5 Fun & Easy Ways To Get Out Of The Rut

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel less than great. Low, grouchy, fed-up, and bored are all words you could use to describe what I’m like on those days and I’m probably not the best company. The thing is, days like those are part of the deal with being human – it’s not an elective. There will always be off days, and that’s okay.

But what happens when you get a whole string of those off-days, maybe lasting weeks, months or even years? Too many of us say that we’re in a rut, feel stuck, fed-up, or bored and admit that we don’t want things to be that way, but we don’t know what to do to change. That’s the problem, when you’re in a rut, you don’t have the energy or motivation to change things for the better, and it’s tough to find the insight or resources you need to make that jump.

Here are five fun and easy ways you can use right now to climb, or better yet, leap, out of the rut and start to get something better for yourself.

1. Do Something Differently
Life tends to run smoothly when we establish systems and routines for things, but the problem comes when things run too smoothly and we become blinded to any ideas or choices that sit outside of our routine. All the stuff we do every day becomes the norm, running on auto-pilot, and it becomes our whole world.

Start with making one or two simple changes to your day – be it at breakfast time, your radio station, gym routine, route to work, lunch routine, etc. Don’t worry about what the changes are or whether they’re right or wrong, just make a couple of simple choices that will serve you well.

Doing something differently or changing parts of your routine, instantly takes you out of the norm and allows you to shake off the things that make you feel confined. Step out of your routine and you’ll be in a position where you’re able to make different choices, see things differently and get a different result.

2. Use your Intuition

Your intuition is a powerful ally, and we all have it even though you might not recognize it. The dictionary says that intuition is:

1.a. The act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition.

1.b. Knowledge gained by the use of this faculty; a perceptive insight.

2. A sense of something not evident or deducible; an impression.

One of the best friends you’ll ever have in life is your intuition, and tuning in to it and learning to trust it is something that can have some truly remarkable effects. Accessing your intuition is a bit like working and developing a muscle, but unfortunately it can be harder to locate than a bicep or quadricep, which tend to stay in the same place. Here are some quick tips for accessing and trusting it –

• Practice maintaining an open-minded, playful, experimental, non-judgmental attitude. This is the most fertile ground to tap into your intuition.

• Practice making wild guesses in your everyday life. Guess what a salesperson’s name is, what a new person or place will look like or who’s calling on the phone. Don’t worry about getting it wrong, you’re just working that muscle.

• Try a few simple observation exercises in your daily life. Whether you’re in a restaurant, on a train, in a bar, or out shopping, practice noticing non-verbal behavior in others. Look for shifts in posture, eye movements, vocal tone or tempo, etc. Guess how they’re feeling or what they’re talking about.

3. Nourishment

Imagine you’re walking home from the supermarket with a couple of bags of groceries, but those bags have holes in them. You’re walking along merrily leaving a trail of your things behind you, but when you get home you unpack what’s left and ask, “Didn’t I have more than this?”

Nourishment is about plugging those holes in your life and making sure you have things that keep you feeling nourished – nourished in your head, nourished in your heart, and nourished in your stomach. Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have, and can’t spend energy you’ve already spent.

It doesn’t have to be the big things in life that nourish you and it’s often the simplest little thing that strikes a chord, makes you feel like yourself again, or makes you smile from ear to ear – calling a friend, talking a walk in the park, or listening to your favorite song, for example. So what keeps you balanced? What relaxes you or makes you feel peaceful? What makes you feel like you again?

The fact is that you’re important enough to spend time taking care of yourself and it doesn’t matter what it is, just take the time to do it. If necessary, go as far as booking time in your diary. You’re the only one of you there is, so it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re okay.

4. Perfect Day

Here’s something to play with – your Perfect Day. This idea came to me a few years ago when a good friend suddenly asked me “What would be your perfect day?” I’d never been asked that before and I found myself spontaneously making up a story – telling her about my Perfect Day from the moment my eyes flickered open to the moment my head hit the pillow.

I went through each part of the day telling her what I was doing, who I was with, where we were, how it felt and what happened next. Bit by bit and without even thinking about it, I’d put together a rich, colorful, exciting, and comforting day, which still holds true as my Perfect Day. The best part is that you can start introducing little bits of your Perfect Day into your real life or working to make some of it happen. For example, in part of my Perfect Day I visit a company where I’m helping the directors and employees to focus on their strengths and to create a environment where people love to work and can be their best – and that was even before I knew that there was such a thing as coaching or that I could be a coach. My Perfect Day has now become like a good friend of mine whom I can call on whenever I want to.

So what’s your Perfect Day? Don’t think too much about it and don’t worry about it sounding silly or too grand. Just shoot from the hip and see what comes out naturally for you. Write down words, ideas, themes or a whole narrative – even draw pictures if you want to. Have fun with it, play with it – it’s your Perfect Day.

