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Most people have been “in a rut” before, but how many of us know how to describe or explain the feeling? Or how to make it stop?

It’s All in Your Mind

The idea of being “stuck in a rut” sounds like a physical phenomenon. Because the word stuck generally means “being trapped in something.” While there may be several definitions for stuck, the one that’s most fitting for this article is “unable to progress.” 

It’s easy to view being stuck as a physical phenomenon, when being stuck in a rut is really all mental.

The workplace is a common setting, and a common cause, for people feeling stuck. The objective in every moment is to move forward or accomplish a physical task, whether it’s deleting old emails, learning a new software program, or organizing your desk. But the more complex our objectives become, the more opposition we may encounter.

The sources of this opposition to our progress can be very obvious and easy to address or remove. However, you might find that even after obstacles have been removed from the environment, you still feel stuck in a rut. You might have a series of goals to accomplish and it’s actually your mind and decision making process that’s keeping you stuck.  

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Many psychologists will trace being stuck in a rut as far back as childhood incidents. We may have developed behaviors and habits that could have started out as a form of self-preservation, self-esteem, or self-identification. Whatever it is, it’s part of the subconscious signals that we keep sending ourselves. 

This could manifest itself in depression, people-pleasing, laziness, or any kind of self-defeating behavior. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, you have probably been trying to find your way out for a while. But you’ve been unable to move from the place or position that you are currently in.

You are stuck in a rut.

Which Way Is the Exit?

 So now, for the question of the hour. What we’ve all been waiting for.

How do I get out of this rut?

Once again, being stuck in a rut is all mental. Will you need to sit down with a psychiatrist to get unstuck? Not necessarily. But try not to waste too much time trying to rearrange the furniture, thinking that the source of your rut is anywhere other than your own mind.

The original source can be a childhood trauma that you have never dealt with. You may not even know how it is affecting you. The point is that you have subconsciously been dealing with life in the best way you know how; the key phrase being “best way you know how.”

Because that could very well be the behaviors that are keeping you stuck. Whatever your goal is, you are having difficulty reaching it. That goal is different for all of us. For some of us, we might have a career goal. For others it might be a weight-loss goal. And yet for others it might be to get more organized. 

Feeling stuck in a rut means you are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to move forward in some regard. But rather, you remain in this perpetual state of dissatisfaction with your condition. Being stuck in a rut may not even feel like your fault, so that could be one of the stories that you tell yourself which prevents yourself from moving forward. 

You might be stuck in not waking up as early as you should. Seems like a simple enough goal. Set the alarm clock, and get out of bed when it goes off. Easier said than done: the story you will tell yourself as the alarm rings is that you can hit snooze and sleep a few more minutes. 

We can apply that simple example to any and every part of our lives. Whenever you have a goal to accomplish, especially a difficult one, your mind will be right there with your habits and excuses. Ultimately, you are your biggest obstacle to your own progress. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true.

Just Don’t Listen. Do It Anyway

When we know which behaviors and habits are contrary to our goals, it’s easier to disobey or ignore those behaviors. Ignoring your own mind is not easy. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Develop your own strategy for staying focused on your goals.

Maybe you could use an accountability partner, someone who knows your goals and does not have the same difficulties with follow through. Maybe you’re the type of person who needs to be motivated in order to move forward. What’s your “drug” of choice? Music? Travel? Exercise? Meditation? 

Your strategy could also be journaling. Keep a journal about your progress. This allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings about being stuck. You might even discover some things that you never knew in the process. Take some time to think about what strategy for getting unstuck will work best for you.

Don’t waste time ruminating on which strategy to choose. Doing something will always be better than doing nothing. The purpose is to combat the story that you keep telling yourself. And if that story has become, “I’m stuck in a rut. I’m stuck in a rut,” then that’s the first message you should stop listening to. Then just choose the new behavior you are going to replace your “stuck” mindset with.

Your Rut Is Only a Pit Stop, Let’s Go!

Remember that you never have to be “stuck” in a rut. You can even use a rut to your advantage. Refocus, re-energize, and resume your life’s plan. The career coaches at Elevanation know exactly what you can do next.

If you want to supercharge the next chapter of your career, and start moving in the right direction, just click the link below. 

Learn More!

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