How to Get Out of a Rut FAST
Everyone, at some point in their lives, experiences ruts. You might have been very productive, kicking ass, crushing it at work, going to the gym, being social, but slowly you notice a weird mood creeping in. I’m talking about that feeling of being stuck, that life is not as engaging as before, and motivation cannot be found anywhere you look. When your friends ask you “how’s everything doing?” you say “okay but really it’s “meh”.
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s those times when your creative juices are not flowing, you are not looking forward to your future and the only thing that awaits you is the same day, over and over again, like the movie The Edge of Tomorrow but with less aliens, cool swords, and, of course, without Emily Blunt.
I know… pretty disappointing, right?
Cool! So before going into the tips, I want to disclaim that I’m not a professional psychologist, I’m just a regular dude sharing what he learned and works for him.
Without further ado, let’s explore 7 ways to get out of a rut fast and reclaim your motivation!
If you paid attention on your physics class, you are probably familiar with the principle of inertia. I’m talking about the resistance of objects to any change in its motion and direction. That’s why when you are driving a car and brake your body goes forward – like you were saluting a general or something.
But this principle doesn’t apply only to physical objects – it also exists in your mind and psychology.
Our minds, just as balls and cars and people, are going in a direction and have a sort of motion. These are our habitual feelings, thoughts, moods, and behaviors. That’s why it’s difficult for us to change moods or habits in a whim, because they have an inertia of their own and won’t change without an outside force – just like physical objects.
So, what’s the best way to deal with this principle? The strategy is two-fold. The first one is not to fight with the rut. It will be very difficult to completely get out of a rut in minutes because it already has the inertia within you. So the best way is to counteract it, little by little until it has no force and it stops on its own. With this method, you will start with simple and easy things you can accomplish that helps you achieve momentum, or opposite inertia. Perhaps this is taking a shower, or going for a 10 minute walk, brushing your teeth, swiping your butt (hope you are doing it often), or turning on your computer (not to play League of Legends, of course). Whatever it works for you to start get the metaphorical ball rolling.
Once you get your motivation tank a bit filled, you can start going to the gym, being productive again, going out, meeting with friends, and so on. Notice that if there’s no fuel in your motivation tank or no inertia in your “productivity ball”, these behaviors will be very difficult to accomplish. By starting small, you build the necessary fuel or inertia to take on bigger and more demanding projects and action.
And this is all accomplished by using understanding the Inertia Principle and making it work on our favor rather than against us.
A key thing to remember here is not to underestimate the power of small changes and 1% improvements. If you want to learn more, you can read the following artitle.
2. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, You Asshole
This is a thing I need to remember to myself constantly. I always set high standards for myself. I need to go to the gym x times a day, I should write the script in 1 day, I should not eat junk food, and much more, and when I don’t perform or measure as I was expecting, I criticize myself, which makes the situation worse.
By admitting and accepting we are on a rut instead of fighting against it, it’s much easier to get out. Because see, fighting with ourselves in these types of situations is like finding ourselves in a hole and instead of trying to get out, we dig deeper and deeper.
When we criticize ourselves, when we condemn our moods and behavior, we are not making the situation better, we are feeding the fire that is keeping us stuck in the first place.
Once we accept how we feel and what we do, we are in a much better position to change. Which leads us the third strategy:
3. The “I Enjoy It” Strategy
This one goes hand in hand with the “Don’t be too harsh on yourself, you asshole” strategy. If you are on a rut, you are most likely not enjoying feeling and behaving that way. If that’s the case, there are two different dynamics going on inside you:
- The fact that you are in a rut and not motivated
- And the fact that you don’t like being in a rut
And of course, you don’t want be in a rut, that’s the definition of being in one. But what if you changed your disposition about it? What if instead of fighting against it, you enjoy it. I’m not kidding, see what happens when you enjoy feeling unmotivated, or lazy, or bored.
If you’ve done it, you’ll notice something kind of weird happening. When you accept and enjoy feeling how you feel right now, the rut loses its grip on you because you are not feeding it anymore – it loses its purpose. If you truly enjoy what you are now experiencing, there’s no reason for you to be on a rut in the first place! Look, perhaps this doesn’t make much sense until you try it and experience it for yourself. I’ve made an article specifically for this here.
4. The “Do it Now” Principle
When we see people on YouTube, or famous actors and actresses, successful businessmen and great musicians, we probably think to ourselves how do these people have so much motivation and never feel down or are unproductive. In a way, we idolize them and create a mental image of a relentless, productive machine that doesn’t even sleep to accomplish more than the rest. But this is not at all true. We are all human beings and we go through the same stuff.
But there’s one big difference between them and us and it’s this one: they don’t care how they feel. Yeah, you heard me right. They don’t care how they feel. They could be feeling down, they could be in a rut, they could be unmotivated, by you know what? They do it anyway. And that’s why this principle is called that way.
