Are You in a Rut?

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Are You in a Rut?

How to Get Out of a Rut

            Do you feel like you’re stuck in life? Like even though it’s only February, you’ve already failed on some (or all) of those New Year’s resolutions you were so bold in announcing to everyone on January 1st? Maybe you just feel like you should have accomplished more by this stage of the game. Well, we’ve all been there. The good news is, the fact that you’re taking the time to assess your decisions and achievements is a strong signal that you’re not in a rut. You want to change. You want to develop your skills, your relationships, and your personal potential.

Let’s Climb Inside Our Heads for a Moment, Shall We?

Ask yourself the following questions…

®    Am I falling into the comparison trap? One of the number one landmines we willingly step on is to spend hours every day comparing ourselves to others on social media. That it’s bad for our mental health is no secret, but it’s also not a deterrent. By now, we all know that people only post the very best pictures on their accounts. Sometimes people take hundreds of photos to get that one perfect one they’re posting. And that final photo is usually heavily filtered. So get off social media and make your own life! It’s fine to be on there but find balance. A good rule of thumb is to stay off if you’re feeling depressed or stuck in a rut. The answer isn’t found within someone else’s account. It is found within you.

®    Am I hung up on the past? One of the reasons we get down or depressed is because we’re hung up on the way things used to be. Either a place we used to live, an old boyfriend or girlfriend, a nuclear family that no longer exists, or a car we wish we never sold. Life is constantly changing. If you look at it the way Buddhists do, you can find comfort in that knowledge because, while the good times don’t last, neither do the bad. If the person or thing you’re hung up on is a situation you have some control over fixing or changing, then do it! By all means, do it now. But if it’s gone in the truest sense of the word, try being thankful for the experience, and then focus on the NOW and the days you have ahead. There are still very good times to be had, but you can’t see all the good things ahead if you’re too busy looking in the rearview mirror.

®    Are my goals too unrealistic? There’s an overused phrase, “You can be anything you set your mind on.” That’s total BS, and we know it. If you’re a double amputee, you can’t be a ballet dancer or a Navy pilot. You just can’t. So a better way to phrase it would be to say, “You can achieve just about any realistic goal if you work hard enough.” The keywords are “just about” and “realistic.” You simply cannot reach some dreams no matter how much you want them. One more thing worth noting. Ask yourself if this thing that’s troubling you is really your dream or if the reason for the struggle is that your heart isn’t in it. Maybe you’re in law school because that’s just what the kids in your family do. The problem is, you want to be a graphic artist. You get the point.

No One is a Complete Failure! Let’s Admit We’ve Done Some Things Right!

Ask yourself the following questions…

®    Am I kind? Do you hold the door for strangers? Let someone go in front of you in line at Target because they have one item and your cart is full? Smile at babies. Text your sister Happy Birthday? When faced with the choice to extend kindness or evil, do you choose the former? If so, take a minute and give yourself some credit for those times.

®    Do I try? Are you putting out at least some effort in life? Studying, even though you could put a little more time in it? Getting a shower every day? Working on your personal relationships rather than shutting down? If you put out honest effort, then you can relax and rest in the knowledge that everyone feels like a failure sometimes. It is a momentary feeling that will pass. In the meantime, try to acknowledge the daily efforts you make to be a quality person.

®    What do I get the most compliments about? The answer to climbing out of your rut may be in considering the compliments people give you most often. Do your friends tell you that you’re a good artist? A great singer? Do teachers consistently tell you that you have a knack for writing? Or speaking? Has everyone in your family always said you should try modeling? Take a moment and think about what you hear most often because it might be something that can pull you out of a rut. That “thing” might be something you can focus on a little harder moving forward. It might bring you a tremendous amount of joy since you’re obviously good at it.

Listen to the Rut…He’s Annoying, But He May Have a Point…

Ask yourself the following questions…

®    What is the rut telling me? The thing about feeling stuck is that it is a very telling feeling. This part is important!!!! Narrow in on which particular area(s) of your life isn’t working the way you’d hoped. When people say, “Life sucks,” what they really mean is that one or two areas of their lives suck. Maybe you’re broke, but you have a great girlfriend, a Dad that would do anything for you, and you’re getting great grades. Maybe you can’t pass your driver’s test, but you’re awesome at guitar, received a scholarship, and have a fun part-time job. Get hyper-specific on which area of your life isn’t working, and then create a plan for change. The more specific you get, the better your chance of seeing improvement. You first have to identify the elephant in the room.

®    Is it time to let go of certain goals? Like we touched on earlier, maybe some goals are not going to happen. Maybe if you’re realistic, you still wouldn’t be happy if they did happen. If you want to be the lead singer in a successful band, graduate with honors, get six-pack abs by summer, and drive a new Dodge Charger, chances are some of those might need to wait, or be taken out of the equation altogether. You just can’t give 100% to all of those things. Something will suffer. So it’s better to narrow in on the most important one(s) and let the rest go for now.

®    What is the most important thing in my life that needs changing? Ultimately, there is one thing that is bothering you more than all of the others. That’s your ticket out of the rut. Figure out that one thing, and create an immediate action plan to remedy the issue.

A Little Less Talk, and a Lot More Action!

Ask yourself the following questions…

®    What is ONE action step I can take right now? Do something right now, today, this minute, to get the ball rolling. Call about that job you interviewed with last week. Apologize to the friend you offended. Ask the girl out. Put down your phone and study for that test. Just do any one thing now to build some quick momentum.

®    Is there anyone in my life that can help me? Pick your phone back up. Text or call one person right now who can help you. Maybe they have the connections you need. Maybe they’re just a good listener. Just reach out for help so you stop feeling alone and overwhelmed.

®    Where is a pen? It’s been said that a goal that isn’t written down is a pipe dream. I agree. Write it down, big, and post it somewhere that you’ll see it every single day. You’d be surprised how powerful that one act is.

Good Luck! Remember, we all feel stuck sometimes. But it’s actually our mind’s way of telling us we’re still in the game, we still care enough to want to better our lives. That’s a good thing!

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