Are you feeling like you might be stuck in a rut? Gum on the shoe? Wheels are spinning, you’re drowning in quicksand, trudging through water, swimming in jello, or bored of the same old? You’re stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck.
And maybe at first you tried to fight your way out of it. And then realized the fight is exhausting you. Maybe you’re stuck in a rut at work, stuck in a rut in a relationship, stuck in a rut in life.
Bottom line: you’re stuck.
And you’ve come up with possible solutions to get yourself out of this. You’ve looked at it from every angle. You’ve tried, asked friends, thought, attempted, and…
It just doesn’t work. And you’re just. Plain. Stuck.
I’m glad you’re here, it’s going to be OK, this is exactly why clients seek me out.
Why Do We Get Stuck In A Rut?
As adults, we have less structure to our lives than when we were children. After second grade, it’s likely that you moved on to third grade. After high school comes college (or something else) and then after that comes work and…
See what happens when you #adult? The structure that you’ve had for most of your life, guiding your growth and progress, well, it just dissipates.
There are no external forces forcing you to take a class, take a test, figure out where you are in the rankings and move on. You have to do this analysis for yourself, on yourself.
And if you’re happy, and comfortable, well folks, let me lay this one on you: comfort is the enemy of growth.
Let me repeat: comfort is the enemy of growth. And a penchant for comfort might be part of why you’re stuck.
What? I thought I loved my big mushy couch, down comforter and fuzzy slippers? Of course you do. AND, it’s exactly what keeps you stuck in a rut.
Without the familiar structure of our childhood that keeps us growing, and with the choice of comfort over challenge, we start to get complacent, cozy and stuck. Just watch someone try to get up out of a big fluffy couch; it’s a physical metaphor for what is happening to your brain, career, relationship and life. “Ah, I’ll just stay here. It’s too hard to get up.”
What Does It Mean To Be Stuck In A Rut?
The thing about being stuck in a rut is that you don’t see it as it’s happening. You’re living life, going out with friends and then suddenly, you realize that the friends you’ve been hanging out with — well they’ve moved on. You take a look around the bar, and you realize that you’re pushing 40 while everyone else is in their 20s? “How did this happen?” you ask. “Am I stuck in a rut?”
You most certainly are. And the thing about getting stuck is that you walk into it, down into this little funnel. Your world gets smaller, the walls are caving in and you don’t recognize that you’ve gone too far down the funnel until you realize you can’t get out. You’re stuck.
So being in a rut is one thing, but being stuck in a rut is where the panic really sets in.
How To Know You Are Stuck In A Rut
Routine. And not a good one. Are you wearing the same clothes, eating the same meals, taking the same path to work and bored by it? Are you on auto pilot? Now routines can be GREAT if they free you up to solve other problems. Think of Steve Jobs wearing his “uniform” day after day. Who made black shirts and jeans cool? Steve Jobs, relied on his uniform, and a lack of decision making so that he could free up his brain and think creatively.
Are your routines and structures liberating you or are they limiting your creativity? Do they provide the structure that fosters ideas, helps you conceive fresh thoughts, or are they keeping you from creativity?
You will know. You’re either stuck in a rut or you aren’t. Routines can liberate or they can confine, reduce, and limit. Which state are you in?
What To Do When You Are Stuck In A Rut
Well, you’ve already done the first thing that will help you get un-stuck; you’ve identified where you are. When you’re lost, you have to first acknowledge that you’re lost. When you’re stuck, same thing. So congratulations, you can check #1 off your list.
You’ve also done #2! You’ve reached out for help. You’ve called upon Madame Google to look more deeply into your stuckness, and my belief is that your goal is to change the state. You’ve acknowledged “I feel stuck in a rut”, “I am stuck in a rut”, and now it’s time to ask:
Why Am I Stuck In A Rut?
As a coach, part of my job is to ask questions that get my clients to think in new ways. So to address why you’re stuck, first let’s start by asking — when was the last time you were in flow? I recognize that you are stuck — in a relationship, career, or life — so let me know when was the last time you were in motion in your career. When was the last time your relationship felt good? When was the last time you felt happy in life?
It happened, I know it did. It might be hard to remember but dig. And dig visually. Try to picture yourself blasting the radio listening to ______ or walking along _____ or getting ready for_____ or laughing with ______or just feeling ______.
Think about it. And start recalling the good in your life. This exercise could take an hour or a week or a month. Think about what was working in your life at that time. What were you doing and why were you in flow? What did you have then?
And don’t come back to where you are now (stuck in a rut) for a while. Just start thinking about what was working for you then. What skills did you use? What were your strengths? Who was in your life, supporting you? Who were you supporting? What brought you joy?
And then on a different day (because we don’t want to kill your buzz), draw a line from there to here. How did you come to this state of stuck? Know, of course, that every day we look at your stuck state, we are moving ever closer to crowbarring you out of this rut. So, it’s all good. You’re on your way.
But you’re going to have to get a little closer to the root of your stuck before we can get you out of it.
So put on that forensic hat and examine. How did you get here? Why? What did you give up that was working for you?
And then, let’s look to the future. Can you mark off some milestones that are yet ahead of you, give you something to pursue? If we can figure out how you’ve become stuck, can we also illuminate why you want to get moving again? What do you have to look forward to? What do you want to add to your life that isn’t there now?
Yes, this is a bucket-list-creation moment. A great way to get out of your rut is to identify what you’d like to add to your life. You’ll bolster yourself out of your rut.
And let me say — it’s ok to be stuck. In fact, everyone gets stuck. You can’t make big changes without feeling the pain of being stuck. This might actually be the best thing that’s happened to you. By feeling the need to get un-stuck, and the change energy that comes with it, you’re ever closer to greater contentment.
And yes, sometimes you have to get stuck first. Before you can fix it, it has to break.
I am glad you found me and took a moment to contemplate that you are stuck in a rut, and I hope I’ve provided some solutions for how to bounce yourself out of it.
If I can be of service to you as a coach, please feel free to call upon me. I look forward to the opportunity to meet you, co-create a solution with you and ultimately bounce you out of the stuck place.
Lots of love,