How to Get Out of a Rut and Start Living the Life You Desire

Life comes in waves of novelty and familiarity. When things are new to us, whether they are goals, living situations, or jobs, they give us this rush of excitement and fear that pushes us to continue forward. Through the good and the not so good, these waves of novelty give us the opportunity to start anew and fuel our desire to enhance our lives.

When things become too familiar, on the other hand, it’s easy to fall into old habits and to feel as though we are not getting anywhere. This feeling eventually becomes something that begins to consume our days and we fall into a rut.

Once in that rut, it can be hard to get out, despite though you are well aware that you have trapped yourself in a cycle of doing the same things and getting no results.

The good news about being in a rut is that it is entirely possible to get yourself out, it will just take a little bit of strategy and self-exploration. If you’re one of the many people who feel that life has become bland or repetitive, take a look at this guide to help you get out of your rut and back into the life that you should be living.

1. Figure Out How Deep Your Rut Is

Not everyone’s rut is going to be the same. Some people may come to the realization that they are feeling trapped, make a slight adjustment in direction, and quickly put themselves back on track.

Others, however, may be in a rut for several years before they figure out exactly what’s wrong and by that time, it is a little harder to change your course so that you can head in the direction that you’re wanting to go.

When you first begin to notice the feeling of being stuck or trapped in your current situation, hold onto that feeling and evaluate it. How long has this feeling been going on? Is this something that has recently appeared or is this something that you have been dealing with for ages but are only now noticing? More importantly, what type of feelings are being brought about with this shift in thinking?

Although being in a rut may feel relatively similar across the board and point to a lack of happiness with one’s life, there are different emotions that may be experienced when you come to the realization that you are in a rut. Some may be angry, some may be frustrated, and others may simply be going through a funk that they can’t shake.

It’s important to note this last part as some people may have everything they want but could be dealing with a major mental health issue such as depression. Depression manifests itself through symptoms such as a lack of interest in daily activities, fatigue and feelings of hopelessness and sadness, and avoidance of work and other responsibilities.((Mayo Clinic: Persistent Depressive Disorder))

If you’re not dealing with depression, the good news is that all you need are some life alterations to feel like your happy self again. If you are dealing with a form of depression, it’s important that you seek the help you need and if it is needed, you can take care of any life changes after you tackled your depression.

2. Determine Where in Your Life You Feel Discontent

Being trapped in a rut may be a sign that your whole life needs re-working but that isn’t always so. Sometimes we may feel in a rut at work but could feel perfectly fine when we are out with friends or at home. Instead, we may feel stuck in a rut in our personal lives and may very happy with the progress that we’ve made in our professional lives.

Regardless of whether your rut signifies a whole life issue or just a problem in individual or several parts, you have to take a comprehensive look at your current life situation to determine where you are not getting your needs met.

The easiest way to do this is by using a goal-setting tool such as Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life, which identifies some of the major sections of life that people may wish to improve upon in order to experience balance in all aspects of their life.((FreshTake Content: Monday Matters: Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life – A Total-Life Approach To Setting Your Goals))

This resource specifically focuses on the following categories:

  • Physical/Health Goals
  • Personal & Social Goals
  • Work & Career Goals
  • Family Goals (Relationship and friendship goals can fall in here as well.)
  • Spiritual Goals
  • Financial Goals
  • Mind/Intellect Goals

Start by going through each of these sections of life and asking yourself, am I 100 percent happy in this given area?

If you are, congratulations! That’s one less section that you will have to work on to get yourself out of your rut.

If the answer is no, however, take some time to jot down ways you can improve that section. For example, if you feel as though the work and career aspect of your life could be improved, maybe that means that you need to change your job completely and work towards what you love or maybe you just need to figure out how to get a raise or promotion.

Whatever ideas and visions make you happiest, write those down so that you can reference them later on when you begin working towards what you want.

3. Start Off Small and Gradually Set Goals

You can’t change your life overnight and trying to do so can bring about as much frustration and stress as being in a rut can. Look over your goals each day and ask yourself, how can I work towards this today?

For the smaller goals like breaking a bad habit/creating a good habit or simply squeezing more you time into your day, you will be able to make these changes rather easily.

For much larger goals that will take time, remember to break them down, set specific end goals and establish time frames, and remain mindful in your daily life so that you don’t end up drifting throughout your days and ending back where you are at the current moment!((Mindfulness Muse: How to Develop Mindfulness))

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember is to not feel bad or bully yourself. Everyone goes through ruts, big and small, at some point in their lives. How your life goes through here depends entirely on what you do once you realize you are in one!

Make the right decision by using the tips in this guide so that you can live the life that you want to lead in the future. If you need any additional help to guide yourself through some of the sections above, feel three to go through the following resources:

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