How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

6 steps you can start today

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

Why am I stuck in a rut?

When you’re stuck in a rut , it feels like your life is on a loop: You know that you need to exercise in order to have energy. But you just don’t have the energy to exercise. Maybe you’re in a financial rut: You spend all your time working, but you’re making just enough to get by, not get ahead. Or an emotional rut, where you’re feeling down, but you can’t seem to get up off the couch and take action.

There are many ways that we can get stuck in a rut , but there is only one cause: humans are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. This fulfills one of the most powerful of our Six Human Needs : certainty. While you may not feel at your best in your current state, you do feel comfortable. You know what to expect. You know that getting out of a rut is going to involve effort – and maybe even pain and failure. But you have to get started today.

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

How to get out of a rut

Being stuck in a rut isn’t a physical state or the result of your circumstances. It’s a state of mind, and it can be overcome. Creating new habits and training your brain to make new connections are key to getting out of a rut .

1. Get out of denial

People who are stuck in a rut often make excuses about why they can’t do this, or don’t have time for that. But the most successful people in the world take total responsibility for their own lives . Stop blaming others for the way you feel and behave. Realize that your life is a result of your decisions alone. As Tony says, “Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant.”

2. Uncover the real reason

Discovering how to get out of a rut involves looking inward, not outward. You must identify your limiting beliefs , the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and hold us back from becoming what we could be. Next time you want to make an excuse, recognize that it’s your limiting beliefs talking – and turn them into empowering beliefs instead.

3. Turn shoulds into musts

What will you regret more in your life: wasting it with inaction and indecision, or getting out there and taking a chance? When you’re old and gray, looking back on your life, would you rather be saying “I should have done this” or “I lived life to the fullest”? If you’re stuck in a rut , reframe your choices as “must do,” not “should do.” An extraordinary life is waiting, if only you would live it.

4. Create healthy habits

The endless loop of being stuck in a rut is often caused by lack of energy. You know you need to make changes, but you don’t have the drive. To get the energy you need, you must create healthy habits . Improve your diet. Find a form of exercise you enjoy. Get outside. Practice gratitude. Start small and work your way up until you’re living a healthy lifestyle that will fuel your brain and body, and propel you toward your goals.

5. Take on a challenge

The human brain is incredibly complex – but it can be mastered. One part of your brain that’s involved in decision-making, called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, is responsible for applying past experiences to current decisions. Your brain solves problems using neural pathways that have previously worked. Creating new pathways can help your brain learn how to get out of a rut . To do this, take on a challenge. Don’t give up until you’ve learned a new skill or done something completely out of your comfort zone.

6. Get support

Getting out of a rut isn’t always easy. The human brain gets stuck in its ways. It can be difficult to hold ourselves accountable. Friends and family are often supportive, but they don’t always provide the push we need when we’re stuck in a rut . Getting a coach or attending an event like Unleash the Power Within could be just what you need to get back on track.

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How would you define feeling stuck in a rut? For me, it’s when I can’t imagine doing, or even think about doing, a single thing. My to-do list, though full of tasks that I often enjoy, seems strenuous. And though I’m doing nothing, it feels like I’m doing everything. The list of things I feel I should be doing runs through my head until I am exhausted, have accomplished nothing, and somehow feel worse.

A rut is officially defined as “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change,” but I think the concept extends beyond that. Ruts can come in all shapes and sizes: an afternoon of writer’s block, a mid-career change period of “who am I and what do I care about,” or a few days where, no matter how nice the weather, you simply cannot bring yourself to leave your house.

I like to think—and please don’t argue if you know better—that we all feel stuck in a rut sometimes. While the same old, same old is often comforting, sometimes a switch flips and you feel drained by the mundane. It’s hard to find balance, especially when it often feels easier to just suffer through.

But there are ways out!

Last fall, I bought an orchid. Embarrassingly enough, it was not the first orchid I’d ever purchased. The first, which I’d come into possession of years earlier, promptly lost its blossoms and was disposed of—even though I thought I was doing a pretty good job taking care of it. C’est la vie!

