Recognizing a rut
What does a rut look like and feel like?
“Stuck in a rut” is an idiom that means being mired in routine. The figurative phrase calls to mind the image of a wagon wheel hopelessly trapped in a deep rut on an unpaved road. It feels like nothing is changing, that your life is the same all the time. Basically, it is a fixed, usually boring routine. You can be in a rut in relationships, at work, in exercise or diet. Ever had that feeling that you were going nowhere? Just spinning your wheels? That every day was the same? When you are out of inspiration and ideas, you are stuck in a rut. How can you get out of it ? How can you get back to being creative, energetic, enthusiastic?
- Remember what you want. Do you want to participate in a marathon? Do you want THAT more than you want the doughnut at work? How about free time on the weekend? Do you want that enough to do laundry during the evening during the week?
- Listen to your gut, your instinct. I have found that when I feel a situation isn’t right for me, I should trust that feeling. If something comes up that is a little out of your comfort zone, but you are interested in it, take a chance and do it. You may find out something about yourself or your hidden abilities!
- Look at your to-do list and start on small tasks. Clearing off your list can help make room for new ideas, new projects, and new ideas. It can also give you energy, believe it or not. Sometimes simply getting moving in ANY direction can help you refocus.
- Work on a self-improvement project. No, I don’t mean a DIY house project or anything similar. I mean, improve YOURSELF. Read a book outside of your normal interests or even one on a subject you are interested in but don’t know much about. Write a letter to the editor. Take an online course; there are a lot of them available from mainstream universities online and FREE. Take a class at the community college. Go to a seminar.
- Talk to a friend or go out to dinner or a movie. Sometimes getting out and about and spending time with others can get your mind off of the rut and help you break out of it.
- Get some exercise. Not only may that spur new ideas and energy, it will improve your overall health and sleep.
- Break your pattern by doing something that you wouldn’t normally do. If someone asks you to go to an ethic restaraunt that you haven’t been to or t see a movie of a genre that you don’t usually choose, say YES instead of no.
- Amazingly enough, helping someone else can help you. If you simply cannot think of a way to get out of the rut, help out in a soup kitchen, clean out the closet and donate to a veterans’ group or local charity.
- Don’t worry so much about mistakes. If you try too hard to avoid failure, you will avoid success as well. Learn from your mistakes; that is how you grow and develop good ideas and stimulate creativity, rather than stifling it.
- Remember that “this too shall pass.” Everything passes, given enough time. If you are in a rut, remember that you will move through this; there will be brighter days ahead.
- Check your diet; sometimes eating too much junk, drinking too many things that are bad for you can make you feel stuck or uncomfortable. Check it out and try eating a little healthier, changing a little at a time.
- Try a change of scenery – something simple like a walk in a natural area or as involved as a vacation. Change your location and your surroundings. Sometimes that is all it takes to jolt you back to creativity. In addition, time away from the tasks at hand can give your mind the break it needs.
- Believe it or not, doodling helps. Draw simple drawings or repetitive designs on a notepad for a little while. Do it every day. Do it when you are listening to someone or while watching TV. You will be surprised at how well this works to jump-start creativity. Check out “zen doodling” or “zen doodles” or “doodle art” online – you will find a lot of ideas.
- Go for a long drive and listen to loud music.
- Listen to some TED talks.
- If your rut is diet, buy a new cook book. Try a new type of food. Try a new spice or ingredient. Go to a new restaurant or try a new dish at your favorite restaurant.
- When you are at the grocery store, pick up a vegetable or fruit that you’ve never tried before.
- To keep weight loss continuing or to get off a weight loss “plateau,” change up your exercise routine. Make sure you do different types of exercise: walking, basketball, racquet ball, aerobics, et cetera.
- Learn something new. Pick up a new hobby, take an online course, go to a seminar.
- Set some goals. Find something that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, set a goal and a time to accomplish it, and then break the goal down into smaller steps. The goals don’t have to be large to start with; accomplishing anything, even a small goal, will help.
- If you are in a relationship rut, do something with your partner that is out of the ordinary. If you don’t go to the theater, find something local and go. Try out the local symphony. Go to see a local sports team play. Buy a conversation starter pack (cards with conversation starters) and try that. Surprise your partner with a night out on the town – or even out of town!
- Attend a lecture with your partner – then go discuss it over coffee or dessert.
- Go out to dinner, try a new cuisine – and TURN OFF THE CELL PHONES! Talk to each other, hold hands, go for a walk.