On paper, your life is fine. Good job, nice house, smart TV, an all-inclusive holiday every year. But you can’t help feeling that something’s not quite right. If you’re honest, you’re a bit bored. And a bit stuck because you’re not entirely sure how you got here. Or how to get yourself out of it. It’s like you took a wrong turn somewhere and now you’re lost.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably stuck firmly in a rut.
So, what is a rut?
Ruts are devious creatures. By nature, they are dull and unproductive. Which makes you feel dull and unproductive. When you’re in one, you convince yourself that escaping from its clutches will be too complicated or too scary. You believe that this is the way life is now, and it’s unlikely to change. So you don’t try. And you stay bored. Which makes you feel even more dull and unproductive, thus keeping the vicious circle spinning. See, these ruts are cunning!
And the number one reason people end up in a rut…?
They’re on autopilot.
They’re just plodding along doing the same thing day in, day out. Week in, week out.
A good litmus test to see if you’re in a rut is to ask yourself, when was the last time you learnt anything new? (That you wanted to learn, being forced to do training at work doesn’t count, unless you really love your job.) If you can’t remember, it’s definitely too long!
When you don’t use and challenge your brain with learning, it simply goes onto autopilot, which isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re heading in exactly the right direction. Sticking with our flying theme though, real pilots have a rule that states if you’re even one degree off course, after travelling for sixty miles, you’ll be a full mile away from where you’re supposed to be. On that basis, even if your life is only slightly off course, the longer you’re on autopilot, the farther away you end up from where you want to be.
How do you re-route and get back on track?
You’ll be pleased to hear, getting out of your rut can be very simple…
That’s it. Doing something different to your normal routine, no matter how small it seems, can have a remarkable effect on you.
It helps you learn new things about yourself. Concentrating on learning also gives you head space because it requires your full attention, so it’s a fun way of getting in some meditation and mindfulness. Learning new things creates new neural pathways, and unblocks bits of the brain that haven’t been used in a while.
Remember, this isn’t about making a big, dramatic change and overhauling your life overnight. Anything that’s likely to be way out of your comfort zone will seem too overwhelming and likely paralyse you into inaction.
You just need to start small. Doing something new, even if only for an hour, will help spark your creativity so that you can find your way out of this rut. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
And just like the butterfly effect, doing something different, no matter how seemingly small, can transform into much larger differences later on. All you need to get started is just a few flaps of your wings.
Do it now!
What’s one thing you’ve thought about learning but haven’t got around to? It doesn’t have to be a lifelong dream, just something you fancy doing. Anything that will put you in a new and different situation.
Pick something now and commit to it today. Do it now, don’t wait for motivation to miraculously strike, because it probably won’t).
Then tell us what you’ve picked in the comments below. And don’t forget to pop back in to let us know how it goes!
Also published on Medium.