After a month or two of delighting in orchid number two’s elegant petals, the blossoms once again began to drop, one after another. Besides the wrinkled flowers, the plant looked healthy enough, and I for one knew I was doing everything I was supposed to when it came to plant care.

While there is no miracle cure for pulling yourself out of a tough spot, there are ways you can take care of yourself and gently ease back above ground.

So I did my research, read the orchid fanatic threads, and came to an interesting conclusion: this was a normal process in my beautiful plant’s life. Periods of dormancy are normal. The blooming would come again. I just had to be patient…and keep watering.

While there is no miracle cure for pulling yourself out of a tough spot, there are ways you can take care of yourself and gently ease back above ground.

Here is a non-extensive list of things to do when you feel stuck in a rut. The most important one, in my opinion? Remember that it won’t last forever.

The blooming will come again.

Make a list.

Sometimes it helps to just get the to-do list out of your head. Other list ideas: things you’re grateful for, dream dinner party guests, or fun salad ingredients.

Revisit a source of inspiration.

What’s something you’ve watched/read/listened to that made you feel inspired at one point? Revisit it!

Try something completely different.

A new food? A new music genre? A new route home? If you’re having trouble thinking of something, here’s a list of possibilities. Just make sure whatever you do is far removed from whatever you feel stuck on!

Take care of yourself.

That could mean asking your partner to pour you a cup of tea or taking a minute to go through some stretches. Nothing big, just a touch of sweetness. (Plus the important things: adequate sleep, personal connection, and proper nutrition and hydration.)

Move your body.

A classic point on any self-help list for good reason! Get your blood pumping in a way that feels good to you. You don’t have to win a race; just take one step at a time.

Have compassion.

We’ve all been here, remember? Give yourself a break.

Create something.

A new Pinterest board? A paper snowflake? The chorus of a song?

Think things through.

Can you remember when the rut started? Maybe there are issues at play you haven’t addressed yet, such as an unfulfilling job or lack of balance when it comes to your personal life.

Have fun.

Allow your best friend to sweep you away for the night. Watch a silly movie. Window shop.

Talk to someone.

It could be a therapist, your closest companion, or even a journal. Find a place or person where you feel comfortable talking through your feelings. No matter how frivolous they may seem, they’re valid.

Get outside.

Wild how connecting with nature can sometimes bring you back to yourself, huh? Sit with the trees and see what thoughts cross your mind.

Reward yourself.

Did you make a tiny bit of progress today? Or make plans to? Good. Indulge in something that you enjoy thoroughly.

Take small steps.

Sometimes it can seem like the only way to do something is to do something big. That’s not the case! If you’re having trouble writing, start with a short journal entry or a quick social media caption.


When was the last time you sat by the window and let your thoughts drift? Give yourself permission to think about absolutely nothing.

Let it be.

Sometimes periods of rest are necessary so you can reflect on lessons learned or wait for something amazing to come to fruition. If you need a break, honor that.

Allow yourself the help you need.

Sometimes a rut is just a rut, but sometimes it’s something deeper than a case of feeling stuck. If you suspect you may be depressed, know that help will look different than simply building a vision board and waiting it out. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional, talk to your loved ones, and remember that the same main belief applies: it won’t be forever. (Though that of course doesn’t mean it isn’t hard now.)

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

Sophie Vilensky (@sophiavilensky on Instagram and Twitter or if you met her in second grade) is a Real Housewives scholar and naturopath’s daughter. At this point in time these things are very important to her.

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rutEver feel like you are stuck in a rut?

If so, this post will help. Here I share exactly how to get out of any rut and crush it in your network marketing company.

What To Do When Your Stuck In A Rut

What do you do when you’re in a rut? How do you get out of that rut?

My favorite response to that I heard from a guy named Scott Ross, “When you’re in a rut, the only way through is through.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you’re in a rut, the only way through is through.” quote=”When you’re in a rut, the only way through is through.”]

