The rut grabs you when you can no longer hear your own voice.
Your own voice is what you need to hear to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
There are 4 ways that are popular for silencing the outside chatter:
Meditate – You need to sit still so you can hear your voice.
Journal – Writing down your thoughts helps you to organize what your voice is telling you so it isn’t simply a stream of consciousness.
Communicate with your heart – Ask and then wait for a genuine answer from your heart. Sometimes it’s too honest for you to want to hear but that is when it is most important to keep listening.
Ground yourself – When you feel that you’ve gotten out of touch with reality and disconnected, put your feet back on the ground and reconnect. You can do this by getting some fresh air, taking a deep breath, or exercising. Something that refocuses you on what your voice is telling you.
Basically, digging out of a rut requires that you once again become in sync with yourself. So it makes sense that to avoid getting in a rut in the first place, you would frequently analyze where you stand with yourself and shut out the outside chatter before it drowns out your voice.
That sounds really easy but it’s even easier to let yourself slide, forgetting to stay connected to your heart. It takes determination and confidence to push the chatter aside and listen to your own voice.
Healthy Routine Syncs You Up
Creating a healthy routine helps to keep you in sync with your voice.
We don’t mean one of those routines that is so mundane that you sink into a rut.
Don’t create a routine that eliminates choices, requires no thought and slowly bores you too death.
We do mean a routine that conserves your mental energy while also keeping you stimulated enough to stay in sync with your voice and avoid getting stuck in a rut.
There are 3 strategies that can help you create a healthy routine:
- Get your head out of the weeds and examine the bigger picture.
Your tendency is most likely to run from one activity to the next without ever stepping back to even consider if everything you’re doing are where you really want to spend your time and energy. Does the old phrase chicken with its head cut off sound like you? If so, devote 10 minutes (at least) each day to examining the bigger picture in your life so you can determine if you’re in sync with your voice.
Good questions for your 40-foot analysis:
- Are your activities aligned with your goals and values?
- Do your activities add value?
- Do they have meaning and purpose?
- Schedule leisure time.
Don’t allow your leisure time to be simply the time you have leftover. If that is so, you’ll never have leisure time because you’ve packed your schedule so full that you have no time to spare. Plan time to do something purely for the enjoyment of it.
Schedule and do something fun each week. Whether for 30 minutes or 3 hours, letting your brain relax opens up the opportunity for creativity and innovation.
- Challenge yourself.
Staying in a comfort zone may reduce your anxiety, but it can also lead you directly into a rut. Challenge yourself to try something new. You don’t have to sky dive or repel down the Empire State Building, but you can find activities that get you outside of that oh-so comfortable zone and help you grow. These challenges can be personal and professional. Take a class, or put yourself into situations to meet new people. Learn a new skill or join the choir. Dare to become a little better today than you were yesterday. You will find yourself growing.
It isn’t rocket science. A being stuck in a rut means you’re staying in one place. Listen to your voice and move it and you won’t have to worry about ruts.