Stepping Out of a Rut

Author: Christine Howitz

You’re in a groove. You’re on track. You’re inspired. You’re filled with confidence. And then… you’re not.

It’s over at least for now. You’re in a rut. You’re off track. You’re discouraged. Your commitment wavers. What do you do?

It’s the norm, not the exception, to lapse into a rut and feel stuck. From time to time many of us get stuck in one area of our lives or other: maybe we’re not taking the next step in our relationships, or are afraid of leaving our current job for something more unknown

Whatever the cause, the solution is to view any setback as a temporary…

When the fire alarm went off at my local cafe the other day, and it struck me that we have a lot to learn about “being stuck” from observing how we behave in the face of a fire alarm. After all, don’t we often hear internal “fire alarms” that tell us “you’re not happy… time to change!” and yet do nothing about it?

Alarm Bell over white

How we react to alarm bells:

1. We don’t want to leave our comfortable seats.
Upon the first screeches of the fire alarm, I groaned. I was sitting in my nice comfy chair, a steaming peppermint tea beside me, and was mid-thought on the document I was writing. Get up now? But I don’t wanna!

2. We use others as an excuse.
I next looked around at the other people in the coffee shop, who were doing the same thing looking back at me. An unspoken agreement settled over the crowd: if you’re not moving, I don’t have to either.

3. We reason that if we ignore it, maybe it’ll go away.
Enough said.

4. We hope someone else will fix it.
People began casting furtive glances at the baristas. Won’t you guys go do something? Can’t you see I want to enjoy my tea in peace?

5. We tolerate it.
Eventually, I settled into a “work with an annoying siren in the background” mode. I hummed a song under my breath to block out the noise. The kid next to me put on his head phones. No reason to let an annoying siren ruin a comfortable gig.

Finally, I had to laugh at the craziness of what I was doing, and so left the cafe. I stepped out into the bright sun. Deliciously quiet, with the faint sound of birds chirping in the background. A deep blue sky. Why was I avoiding this so mightily? I couldn’t remember. Like the fire alarms in life, the world can be much more beautiful once we’ve left our comfy coffee shop chair.

So what alarm bells are you currently ignoring in your life?

Here are some of my favourite tips to help you get back on track and unstuck!

Picture a hero of yours – Male or female, alive or dead, real or mythical. Imagine your hero cheering you on. What does he say to you? How does she motivate you? What would he do in your situation?

Recall how you were when you were in your groove –  What good ideas did you have then? What was important to you then? How did you feel about yourself then? See yourself beaming with delight. Remember what it was like when you felt inspired. Stay as long as you like in ‘groove-land’. Soon you will be taking up residence there once again.

Know that life is a long-distance marathon, not a sprint –  You’re in it for the long haul. So, don’t let the first hint of frustration sap your energy, sabotage your goals. Even when your confidence is waning, hang in there. Give yourself a breather. Stop before you drop. Take time to rest, eat, pray, heal, love. Then when you’re ready, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on track.

Monitor your momentum – Don’t push yourself to move faster than you can. It doesn’t matter how quickly you get back in your groove. Quantum leaps are not required. Baby steps are okay, just as long as you’re moving forward. If you find yourself falling behind, take an action. Change your scenery. Seek out a friendly face. Do something that gets your energy going.

Think even if you don’t feel like thinking – Working out, as you well know, is the tried and true road to a buff body. True for your mind as well. Utilise your gray matter, even when you don’t feel like it. You don’t have to focus on what’s gotten you in the rut. Focus instead on something simple but entertaining.

When you’re back on track, smile. Know that you did it! Reward yourself….

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