When people are in that rut, or when they’re down, or when life has been tough on them, I think people look for some kind of mantra, or ritual, or something to kind of wake them up out of that rut.

And here’s the problem. If I gave you some kind of temporary solution, like I gave you this meditation that you burn incense, listen to Yani, and all of a sudden you just feel you’re on cloud nine, man.

Well, at some point, you come off of cloud nine, and you look around and your results are the same. And you’re like, “They didn’t change. That sucks.”

You can’t change results. Can’t change them. Results are the end product of habits.

But, you CAN change habits.

So, when you’re in a rut, you have to say:

Okay. Here are my results. I’m in a rut. It sucks. What caused this rut? These habits. So I need to address these habits.

“The only way through is through.” I want you to embrace that.

It Had To Happen

I look back and every rut I ever had in my life, every punch to the face, every obstacle, every challenge as I needed to happen. I NEEDED it to be there.

There’s a new kind of movement. A very, very old concept, thousands and thousands of years old, but it’s really gaining kind of new popularity. And that’s stoicism.

Stoicism is not a religion, it’s not anything like that. But it’s just a way of thinking. Tim Ferris just recently talked about it on a TED Talk. Stoicism is you looking at the obstacles in your life, and you looking at the challenges as they needed to happen.

Now, this isn’t just like wishful thinking. This isn’t, “Oh, you know what? It’s tough, but I’m a staying positive.” That’s NOT stoicism.

Stoicism is that obstacle needed to happen to force me to think a little differently.

So, maybe, just maybe, you’re in a rut so you can learn how to get out of that rut so you can teach others how to get out of their rut.

Maybe, I went through a foreclosure and got knocked down dead flat broke on my butt so that I could know what it felt like to teach other people how to overcome that too.

And so this is proof and evidence to me that the more challenges you have, the bigger life you need to lead, because you’re going to inspire people that I can’t.

The WORST Thing You Can Do If You’re In A Rut

In the video below I share the worst thing you can think, say or do when you are going through tough times.

The most disabling, depressing, the weakest, the lowest energy, the non-empowering, disempowering, attitude you could possibly ever have. If you catch yourself doing this, go back to the last two steps.

Obstacles, they’re going to happen. But, how you react them is the differentiator.

Was that helpful? Let me know what you think in the comments below. And, feel free to share this with your team.

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Rut: a fixed or established mode of procedure or course of life, usually dull or unpromising.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

It would be a different story if that “fixed or established mode” was whiling away at a luxury beach-front house on a South Seas island, while nubile young things pandered to your every whim and a Michelin-starred chef fed you truffles by hand.

But it’s not that. At all.

What it is, is commonplace. Everyone gets into a rut from time to time (no matter how much we might pretend that we’re not), and if you don’t do anything to escape one, life can quickly shrink down to nothing.

So, let’s see how we can get you out of that rut, shall we?

Switch Up Your Routine

You probably have your route to work all set; an efficient route you don’t have to think about that gets you where you need to go with minimal thought and fuss.

This week, try mixing it up. Take a different road. Go to a different bus stop. Walk along different streets. Instead of writing off this part of your day, look at it as an exciting or interesting journey, and be sure to notice what’s around you on your travels.

Truthfully, it’s through patterns, routines, and habits that life can lose its sparkle—so changing your route to and from work can be a literal first step to getting out of a rut and doing things a little differently.

Do Something That Lifts You Up

It happens by increment. Bit by bit. Inch by inch. Things settle. Your sight gets lowered onto the detail of what’s right in front of your nose rather than what could be.

When you’re deep in a rut, you first of all have to look upward to see that there is an “out.” So, spend a moment today thinking about what’s out there that might be more fun than you’ve known in a while. What is there that could excite you? What is there that could lift you?

Try that evening cookery class. Take a friend to the coast for a couple of days. Pick up a paintbrush or put pen to paper and play around with some creative expression. No matter what you choose, add wonder, exploration, or the unpredictable into your schedule. Go where the promise is.