The Do It Anyway Principle rests on the premise that action isn’t always precluded by feeling. To put it in other words, you don’t need to feel motivated to take action.
Recalling the “being in the hole analogy”, we don’t need to feel motivated to start trying to escape, we just do it. In the same way, don’t wait for your feelings to change to take some positive action. You’ll notice that just by taking action, the feeling will follow.
To make sense of this strategy, I want us to explore emotions through a perspective that is not usually used.
Culturally we believe that emotions are something that happen to us. Some external event caused us to feel a certain way. Our dog die, we feel sad. We win a match in Fortnite, we feel happy. We receive a cute text message from our boyfriend or girlfriend and we feel loved, and so on. This is commonly held as true.
But what if we propose that emotions are something that we generate, mostly unconsciously, to deal and respond to different situations. I mean, it makes sense. That’s why people react and feel differently to the same event. Each individual interprets the situation in a specific light that makes them feel that way.
Interesting stuff, you are probably thinking. But how does this relate to being stuck in a rut. That’s where we are going.
So if we are saying that we are the ones unconsciously generating the emotion by interpreting the situation, or life, or myself in a certain way, the question we must begin to ask is: how am I interpreting the situation so that it makes me feel like I’m in a rut? Why do I feel this way? What is it that I’m holding as true?
So, by making such questions we open up to the possibility of uncovering the source of the rut and we are much more capable of getting free of it all together.
6. Create a Brighter Future
Think about it, being in a rut is, in part, a result of not being motivated. So, why are we not motivated? It’s because we have nothing to work on, to expect, and to look forward. I mean, how could you not be motivated if you are about to go on a cool vacation to the Caribbean, or if you are working on something that truly inspires you. How could you not go to the gym if you wake up every day imagining how fit you’ll look and how much energy you’ll have? Impossible!
Basically, cool future = motivation = no rut!
It’s a very simple yet powerful formula! So, if you want to get out of a rut, envision a better future for yourself. Perhaps look for another job that moves you more, start planning moving to another city, search for some pictures in Google and create a Vision Board, start doing daily affirmations and visualization, and so on.
In a nutshell, create brighter future that motivates you! You can go here to learn more about it!.
And the last and perhaps most powerful strategy is…
6. Nothing is dull when you are present
If you look at it long and hard, you’ll realize that another component of a rut and being unmotivated is that everything feels like more of the same. It’s the same routine of waking up at 8AM, having the same cup of coffee, taking the bus and go to work, do the same repetitive task over and over again, coming back home and going the gym. Doing the same exercises you’ve been doing for the past year, go back home again, cook the old and familiar “taste like nothing” salad, watch some Netflix until you fall asleep. This in repeat.
It feels like being bored with life, that you had enough and there’s nothing new and captivating about it – that you’ve seen it all and you don’t want it anymore. So, what can we do about it?
We are getting there!
You surely took vacations somewhere for the first time. Perhaps you went skiing, or to the mountains, or to the beach. Every walk you took, every dinner you had, every adventure you explored, were full of enthusiasm and energy because, of course, it was something new, something you never experienced before. It had the unfamiliar component all over it.
But then you come back to your usual routine and find the same shit you experienced before. And oh, surprise! you find it boring, and how could you not!? But, How could you?
What if I told you that your own unconscious mind mechanisms are working against you to feel that way?
Each time you perceive something for the first time, an object, a feeling, a sensation, a place, a person, your mind is attentive and absorbing as much information as it can. But as the time goes by, your mind becomes familiar with it and mentally labels it as known. And in doing so, it takes the newness out of the person, thing, feeling, or place. It’s not relevant for you anymore, so you dismiss it. What happens is that you replace the actual thing with a crust of concepts you created based on your past experience with the thing.
I know this may sound like crazy stuff but give it a try. Right now, grab some object and look at it. But look at it as you were seeing the thing for the first time. Like an innocent child that’s exploring the world for the first time. Be aware of the numerous mental labels and concepts you add to the thing and throw them away – just for a little bit. Pay attention on the shape, how the light interacts with it, how it feels in the hand, how much it weights and so on.
If you’ve done this short exercise, you’ll realize that by throwing away what you think about the thing, it recovers that aliveness component that it once had. In a weird way, it becomes unknown and your attention to detail increases. All of a sudden, It’s a new experience!
Now imagine extrapolating this to your daily life. From brushing your teeth to going to the gym, taking the train, and speaking with your high-school friends. Everything, every situation, person, object, and activity can recover that novelness that it once had. Pretty mind blowing, right?
How could you be in a rut with a mindset like this? Can you see it’s impossible? I dive deeper into this subject in this article you should definitely check it out!
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