Ruts are difficult to get yourself out of. Here's why we find ourselves in them & how to get out of them.
Does this sound familiar: “I was driving home from work after a long day. I pulled out of the car park and then before I knew it, I was turning onto my street. I can’t remember anything about the journey.” Lots of people have said this to me and it’s happened to me loads of times I must admit.
Routine makes time appear to go faster. As we repeat actions over a period of time, the freshness and awareness of our commute to and from work becomes second nature and we go through the same actions as the day/week/month. We don’t register the details of the journey as there is nothing new about it; nothing for us to learn or experience, so the time slips by without us registering it fully. The occasion becomes ‘lost’ in our memories.
When were young, everything was new; we soaked up details in our adventures and learnt from them. As we grow older and settle into a routine with our work life balance, the new and fresh experiences become less. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves in a rut; we don’t register the details of everyday life, so it slips by without us registering it fully.
Routine makes life easier, so, as the path of least resistance we often drift into routines that soon become ruts - I once heard a rut described as a coffin with no ends!. We then begin to notice how deep the rut has become; we notice every detail of the hole we’ve made for ourselves; we feel every miserable emotion and blame everyone and everything for us being in it. In this state, time slows down, drags as we experience the ‘newness’ of being in a new place – albeit a depressing one.
Sounds simple but I know it isn’t easy to do. Here are some steps to help you:
Action 1: Take time out to recognise that you are either heading towards, or are in rut. I don’t mean a quick check in with yourself; I mean a meaningful talk with yourself (or someone you respect).
Action 2: If you’re prepared to make the effort, make a plan to get out of the rut. For those of us who don’t like making plans I suggest you re-think. It may be that just letting things happen to you is what got you in the rut in the first place. If you don’t have a plan for your life, there are plenty of people who will have one for you, so take control of your life.
Action 3: Getting out of a rut is not easy so reach out for as much support as you can. Asking for help is not a weakness, but an acknowledgment that you are only human and have limitations.