Be Selfish in the Right Ways

We’ve all been there. Those times when you’re running on empty, feeling like you’ve got nothing left and like you just want a damn vacation already—those are the times when you’ve spent your energy and are slipping face-first into that rut.

This is why, even if you’re really, really busy, you need to be selfish and prioritize yourself. I call it nourishment—making sure you’re nourishing your head, heart, and body by feeding yourself with the things that allow you to live a rich life. There’s no way you can climb out of a rut if you don’t.

What makes you feel like you again? What makes you smile from the inside out? What soothes you? What energizes you? What makes your mind spark? What makes your body glow? This could be anything, big or small. Listen to a favorite song, give your partner a hug, become a regular at that yoga class, learn a language, get an extra hour of sleep, start a reading habit, practice meditation, take a long walk—anything.

There’s no downside to nourishment, and as it fuels every endeavour in your life, it’s chief among your responsibilities as a human being.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

A rut’s formed by treading the same old ground, again and again and again, and once you’re in one, it can feel as comfortable as a giant marshmallow bed with buttercream pillows.

The comfort and safety in clinging to something familiar is compelling indeed, but if you’ve outgrown something, or if the thing you’re keeping close no longer gives you anything other than the familiar, perhaps it’s time to let something go.

Maybe you’ve been in the same role or same company for too long. Maybe there’s a friendship that’s gone stale. Maybe the town you’re in, while familiar, is just too small for you now.

To feel free again, what do you need to let go of?

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

Finally, remember that when you’re in a rut, keeping on doing what you’ve been doing only digs those grooves deeper. So perhaps the most important thing you need to recognize is that staying still, treading water, or “waiting to see what happens” isn’t going to work.

When you get right down to it, it comes down to this: Do something.

It’s strange to think about how profoundly the context of a piece like this has changed in recent weeks. Written a month ago, the core concern of this post would largely have been a figurative limitation: the average reader would probably have been in the common position of having adequate job security but feeling fundamentally dissatisfied.

As I write this intro, though, the world is in the midst of a pandemic that has cost so many jobs (whether temporarily or permanently) and seen so many others change markedly. Accordingly, you may be feeling stuck in a rut because circumstances have placed you in one: being out of work due to lockdown measures, or struggling to cope with a remote version of your usual role.

Regardless of your current situation and the exact nature of the rut you feel stuck in, you do have options, and you can find a new career — particularly in the tech world. In this post, we’re going to look at some tips for doing just that, so let’s get started.

Here are the 4-steps to helping you change careers when you feel stuck in a rut:

See what’s reliably making money

Even if you’re going to invest in a new career for a reason that has nothing to do with how much money you make (or want to make), you still need to ensure that your new field can offer financial stability. It won’t help you much if you go full-force towards a fresh avenue only to see it become non-viable and leave you in the lurch.

The pandemic has shown just how easily a stable business can be disrupted, and while there are very few fields that will always be important (like medicine, realistically), you can find something that’s fairly solid and stable. Web development is an obvious example, and not just because of this site: now, more than ever before, businesses need to be able to operate online, and that means that many companies are investing in their web operations.

Another example is ecommerce. With traditional retail technically flourishing but also suffering due to social distancing measures and tough conditions for employees, online retail is much safer for everyone. You won’t be running a pop-up shop in the near future, but if you’re interested in buying and selling, this is a great time to start working on the basics.

Think about what you’d find sustainable

Even if there’s money in a career path, it might not be something you could tolerate as a career. If you’re early in your working life, you most likely have decades of work ahead of you, and that means being certain about the direction you want to take. Changing your career trajectory is obviously possible (we’re talking about doing it here), but every additional change is harder and more complicated than the one before it.

If you knew what you were doing, could you write code all day? Imagine what that would actually be like. If you’re someone who hates being stuck at a desk , then think about whether that’s a good idea. It might make sense during quarantine times, but what about once the restrictions are eventually lifted?

