Stuck in a rut.
Spinning your tires.
These are all terrible places to be and feelings to feel. I’ve personally been in this spot countless times in my life. I think it’s because of how many times I’ve felt ‘stuck in a rut’ that makes me qualified to talk about the best way to get out of it.
What Does Being Off Track Mean?
Before we can talk about ways to fix it, we need to think about what being off track looks like. There have been many times in my life where I didn’t even realize I was off track until I got back on track.
You might be off track if:
You are not making any serious progress toward your goals or dreams.
You don’t see any possibility of improving yourself or your station in life.
You have the same problems come up over and over.
You aren’t implementing any new habits or lifestyle changes.
You feel helpless to affect change in your own life.
You feel uninspired.
You are unhappy with your current situation (job, relationship, social circle, etc) but see no way out.
You are lacking in overall confidence.
Honestly, the list could go on and on. But do you notice a common theme? The overarching theme is being stuck in place. “Stuck in a rut”, “bogged down in the mud”, “off track” – all of these idioms reference the idea of being stuck and feeling unable to make forward progress in your life.
So that’s great and all, but how can we get out of that rut and back on track?
How to Get Back on Track
So if the problem is being stuck, the solution is to make the very first move to getting yourself unstuck.
Think about it: if a train is off its tracks, the conductor is not going to get it back on track and cruising again in one fell swoop. It’s a series of small movements that are going to eventually have the train rolling down the tracks again. They have to call the train company or whoever owns/maintains that stretch of railroad. They have to come out, assess the damage, and then start the process of “rerailing” the train. It’s a long process that takes a lot of people and a lot of tools.
So in our lives, that means making a small but significant change that will let us build forward momentum.
There can be a temptation to think that we have to revamp our entire lives in one day or one week. “I have to fix my sleep schedule, start a new diet, plan a new business, hit the gym every day, and start reading a book per week.” I’ve been there. This only leads to a feeling of pure disappointment when we inevitably fail and remain stuck in our rut.
An all or nothing attitude can be quite dangerous when making changes in our life, which is why the idea of making one change is so powerful. It leads to a subtle shift in our thinking. It gives a much-needed boost to our self-esteem and self-efficacy (our belief in our ability to accomplish things). It provides the momentum we need to power ourselves out of that rut in the long term.
How I Got Back on Track This Year
I’d like to quickly share an example of this in my own life. Just this year, I returned from a beautiful backpacking trip through Nicaragua. I was between school and a job, so I had a lot of down time. The combination of being back to my normal life and having so much free time led me to pick up some bad habits and to begin to feel helpless to change. I was regularly sleeping in until noon, eating absolute garbage, not knowing what my next step in life was, and just generally not feeling confident like I had in the past.
I talked to my therapist and she reminded me that in the past I only had to make one small change and then the dominoes started to fall. So I decided to make one simple change: I quit sugar. Quitting sugar led me to feel healthier and more in control of my life, which led me to implement even more healthy habits, which led me to do more 30 day challenges, which led me to create this blog. Since I quit sugar, I’ve seen massive improvements in my life on all fronts.
Just the simple act of making one change gave me the momentum I needed to get back on track and living my best life. It’s a beautiful thing.
Put This Into Action to Get Back on Track
If you’re stuck in a rut or off track, here’s what you need to do.
- Analyze your life and look for a small but significant change that you want to make. For me, this was quitting sugar because I had a very unhealthy relationship to it. For others, it could mean going to the gym consistently, cutting out junk/processed food, waking up earlier, taking a social media hiatus, or really anything at all. It doesn’t even have to be something hard!
- Make that change. Start doing or not doing whatever it is today. Just making the decision will start the change in momentum.
- Stick with it. Remember that your motivation to change will waver, but I recommend sticking with this new change for 30 days (who would have thought?). Obviously the hope is that you’ll keep it going after that time, but it’s good to have a cut off date to make it less overwhelming.
- Journal to track your progress. Journal about positive changes you are seeing in your life with this new change that you made. Sometimes our progress can get lost in our day to day lives, so it’s important to not only track it but to purposefully look for it.
You’re great. You’re going to get out of this rut. You’re going to get back on track. It’s going to be easier than you think. I believe in you and I’m always here for you – feel free to use the contact me page to get in touch!