Ruts suck man, I mean they really do, especially if you’re a two wheel drive truck. We can find ourselves in a rut when we get a little to comfortable or we let our circumstances get the best of us. Stuff settles in ruts. If you see a rut on the side of the road, what likely will you find in it? Trash usually. Ruts collect stuff and eventually become full to the point where they spill over. A rut either needs to be cleaned out, or it gets out of control really fast.
I have been a professional at unintentially getting into a rut. I didn’t plan on it but somehow I would allow aspects of my life to get me stuck in one. Whether you are stuck in a rut or just seem to be going in circles, the same applies. We are enduring people who can really take on a lot. It’s pretty amazing how robust we are. The human body and mind is a pretty amazing thing, but it is not infalable. We are a persistent people who can endure a lot to achieve what we want, but we often find a level of comfort or compromise that gets us stuck. Some will say that they seem to be stuck in a “negative cycle” where they try different things but seem to have the same unintended result. In my life, I have identified a few different ways I end up in a rut. Let’s take a look at those before I get in to the 5 Steps I Take To Get Out of a Rut.
Wishful and Unrealistic Thinking
Are you a list person? I am. I got that from my Grandmother who had a list for everything. When I have a task that needs to be done, it goes on a list. When I have an idea, it goes on a list. The problem with these lists is that they become a unrealistically long and I am not the best at pruning these lists so they get a bit unwieldy. When I look at my lists it is easier for me to see all of the things I have not done over the things that I have done which makes me feel uneffective.
I do this all of the time. I disqualify myself before even giving myself a chance. Since all you see online is people winning it makes it easy to disqualify yourself as not having what it takes. People don’t share the dark moments where they felt like giving up. I have been telling myself for a long time that I have no business talking about personal growth and finally decided that there is no better time to talk about personal growth than when I am in the middle of it. This is raw folks!
Inability to Cut My Losses
“The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘this time it’s different.'” — Sir John Templeton
Some of us get a little too attached to things in our lives because we have invested so much time or money into something. We get discouraged because we are over invested in an idea or in someone we have invested a lot into that isn’t investing back into us. Because of this, we get stuck in a rut and find a medium where things are not great, but they are not painful enough to cut our losses and move on either. On top of that, cutting our losses is scary because you don’t often know what will come next.
How to assure you are always growing:
“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger
Ok, so here they are: How to Get Our of a Rut in 5 Steps!
How to tell if I’m in a rut: If you think you are in a rut, you probably are. We might be unrational at times but we are pretty self-aware people. What we don’t want to do is stay in that rut. Whether you are in a rut or not, the following five steps will help you be a more effective person.
1. Avoid Isolation
If you are in a true rut, you have probably isolated yourself from others in one way or another. You might not be isolated in the sense that you have nobody around you, but you have isolated. These days it is pretty easy to be invisible just about anywhere. People are so busy with their own stuff that the people around them go unnoticed. We all do this to the people around us at times, especially when we are feeling bummed out over something or depressed.
The problem with isolation is that it allows us remain trapped in our own little reality that can get warped at times. In isolation our vision narrows and all we can see are walls. Only when we break out of our isolation are we able to reconnect with others who can help us stay engaged. Remaining isolated keeps us disengaged from the world around us which only pushes us further into our rut.
2. Change Your Routine
We are creatures of habit and knowing what to expect brings us comfort. This is why we create routines. Men especially thrive in a routine. There is nothing wrong with having some predictability in your day but when you find yourself in a rut it can mean that your routine has become toxic.
I realized that my routine had become toxic when I noticed each morning I had anxiety about the work that needed to be done that day. It wasn’t the amount of work that I needed to accomplish it was a fear that I would procrasinate or get stuck in a loop on a task. I was more worried about being productive than I was about just letting my day flow. Then by the end of the day I felt anxiety again because I still had work to do but wanted to make sure I was home no later than 5:30 in the evening.
When I totally changed my routine by working at home I knew that I didn’t have to hurry up and get out the door. I could enjoy my family before they left for school, grab lunch with my wife, and when my kids got home from school I could either stop working or at least hear their voices while I finished up. No more anxiety at the beginning and end of my day.
Figure out how you can change up your routine. It could be as simple as waking up a bit earlier to work out or read. Maybe you need to switch to a different department at work, or get another job where you have more flexability in your day. Do as much as you can to change up your routine to prevent getting too comfortable.