Of course, you could pivot the role somehow: you could eventually take up a role as a coding tutor, for instance, visiting students to help them out in person. So don’t just think about the specific role you could have. Think about how the skills you’d develop (and the connections you’d build) would help you in the future.

Pick out some relevant courses

Whatever field you want to enter, there are ways to learn what you need to know without taking on massive student debt or committing years to the effort. With a little research, you can find some courses that might be right for you, though at this point you need to look for the option of learning remotely (some courses are being adapted, with the LEARN academy curriculum being the obvious point of reference after making the shift to remote tuition).

Look closely at testimonials to see how students rate their courses. More importantly, look at job placement rates. There are many courses that get high ratings but don’t really help their students get work, making them questionably useful to you. Doing something that interests you is great, but unless it’s going to get results, it’s better to find something practical.

Be ready to work your way up

Lastly, once you’ve figured out what career path you want to try and acquired the necessary skills to get started as a professional, you need to be ready to start from scratch. You might be a respected pro in your current career, but that might not count for much when you make the shift. It’s a mistake to think that you’ll preserve your current salary and array of benefits.

Imagine a world-class hockey player trying to become a basketball player. Would their hockey prowess suggest great athleticism, training habits, and strategic awareness? Absolutely — there’s some crossover. But the sports are very different, and it would take them years to become good enough for low-tier professional play, even if they had the necessary physical attributes (height and speed).

But here’s the thing: ruts are often relatively comfortable, which is why they’re tough to escape. It’s so easy to convince yourself that you’re better-off staying where you are and making do with what you have. If you really want a career change, you’ll need to work hard for it — and if you choose well, it’ll assuredly end up being worth it.

Identify if there are activities in your day that, instead of helping you achieve your goals, are blocking your path.

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

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Humans love routine . When it comes to achieving measurable goals, this means that we tend to do the same, as we always have, and in the same order. This also happens with our habits when working in teams. You’ve probably been working with your team long enough to feel like you know what to expect from them and have developed habitual patterns in the way they interact. And, most likely, the feeling is mutual. Maybe it’s time to change those impressions.

To be a better manager, it is important to take risks and make necessary improvements. This often requires identifying what is working and what needs to be improved. Sometimes finding out is as easy as asking yourself these three questions:

1. What habits have gotten you to where you are today?
2. What habits could be holding you back from reaching your next big goals?
3. Is it time to ask for feedback?

Taking a close look at your habits gives you a powerful picture of what has worked so far, and it also allows you to make conscious changes. My friend and mentor, Marshall Goldsmith, wrote a book whose title says it all: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (What brought you here won’t get you anywhere). So what habits do you currently have that could be hindering you from reaching the next level?

Some questions you could start with are: Do you start the meetings on time? Do you listen to the comments without interrupting? Do you ask clarifying questions? Do you see the person you are talking to or do you keep your eyes on your digital device? Do you recognize a job well done and new ideas? What habits have worked well for you? And which ones do you think you would need to change to move forward?

The next thing to do is ask yourself what you are doing that is sabotaging your path to achieve your goals. I know of an entrepreneur who recently noticed that he was using the first hour of his workday to check his email and social media accounts. As a five-day experiment, he focused that same morning hour on finding new suppliers for his business. That simple change allowed it to advance its release date by three weeks.

One way to find out what’s working and what’s not working for your habits is to ask the people around you for feedback. Feedback will not necessarily point out that something is wrong; it could simply show that you are open to new ideas and strategies.

Asking for feedback can also speed up and increase the effectiveness of your efforts. Feedback can maximize your focus, energy, and time so that you can get things done right and get them done. Over and over again I have seen entrepreneurs who are doing well managing their productivity and getting more out of their efforts because they have asked for feedback from the right people.

To find out if your habits are working or not, clearly define the results you want. When you fully understand what you want to achieve, then you will be able to reflect how your actions in the last hours, days or weeks have allowed you to get closer (or not) to your goals.

