You may have started the year eagerly and enthusiastically looking forward to achieving a long list of goals and resolutions, some of which may have been carried over from previous years. Or the holiday season and subsequent new year may have caught you completely by surprise. Instead of starting the new year feeling optimistic and motivated, you are feeling distressed and discouraged.
Are you stuck in a rut, no if and or but, in a particular area of your life be it personal or professional?
Perhaps you have experienced a significant life change in the past year – the death of a loved one or long-time friend or the end of a marriage or friendship. You may be finding yourself suffering severe Sunday stress in anticipation of Monday morning melancholy as you are not approaching your business or professional practice and its valued clients with the amount of love, care and attention as in the past or you see your job as just that – a way to earn a paycheck rather than a passionate, progressive and productive step that you are taking on the road to a successful career.
Being stuck in a rut personally or professionally is like facing a large boulder that you must push aside and get past in order to bask in the glow of new beginnings, adventures and opportunities. You may be surrounded by people who seem to have it all together and who are happily zooming along the highways of their lives, careers and businesses without encountering any detours or speed bumps. On the other hand, you seem to find yourself stuck at the side of the road in a torrential rainstorm or blinding snowstorm. As much as you try to spin your wheels and step on the gas to get out, you are mired in the mud or stuck in the snow.
Here is what to do to get out of the rut slowly and simply.
First, stop spinning your wheels and just be still. This will allow you to think clearly and creatively.
Second, identify where you are in a rut. It may be something obvious or it may be subtle so will take some thinking time to identify it.
Third, avoid the temptation of doing whatever it takes to get out of the rut. This may seem counterintuitive but here’s the thinking. You want to know where you are going before you get out of the rut so that you have a destination to look forward to and that works for you.
Fourth, create a plan with a series of simple goals and slow action steps. Do one or two action steps toward a goal every day to slowly and simply get out of a personal or professional rut. Here are some suggestions for slow action steps that will allow you to achieve simple goals that will release you from the rut: connect with one positive and supportive family member, friend or colleague daily for 30 minutes in person or by telephone; participate in a professional networking group or take a personal or professional development class that meets weekly; join a gym and commit to go before work three times a week; sign up for a sports, cultural or creative activity and go twice a week; take a client, customer or colleague for lunch or coffee and treats to get their feedback on what you are doing well and what needs improvement; and have an honest conversation with yourself about your job – is it you or is it the job? If it is you, commit to changing your attitude to one of gratitude and if it is the job, talk to your leadership and see what can be done to give you more opportunity and responsibility in your current role.
While others may help you get out of your personal or professional rut by towing you out of the ditch or snow bank, remember that you are in the driver’s seat and must do what is required to stay out of the rut by navigating the best way forward. If you take slow, simple steps and avoid rushing ahead without a well thought out plan, you will get out of the rut faster than you think and will soon be happily speeding down the highway of personal and professional success and happiness.