A “rut” by definition is “a narrow or predictable way of life… a dreary or undeviating routine,” according to the World English Dictionary. If you’re in a rut, you’re probably feeling a little blue – and a lot uninspired. Whether it’s from seasonal or environmental factors, we all get in a funk sometimes, but any situation can always be improved. Here’s how to get out of a rut.
Challenge yourself socially. When we’re facing a crisis, there’s always a moment of choosing a path. Do we try to solve the problem, or do we hide until it’s over? Instead of falling into a pattern of discontentment, empower yourself to face your challenging situation and solve it. If you want to meet new people, realize first that it’s okay to outgrow some of your old friends. Then join a sports league, social organization or church, or visit MeetUp.com to find like-minded people getting together in your area to discuss politics, eat at offbeat restaurants or learn how to speak a foreign language.
Challenge yourself professionally. If your rut is caused by work (doing the same old job, not finding a career path or not hearing back from jobs you’ve applied for), snap out of it by defining your career path on paper and then writing down concrete plans that will get you where you want to be. Talk to your boss to ask for a promotion or more varied work, or boost what you have to offer an employer by taking free online classes in an area you want to improve in.
Challenge yourself physically. You don’t have to train for a marathon, but signing up for a sprint triathlon, half-marathon or even a 5K may give you the extra energy you need to break free from your rut. It will also give you new inspiration, something your funk has been robbing you of. Unless you have an injury, don’t think about it too much – just sign up. Go.
Change your friends. No, not forever, but at least temporarily, surround yourself with people with a different perspective than the crowd you usually hang out with. Choose enthusiastic, motivated people to be around, and likely their good attitude will rub off on you – or at least give you some new ideas.
Find something else to do. Instead of sitting and stewing about your own misfortune, get out and do something that occupies your time. Volunteer. Go to the library. Shop at the farmers market for unfamiliar produce, and whip up a meal with it. Find new music, either from YouTube, iTunes or a local live music venue. Develop a hobby, such as jewelry-making, sewing, woodworking, decorating or antique-collecting. Turn off the TV and computer, put your mobile phone away and do something completely different.
Go without social media. Social media is fun for reconnecting with people you haven’t seen in awhile or learning more about your favorite celebrity, but it’s not real life – it’s life, very carefully edited. And that false sense of reality can leave us feeling inadequate sometimes. See if you can go without checking Twitter, updating your Facebook page and checking in on FourSquare for a week.
Be thankful. Get in touch with the positive side of your thoughts by realizing what you have to be thankful for – family, friends, health, a home, a job, food, clothing, an education, free will and wide open space around you. Even if you don’t have all of these, remind yourself of what you do have to feel better about your situation.
Clean and organize. You’re a product of your environment, so when your desk, home or personal appearance is a mess, you might feel like one, too. Clear and organize your desk, and tackle that closet-cleaning project at home that you’ve been meaning to start. Freshen up your appearance with a new hairstyle, makeup or wardrobe, and you’ll be on your way to feeling better about yourself and your surroundings in no time.