Your exit strategy for getting out of a rut

Posted Oct 11, 2012

Ruts are a common part of everyday living. You may feel in a rut in one part of your life. Your rut may involve big parts of your life. Whatever, if you feel stuck in a rut, you can work your way out.

From time to time, practically everyone gets into a rut. When you are there, what might you expect? (1) You’ll feel in a monotonous, frustrating state. (2) You’ll feel stuck, bored, or trapped. (3) Your rut may mirror conditions such as an ongoing down mood, recurring fears, self-doubts, or various combinations of these conditions. (4) You may feel like Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, Zeus condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustrations. Each time Sisyphus rolled a boulder up a hill, it rolled back. That’s a quintessentially depressing state. Fortunately, you are not stuck in that way. You have choices.

Let’s start with a seven-item rut test. Then, I’ll describe a seven-step strategy for exiting your rut.

Your Rut Test

This informal measure points to a process I found in people who complain about being in a funk, spinning their wheels, and getting nowhere fast. This test can help you identify (or rule out) factors associated with a rut.

Your Rut Test uses a three-point scale where 1 = rarely, 2 = occasionally, and 3 = often. For each item, check the number that you think best describes you.

1. I don’t challenge myself ___ ___ ___

2. I’m not going anywhere in life ___ ___ ___

3. I feel bored ___ ___ ___

4. If it’s uncomfortable, I’ll avoid it ___ ___ ___

5. I don’t believe I can change ___ ___ ___

6. I put off taking a new direction ___ ___ ___

7. I feel trapped in endless monotony ___ ___ ___

Practically everyone is likely to have unique rut features. The test may inspire you to think of special factors that apply to you. This extra step helps isolate factors that you can work to change.

If you have one “2” score and you scored the rest a “1”, you may not be in a rut. Nevertheless, you may be able to use the information to help a friend who is in a rut, find an exit in the direction of adding more meaning to life. If you have three or more “3” scores, that part of this rut process squarely applies to you.

Let’s see what you might do to work your way out of your rut.

Change the Pattern

It often takes more than mapping out a rut pattern to break the cycle. You may pin down the pattern and then sit on your laurels. This can be like sitting on a nail. You know the source of your pain. You still feel stuck. Now comes the challenging part. Taking concrete steps to break from your rut.

On an item-by-item basis, let’s look at how to use my flip technique to change your rut pattern:

1. I don’t challenge myself: Practically everyone periodically avoids meaningful challenges. If you do this often, you are likely to continue in a rut. Use my flip technique to start to break this pattern. What is the most important challenge that you’d wisely undertake? Within the next 24 hours, direct yourself to take the first step toward meeting that challenge.

2. I’m not going anywhere in life: A belief, such as “I’m not going anywhere in my life” is a depressing thought. Use the flip technique to turn this overgeneralization to something more specific. If you were heading in a more satisfying direction, what actions would you take?

3. I feel bored: If you are in a depressive funk, boredom and disinterest may both reflect and contribute to discontent. Use the flip technique. If you were engaged in a formerly pleasurable activity, what would it be? Start by acting as if you could still engage in the activity by engaging in the activity.

4. If it’s uncomfortable, I’ll avoid it: If you want to dodge the discomfort of being in a rut, and dodge the discomfort of changing the pattern, your goose is cooked, so to speak. Flip things around. Accept that discomfort is a normal part of breaking any unwanted pattern. Force yourself to start to engage the change activity. You may soon find that you can tolerate the discomfort that you don’t like.

5. I don’t believe I can change: That idea is a real bummer. It’s also another of those annoying overgeneralizations. You may feel in a down mood. You know you can’t change in an instant by snapping your thumb. Nevertheless, you can take steps to change what you do. As a byproduct, you may eventually feel better. Use the flip technique.Schedule and do something that was previously productive to do. Do it now. Then examine this contradiction: “If I can’t change, then how do I explain making this change?”

