When you picture a rut what do you see? I visualize a literal rut in the road. A hole. A ditch. Something that’s carved out beneath the ground. I guess I picture a hole so deep that my tire can’t get out of it without something stable underneath it—a solid foundation.
The last time I hit a rut, I was on my way up to a ski trip in the mountains with friends. I had planned the entire vacation and decided to take my Jeep, so I could carry most of the food and gear. About 5 miles from the cabin, just as I was reflecting about how beautiful the world looked under a blanket of snow, I hit a ditch and my tires got stuck.
The first thing that went through my head was, how could this happen? I had everything planned! I understand that life is unpredictable, but c’mon! I had done everything I could to avoid something like this.
What do you do when you hit an emotional rut in your life? Run for the hills? Try to fix it right away?
Read on to find out 3 easy ways to embrace where you are and figure out how to get out of a rut, so you can pull yourself out of the mud. You may be surprised about how getting out of a rut can teach you about life.
How To Get Out Of A Rut
There’s a Buddhist joke that goes like this: If you want to hide treasure, where is the best place to hide it?… In the present moment!
Why? Because no one ever thinks to look there. The reality is we are all living in the past or present. Being engaged in your own life means that you say, “I’m here. I’m paying attention.”
We have to fully embrace and love where we are. Here’s where it gets tricky. Because being in a rut is totally frustrating and even a little bit depressing.
Being stuck can cause stress, which is a biological response that triggers inflammation and cellular aging in our bodies. What almost no one understands is how every rut is for our own benefit. Which means that instead of asking yourself how to get out of a rut, understand and love the place you’re in. It’s in our nature to be imperfect and ruts can teach us valuable life lessons.
7 Signs You May Be In A Rut
If we dismiss our hard times, we lose out on an opportunity to dig deep and discover the lessons that exist there.
If you’re reading this and wondering whether or not you’re in a rut, here are 7 signs that you might be trying to cope with or block out uncomfortable feelings:
- You eat more or less than usual
- You put things off you need to accomplish
- You feel bored
- You dream about escaping your life
- You don’t feel creative or passionate
- You have trouble getting up in the morning
- You aren’t excited about life
Going through a challenging time is a reminder that you’re human. These experiences can give us a reality-check, so you can start living the life you want to live.
How To Get Your Groove Back In 3 Simple Steps!
But worry not, here are 3 simple ways to work through your rut and get your groove back!
These are easy but effective ways to practice self-awareness and use your time in the rut in a positive way!
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Step 1: Awareness
Ruts can easily make us feel lost or sad. The irony is that when we are stuck in a rut, many of us work harder than ever to get out of the rut, spinning our wheels even faster and harder. Because we’ve been taught that hard work will carry us out of difficult times. But, bring your mind back to the image of a tire stuck deep in mud. What happens when the wheels spin faster and faster? It gets stuck deeper in the mud.
The first step of getting out of a rut may feel counterintuitive: Fully embrace it. Lean into the rut. It’s super tempting to run away from the feelings or numb yourself with work, alcohol, travel, or risky behavior. The more you stay where you are and learn everything you can from this experience, the more you will grow!
Start the process of loving what life is putting in front of you by asking yourself a few questions:
- Why am I here?
- What does being here mean?
- How did I get here?
Don’t judge or label where you are. Don’t blame the rut, just pay attention to it. Think of your situation simply as data. It’s not good or bad, terrible or awesome. It simply is.
Which brings us to the next step… creating a vision.
Step 2: Take responsibility
Look at a river or stream. The water is flowing down the stream even though there’s rocks, tree branches, algae, and fish. There are all kinds of things that obstruct the water from having a “smooth” sail down the river. What if the water said, “Oh, there’s a log up there, forget it. I’m not moving.” Well, then we wouldn’t have the beautiful sound of streams or water to sustain life on this planet. Just like water, we have to move past things that are in the way.
Sometimes the things that are in the way are the way. Take responsibility for yourself and create a vision for where you want to be in life. For most people, the most difficult thing about getting to where they want to go is knowing what they want.
You can get to work on creating a vision and plan by using these strategies:
- Start a meditation practice
- Create a vision board
- Work with a life coach
- Read inspiring books
- Listen to positive TED talks or podcasts
- Take control of your health. Even if it’s as simple as taking a daily supplement (like Super Youth collagen)—it can make the world of difference.
Getting out of a rut starts with getting to the root of what you truly want.
Vision board activity:
For this activity, sit in a place free from distractions. You are going to use these questions to gain a clear picture of your vision for your ideal life.
Step 1: Begin by imagining your life 10 years from today. You are unlimited. You can be and do anything in the world.
Step 2: Answer these questions:
If time, money, education, experience were no issue, and you had nothing holding you back, what would you do?
- What does your life look like?
- What does it feel like?
- How do you take care of yourself?
- Do you volunteer? Work for your dream company? Work for yourself?
- What is your community like? Do you know your neighbors?
- What is most important to you?
- Where will you live?
- What type of home will it be? Is it in the mountains? On the beach? In a city? A farm?
- Who is there with you?
- Do you travel? Where to?
- What type of lifestyle do you have? Are you active? Are you practicing yoga? Running marathons? Swimming in the ocean every morning?
- What do you do with your free time?
- Who do you really want to be?
- What do you really want to have?
- What are you grateful for?
Step 3: Journal about your answers.
Step 4: Create a vision board by Googling pictures of your ideal life and creating a collage. Save the collage as your screensaver or photo on your phone’s lock screen.
Step 5: Watch the magic happen.
Time: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Step 3: Set SMART Goals
You created a vision and now it’s time to outline the steps you need to get there. SMART goals are a great way to set goals for getting out of a rut. SMART stands for:
- Specific: Imagine your goal is to become more flexible. To make that a SMART goal, add details and specifics, such as: “I am going to sign up for a yoga class.”
- Measurable: Attach measurable outcomes to your goals to help you know you’ve achieved it. “I will attend at least 1 yoga class this week.”
- Achievable: Always start small so that you can continue to add on. Maybe 1 yoga class eventually turns into 3 classes a week!
- Relevant: How will your goal help move you towards the vision you have for your life? If you want to feel more flexible, relaxed, and happy, doing yoga could be in line with your goals. If your vision is to raise horses and start a farming business, yoga may or may not be relevant—that’s up to you.
- Timely: Is your goal something you can start and work towards right now? Set goals that are realistically doable given your current circumstances.
Of course, life happens and if something changes in the environment around you, your plans are going to change. That’s totally okay and part of life! Practice going back to your plan and re-prioritizing your goals so that you can still get to your vision—even if things have shifted a bit.
The Bottom Line
The truth is you know how to get your groove back! You have an inner compass that helps guide you through tough times. Whatever your response to your current situation: Trust it. If you’re scared of moving into new territory and out of your rut—it’s normal. Fear is your response to growing. If you stay stuck in your habits and routines forever… you won’t move forward! Only you know how to get your groove back. Once you begin to discover the reasons for your rut, you’re on your way to a journey of self-discovery, freedom, and most of all… living a healthy, joyful life.
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”― Jean-Paul Sartre
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