Stuck in a rut? Here’s what to do.

stuck in a rut

Written by Annie

Annie shares content that focuses on inspiring and encouraging you to dial up the feelings of happiness, meaning and purpose in your life – using easy and personalised life goals.

February 17, 2022

Being stuck in a rut can feel really disheartening. You can feel stuck on a Groundhog Day loop. And it’s not a good day. It’s dull and uneventful.

Unfortunately, one of the first challenges in this situation can be that we don’t realise what is going on. We know that we aren’t happy. But, often we can’t pinpoint why.

How did we get stuck in a rut?

Our brains love routine. Comfortable routines satisfy one of our basic needs for safety.

But if we are not careful – our routine (and lives) can become boring and unfulfilling. This can happen when we: 

  • Forget to make plans and goals that are important to us
  • Don’t prioritise looking after ourselves
  • Don’t have activities in our lives that feel purposeful and happy

What does being stuck in a rut feel like?

Here are some common signs you may be stuck in a rut

  • You feel unmotivated and unfulfilled
  • You want to change but you feel scared or don’t know where to start
  • Everyday feels the same
  • You don’t feel excited or inspired

In my life – I have found the following situations to be indicative of a rut:

  • You can’t honestly answer the question “how are you?”
  • You find yourself looking for activities that numb your days (eg. TV, alcohol)
  • The highlight of your day or week is it being over
  • You feel like the things you secretly want can’t be possible for you

How do we get unstuck? 

If you have realised you are stuck in a rut – there is no need to worry. You can start the wheels turning to get yourself unstuck.

Here are some common recommendations for getting unstuck

  • Get out of denial and accept you have responsibility to change things
  • Uncover the reason you are feeling this way
  • Start doing everything you know you should to change the situation
  • Create healty habits to move you forward
  • Take on a challenge to prove to yourself you can do what it takes
  • Get the support you need

However, I thought I would give you some detail about some of my recommendations for when you are feeling like you need to get your life unstuck.

Know that it is okay to feel like this

The first step is to accept it is okay to feel like this. Most (if not all) of us have been there. 

It is important not to be hard on yourself. This will just perpetuate negative feelings (and you have had enough).

This is a good time to be thankful you have realised the problem and excited you can start making steps towards a life you love. 

Give yourself a boost

The first action step I would recommend is to give yourself a boost to shake this up. A happiness boost if you will. 

This is a great opportunity to spice things up and create some excitement and motivation to move things forward.

Here are some examples you could try to start feeling unstuck:

  • Change up your hair style 
  • Visit a different city
  • Volunteer
  • Work out with a personal trainer
  • Be impulsive

Here are a few things that I know work for me in this situation:

  • Make a plan in the future you can look forward to
  • Do or try something new (eg. go somewhere you haven’t been or eat food you’ve never tried)
  • Learn something new (this can be as easy as getting on YouTube or maybe enrolling in a class you have been thinking about)
  • Go outside for a walk. Pay attention to everything around you (sights, smells and sounds)

Related post: A low effort happiness boost for those inevitable days

Think about how you can move forward

Now you may know you are stuck in a rut, but, you might not know what to do about it.

Below are some suggestions to help you find what that next step will be.

Start getting unstuck with a life audit

One exercise that may be helpful to you is to do a life audit:

  • Pick a typical couple of days out of your week
  • Record the activties you do from the moment you wake up until bed time
  • Now take out three colours and highlight
    • The things that bring you excitement and joy – in one colour
    • The things you enjoy doing – in the second colour
    • The things you might not enjoy doing that much but they bring you a sense of contentment and purpose – in the last colour
    • Then everything left are the “nothing good” activities
  • What you have now is a heat map of how much of your typical days are spend on happiness, purposeful & “nothing good” activities
  • How do you feel about this balance?
  • What needs to change?

Pick an area of your life to improve

Another activity that may help you is the Wellness Wheel. 

This activity provides you with a holistic picture of the important segments in your life and which areas could need some TLC to help you feel unstuck.

You can find out the details in this post: Wellness wheel activity equals game changer

Move towards YOUR definition of success

Something else you could think about is the fact you now know what a “stuck” life looks like. But, do you know what a “successful” life looks like for you?

The best way to understand your personal definition of success – is to take a step back and reflect on what is truly important to you.

This means understanding your values and what brings you meaning and purpose.

You can find out more about your personal definition of success in this free course.

Use goals the right way

Now you have found something you want to improve – it is time to start working on it.

You want to keep creating forward momentum. But you want it to be the right momentum done in the right/easiest way.

The key is to start small. Start with one tiny step. Once you have completed that – you can move on to the next.

Create a momentum of positive change. This allows you to celebrate success and build motivation.

Related post: How to set goals – 3 easy tips

Always get the support you need 

When you start working on your goals getting support and encouragement from your friends and family is a great way to be accountable.

If you are having trouble getting started on your goals reaching out to professional coaches or therapists is also a great move.

But most importantly. If you feel stuck in your life and unable to do anything about it – reach out to a medical professional to get the support you need. Feeling stuck in life can be a sign of depression so never hesitate to reach out if you are feeling concerned.

Be kind to yourself

This journey to get unstuck is going to take some work. So, it is important to be kind to yourself throughout the process. 

Make sure you have self-care activities in your routine that will support your physical and mental health.

Watch for unhelpful thoughts

Part of moving forward and pushing through the comfort zone you have created for yourself will be the battle you have with your brain.

It will be doing its best to keep you comfortable and safe but giving you unhelpful thoughts and doubts.

The important thing is to remember these are only thoughts (and not facts).

Thank your brain for trying to keep you safe. But, remember not to buy into those thoughts. Just pay attention to the thoughts that will help and support you to make the positive changes you want and deserve.

Start. Today.

Now you should be fully armed with information that supports you to get yourself out of a rut.

But, the key is to start. Now.

So, let me help you. To begin with – I invite you to answer this question: 

What are three things you are grateful for in your life right now?

This should boost your positivity.

Now, think about something new and different you have been thinking about doing recently? (Hint: going somewhere new, trying something new, learning something etc)

Okay – now do it! Right now. Go do it or book it in or make a solid plan (and stick to it!). 

Congratulations! You have started to get yourself unstuck! 

See you later Groundhog day!

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