6. I put off taking a new direction: Procrastinate on self-correction, and you’ll keep going around the same circle of unfulfilling sameness. Use this version of the flip technique. Pick a task—any task—where you can exit one part of your morass. Give yourself a short timeline, such as “I’ll start change activity X within the next 15 minutes and will work on it for at least five minutes.” Push yourself to execute that plan. You are now on your way past your procrastination barrier.

7. I feel trapped in endless monotony: This resignation thinking may represent how you currently feel more than the broader scope of reality. Use the flip technique to change you language to “I believe I am trapped in endless monotony.” Beliefs are not necessarily the same as facts. Raise this question. If I believed I could engage in purposeful activities, would I still believe I am trapped in endless monotony? Now find something purposeful to do and then do it to change that belief.

The point of using flip technique exercises is to change perspective from rut thinking to coping and challenge thinking. A realistic change in perspective may be a preamble to a productive change in feelings and actions. Changing actions can result in a positive change in perspective. Check it out and see.

If you believe that you are in a troublesome depressive funk, click on my free CBT Depression Workshop. Click on The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression (Second Edition) for evidence-based techniques for combatting depression.

There may be times when you feel like you’ve been programmed on repeat. You feel like you are reliving the same day over and over again. You can’t seem to break free from the monotony of your life.

Does this sound familiar to you? I’m sorry to let you in on this bad news my friend, but you are stuck in a rut. Lucky for you, you’ve found your way to this article. We’ll help you bust out of it. Take these steps, and you will feel like you’ve left behind the hamster wheel for good.

1. Identify What Caused You to Get in a Rut

To get out of a situation that you don’t want to be in, you first need to understand how you ended up there. When you identify the cause of your rut, you know how to combat it. There are several reasons that people end up in a rut. Fear of failure can be a contributing factor. Judgment from others can cause us to stay in a situation that we don’t like.

Perhaps the most common reason people get in a rut, however, is that they are stuck in their comfort zone.

Change is a hard thing to swallow for most people. But if you never break out of your comfort zone, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything new and exciting happening in your life.

2. Find a Stronger Cause

To break free from the mindset that’s gotten you into this rut, you need to change your thinking habits. One thing you should think about is what you want to do with your life.

What are you truly passionate about?

What do you value most?

Is it family? Health?

How much time does your current situation allow you to spend pursuing these things? If the answer is very little time, this is the problem.

Of course, you feel like you’re stuck in a rut because you don’t have the time to spend on things that make you truly happy.

How can you change this for the better? That’s your next step.

3. Create a Plan

Now that you know what’s holding you back and what you want to reach for, you simply need to create a plan that connects Point A to Point B. Point A is where you are now and point B is where you want to end up.

The plan should include SMART goals, or realistic milestones that you can measure.

It’s also important to remember to take baby steps. Don’t expect a total change overnight, or you’ll set yourself up for failure.

Based on your goals, create a routine to help you reach those goals. But make sure to give yourself wiggle room, as the last thing you need is to feel stuck in a whole new rut.

4. Have a Backup Plan

SMART goals are your Plan A, but it’s always good to have a Plan B. Let’s be realistic; we all hit a wall at times when trying to make positive changes in our lives.

So, you need an emergency plan in your back pocket when you feel yourself slipping back into the rut.

  • Do something out of the ordinary: Force you to get out of your comfort zone and find a refreshing new perspective on life.
  • Get active: Working out and playing sports generates an increase of serotonin to the brain. These happy hormones can bust you through the pitfall of negativity.
  • Have a mantra: Repeating positive affirmations to yourself will help to rewire your brain to think positively and believe in your abilities. This can help you overcome fear, stay on track with your goals, and be more productive.

5. Reassess and Reward

You need to find ways to keep you going through this difficult trek and back to a fulfilling life. You will get frustrated, have insecurities, and want to give up at times. Knowing that it’s normal ahead of time can help you understand it but not to indulge in it.

It’s important that you practice self-compassion and make sure you reward yourself for your accomplishments. When you’ve reached one of your goals, even a small one, find a way to pat yourself on the back.