5. Get Some Fun, Fulfilment and Freedom

The Three F’s – Fun, Fulfilment, and Freedom – encompass a lot of what people are looking for in life, and also contain the solutions to having, doing and being those things. Here are some definitions,

Fun, n. – A source of enjoyment or pleasure; playful activity.

Ful-fil’ment, n. – To bring into actuality; to complete; a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires.

Free-dom, n. – The capacity to exercise choice, free will; frankness or boldness; the absence of constraint in choice or action.

Read those again. Those things are huge, deep, and broad, and are a lot simpler than we make them.

Where are you in relation to each of the Three F’s? How much of each do you have right now? How much of each do you want? Whatever gap there is, recognize that it can be closed, and that you can close it. What would things be like if you were to close that gap? What would happen if you climbed a point or two on the Fun scale? What if you could add a point to your level of Fulfilment or Freedom? How would that feel? Pretty good, right? So what one thing can you do right now to help you get more?

By themselves each of the Three F’s are a powerful thing, and can really help to move you forward, enjoy where you are, and feel alive. But when the Three F’s come together . . .well, just hold on to your hat and keys.

Rut? What rut?””

Are You Focusing On What You Really Want?

Imagine you’re happily driving down a country road on a clear, sunny day. Suddenly a semi truck crosses the center line and is heading right at you. Heart pounding and adrenaline rushing, you react. Will you avert disaster? Maybe. Maybe not. In this moment, your life depends on where you focus.

Professional driving instructors tell us that what people usually do in emergency situations is to stay focused on the object they are trying to avoid. In driving, where your eyes and mind are focused is most often where you will steer.

Unfortunately, if you were focused on the truck in the situation above you would likely steer right into it. The route to safety is to focus on where you want to go. In this case, you’d look away from the truck to a place that’s safer. You would then automatically steer the car in that direction. Safe!

You may be wondering, “What the heck does that have to do with creating more pleasure, passion, and purpose in my life?”

My response is “A great deal!” As in the example of the truck, your life depends on where you focus.

Focusing on What You Don’t Want Steers You to More of That

Often when we are feeling stuck, dissatisfied, confused, or unhappy we are focused on what we DON’T want. We are looking at the truck we’d like to avoid.

We’re thinking or saying “I don’t want to be in this miserable job another day” or “I don’t want to work on this project” or “I don’t want to have pizza for dinner tonight.”

From the big events to the small details in life, we tend to put a lot of our thoughts and attention on precisely what we don’t want.

So, what’s the problem with that? Well, it’s kind of like steering your car into the truck. The more you focus on what you don’t want, the more you head in that direction.

Your mind is wired to create whatever you focus on.

Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and Maxwell Maltz’s “Psychocybernetics” are two classic books on this subject. These and other researchers tell us that the mind can’t tell the difference between something you’re thinking about that you want and something you’re thinking about that you do not want.

Whatever you think about, your mind goes to work to make that happen.

Getting More of What You Really Do Want

If you’d like to get more of what you want in life (pleasure, passion, purpose), shift your focus away from what you don’t want and clearly, purposefully towards what you do want.

Your mind will go to work creating that. You’ll get unstuck. Your energy will increase. Solutions, alternatives, and options will come to you more easily.

Here’s a recent personal example. At the end of a long day, I was getting ready to prepare dinner. I’d been grocery shopping and had the ingredients for three complex dishes I hadn’t made before.

Hungry and tired, I reviewed the recipes but quickly became frustrated and overwhelmed. I started saying to myself “I don’t want to make these dishes. I don’t want this to be so hard. I don’t want these recipes to be so complicated.”

Those thoughts increased my agitation. I felt stuck and upset. Then I took a deep breath. I asked myself, “What do I really want in this situation right now?” (Besides a personal chef!)

The answer was “I want to make a healthy and great tasting dinner in a way that is fast and easy for me.”

I quickly saw a solution I’d been unable to see minutes before: make only one of the new dishes that night along with a simple salad and save the other new recipes for another evening.

So that’s what I did. The cooking was less stressful and the food turned out great. I switched from what I didn’t want to what I did want. And it worked!

Are you focused on what you want or what you don’t want?

I know many (maybe most) of us have an ingrained habit pattern that focuses us on what we don’t want. Changing this pattern can be challenging. And I’ve seen with myself and my clients that it’s definitely worth doing!

In Your Life

The more you focus on what you do want, the more pleasure, passion, and purpose you will create in your life. Focus on the clear road ahead, not on the truck coming at you. Try experimenting with this.

1) When you’re feeling stuck, stressed, worried, angry, unhappy, or upset, become aware of what you’re focusing on. You may be focusing on exactly what you don’t want.

2) As soon as you notice you’re focusing on what you DON’T want, ask yourself, “What DO I want in this situation?”

3) Purposefully and intentionally, change your focus to and keep your focus on what you do want.

4) Repeat as needed.

Enjoy!