3. Keep a Daily Log
Awareness is key because we tend to only remember what we want to remember. I have been told many times to start journaling, but that was hard for me because my handwriting is horrible and my hand cramps up from not being used to it. I have used Evernote for years but this year started using it to keep track of my tasks. I started adding in some notes about my day and then added in checkins which I do at least three times each day. I also set my intentions for the next day and read that first thing when I get out of bed in the morning.
I also add tags to each Daily Log which makes it easier for me to find Daily Logs that had things in common. Tags are like keywords that can be used to group Daily Logs together. Some of my tags include specific emotions, names of people, places, fears, and stuff like that. I plan to post more about my Daily Log process soon. Make sure to sign up for my email newsletter to be notified as I plan to publish a template of my Daily Log and go deep into how I use it.
4. Find Community
Those more suseptable to ruts often isolate more. Those who isolate more, don’t have a strong community around them. This is classic Jerad. I have always had a hard time connecting with others. Since I don’t have many who are close to me, I don’t have many people who can look me in the eyes and know that something is up. I don’t have many people to be sad with and I don’t have many people to rejoice with. It’s my own doing. I have had a lot of friends but I have been an isolater for so long and everybody’s life moves on.
There are many ways to find community. You can get into a hobby or start serving at church. Fitness bootcamps are a great way to find a community or you can start training in a martial art. There are more opportunities for community out there than ever, just make sure you choose some “in person” communities as there are also more online communities than ever and it’s too easy to remain isolated while being very involved in online communities.
5. Momentum Not Prefection
“There is no perfection, only momentum” — Jerad Hill (That’s right, I have a quote! There are many variations of this statement but this one is mine! Trust me, I Googled it!)
People like me, who get stuck in ruts often, have a hard time maintaining momentum because we are always seeking perfection. If we are not awesome at something immediately we stop doing it because it gets too hard. We don’t like hard, we like comfortable. The problem with comfortable is that you don’t need much momentum. You don’t need much momentum to put in minimal effort in work and life. It takes real momentum and in order to keep momentum going you have to continue to move. Seeking perfection will keep you frozen because deep inside you don’t want to give up the comfort to make it happen. Momentum is something we can manage one day at a time and sometimes one moment at a time.
Where to go from here?
Getting started is the first step. Momentum in these five areas will get you there so much faster than wasting time looking for the easy way out. There is no easy way out of a rut when you have been in there for so long. Because you have been in there so long, nobody is around to help you out so you have to do the work to get started. You have to decide that you have had enough and you have to line that rut with explosives and blow it up. Just make sure you put on a helmet first (I know I shouldn’t have to mention this, but please don’t blow yourself or anything else up for real). For me, I had to have help from God. I continually asked Him for help with everything. I would say to myself, “Good morning Lord, help me out of bed.” And then I would get out of bed. I would open up the refrigerator to grab some food for breakfast and say, “Lord, help me to make good food choices right now so I feel good and have energy this morning.” Now I could ask God for things like this until I was blue in the face but ultimately it was me that had to make the decision to get out of bed or to choose good food to eat. I had faith that after I asked I would make the right choice, and I did, every time.
Once you get started you will notice a new energy you have and that some of the things that would get you stuck in the rut no longer have the power to do that. Try things and see what works for you. I am trying to do my best to share what worked for me but that might not work for you or it might not be practical for your life. What is the same for you, me, and the next guy is that were stuck in a rut long enough to make it to the end of this post which means we have that in common. Now it’s up to you to put in the work. Record your behavior in a Daily Log and analyze that behavior. Look for trends such as how your day at work went and how that affected your attitude toward your family at home. When you start to notice behavior patterns, search yourself for their cause. It is likely that the behavior is a side effect of something deeper you need to zero in on. This is where the path of self discovery gets interesting.
For me, I have to continue to work on myself. I can’t get stuck in the ruts of my past again. I just can’t. I have had enough of the darkness that those ruts bring and that is why I am here sharing my experiences with all of you. I can still see my ruts in my rear-view-mirror so pain they caused is still fresh. Don’t allow yourself to stay stuck any longer, you were put here for more. I know it!
If you are open to it, share something about how you get stuck in the comments section below or shoot me a DM on social media.