It’s been scientifically proven that positive reinforcements help you to continue doing well. They give you a boost to keep going even through a rough patch.

Now when the rough patches seem to keep coming, you may need to take a different approach. Reassess the situation if you can’t seem to accomplish a goal. This may be a sign that you need to change your tactics.

Look for ways to solve the problem you keep running into, or decide whether this goal is still relevant. It may be that your desires or passions have changed and you want to work towards a different goal.


Here’s the most important thing to remember:

It is possible to get out of a rut.

You just have to practice positive thinking and be willing to make changes.

Positive thinking gives us the confidence to take chances, get out of our comfort zones, and create better habits. Positivity alone can push you through any difficult situation.

It will also help you to see that this rut is simply a place you’ve put yourself. It isn’t an endless pit, and you can succeed in climbing out of it.

Author Bio:

Ryan Sundling is a group marketing manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with The Locale on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.

5 ways to motivate yourself when you’re feeling stuck in a rut

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rut

A common reason people come to therapy is that they feel stuck. For some, feeling stuck is about boredom. Their daily habits have become mundane, and life seems so predictable it’s become stale.

How to change habits when you feel stuck in a rutAmy Morin.
Courtesy of Amy Morin

For others, it’s a feeling of being stuck in a specific situation — like a job they hate or a relationship that leaves them unfulfilled.

When you find yourself feeling stuck, you have to take action. But in the midst of a rut, this often feels impossible.

Fortunately, the following strategies can help you get out of a rut no matter how stuck you feel.

1. Identify several escape routes

There are always many different solutions to a problem. Of course, not all of them are good solutions. But when you’re first trying to look at how to get unstuck, brainstorm as many ideas as you can — even ones you think might be bad.

Create a long list of strategies that could help you escape your current situation. Include ideas that seem awful and ones that might seem impossible (at least for now). The goal is to create a long enough list that your brain will recognize you have plenty of options.

2. Change your routine

While routines can be good for developing good habits — like going to the gym every day — having too much structure in your life could cause you to feel robotic. You need to change things up a bit to get out of the rut.

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Doing things differently helps your brain look at matters from a new angle. It might spark new ideas, fuel a passion, or give you more energy.

You don’t necessarily need to make huge changes — smaller ones can be effective too. Instead of eating dinner right when you get home from work, go for a walk. Or sign up for a class that will help you learn something new.

3. Develop a challenge

Competition is a great way to add fuel to a dwindling fire. And you don’t necessarily need to compete against anyone else. Instead, you can create a challenge that’s just for you.

Your challenge could be related to a specific problem. If you’re in a financial rut, you might challenge yourself to pay down $1,000 worth of debt in a month.

Or you could just create a challenge that gives you a goal to reach every day — like running a mile to see how fast you can do it. Running each day might give you something to look forward to, it could offer a sense of accomplishment, and it may spark new interests in other areas of your life.

4. Design experiments

You don’t have to commit to making a change that is going to last forever. Instead, you can design short-term experiments.

See if they make your life better or worse. If your experiment makes things better, stick to it. If it makes things worse, do something else.

You might design a small experiment like testing whether wearing a different type of clothing makes you feel differently about yourself. If your wardrobe change boosts your confidence, stick with it. If it doesn’t, do something different.

Or you could test a different social media strategy for your business one week. If it gets you positive results, keep it up. If not, try something different.

Make it a goal to have a new experiment every week — whether it’s social, business, fitness, or financial — and you’ll find ways to improve your life.

5. Switch up your social circle

The people you surround yourself with make a big difference in how you see yourself and the world around you. Switching up your social circle can be one of the fastest ways to get unstuck.

Look for ways to reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with, or find ways to meet new people. (This may be a good time to design an experiment if you aren’t sure what to do.)

You also might have a few people in your circle that you want to subtract. If there are people dragging you down, limit your contact, or reduce their influence on your life. You might find this helps you feel a little less “stuck” too.