Earlier this year, I was stuck in a rut in a major way. I felt like I had put so much time and energy into my business/spiritual growth and I had nothing left to give. I was exhausted, burnt out, and felt really directionless. Honestly, it was really uncomfortable going from being a really passionate person to being stuck in a rut over the course of a year.
Now, I’m grateful that it happened because I can relate to others on a whole new level. While I had been in ruts before, none of them lasted as long as the one that happened this past year. I’m so happy I can now share with you the experience, as well as some guidance and tips around dealing with it.
Step #1: Be honest with someone close to you – Many of the women that I work with were taught that vulnerability is a weakness and that you shouldn’t share your feelings if they are “bad” or “negative”. Keeping your feelings of stagnation inside of you is just going to keep you stuck. Even if it feels really uncomfortable, pick someone safe and let them know how you’ve been feeling stuck. This was hard for me because I have always been the person who helped other people feel better. Many of my clients relate to being this person. You may have to learn how to allow other people to hold space for you, instead of always being the one taking care of others. Believe it or not, it can be pretty uncomfortable when you aren’t used to it! But it feels so good once you lean into it…I promise!
Step #2: Take a break if you need to – I needed to take a break at the height of my rut. I cut down on all unnecessary work, nervously took a pay cut, and created space for me to rest. My rut really impacted my physical health (I was forced to rest), but you may not have to be as extreme about it. A weekend staycation or doing something out of your normal routine may be enough for you, depending on how far into your rut you are. Listen to your body and ask yourself what you need. How much of a break you’ll need will largely depend on how deep into your rut you are. Be kind to yourself while you figure this out!
Step #3: Let go of energy sucks – This one was difficult for me at first, because I have always identified with being the go-to person that everyone can count on. But honestly, a huge cause of my rut was not having clear boundaries with certain people in my life. There were a couple people that would constantly complain to me about their life and instead of drawing boundaries, I let them vent. Over time, it was extremely draining. I had to eliminate these people from my life temporarily so I could take back my power and energy. While they weren’t happy, I felt like they weren’t true friends if they didn’t allow me to put myself first in my extreme time of need. Eventually, they got over it and we were able to establish a relationship that wasn’t as draining after I had recovered. Give yourself permission to let go of all the energy sucks in your life, whether they be people or standing commitments.
Step #4: Get clear (or re-clear) on what you really want – This step for me was really difficult. For awhile, I was trying to get clear before I fully completed steps 1-3. Sometimes we’re not meant to know what our next steps are because we’re supposed to be resting and integrating. This can be really hard for myself and my clients because we tend to be goal-getters and overachievers. We may want to “figure it out” before we are ready. You’ll know that you’re doing this if it feels like you are pushing to figure out what you want, instead of easily accessing it. When major life events happen (a rut included), our priorities often shift. Don’t force figuring it out if the answers aren’t coming. The frustration energy that you generate from doing so will prolong the process of finding clarity.
When you are ready, go out and find a quiet place in nature (it is easiest to hear your intuition here). Then, sit for a brief meditation (5-30 minutes depending on your practice). After that, grab a pen and paper and write at the top of the paper “what I really want”. Without thinking about it too much, tap into your subconscious and answer the question without making any judgment about your answers. Just write down what comes to the surface. This will give you a great place to start. Remember, if nothing is coming to you, chances are you are trying to force clarity. Go back and repeat steps 1-3 until these answers come easily.
Step #5: Take consistent action daily – Now that you are clear on what you want, start working on it 5-15 minutes each day. Remember, the goal isn’t to make a ton of progress really quickly…it’s to build momentum and to feel like you’re making progress towards your truest desires. This aligns you with your soul and has the power to get you out of a rut really quickly.
One of the things that I did to get out of my rut was to write these articles. I made a goal of writing 30 articles in 30 days (each under 30 minutes). Honestly, these articles were nothing special. The point of them wasn’t to be my best work, it was to make me feel like I was consistently making progress. It also allowed me to connect with my audience (which is one of the things I listed as really wanting in step #4). If you want a way to track this, you can download Vitality’s 30 Day Habit Tracker here! Print it out and start tracking the action you’re taking.
Step #6: Ask for help – This one was also really hard for me because I was used to being the “strong one” and was indirectly taught growing up that asking for help made you weak. When I got sick, I had to ask for help from others. It was such an important lesson in the power of receiving. Sometimes, asking for help took to form of just telling people what was going on when they needed something from me. Ironically, some of the people in my life who were the biggest takers started giving to me when I voiced my needs. It was a huge a-ha to me that I hadn’t allowed other people to give to me because I had trained them to just take from me. I took responsibility for this habit and started asking for help more.
Step #7: Take calculated risks – One of the most rewarding things you can do is to take calculated risks around what you want. At the tail end of my rut, I hired a business coach that I had been wanting to work with for probably about six months. I actually made the decision on the one-year anniversary of moving to San Diego (another huge risk I took that paid off handsomely). It was a financial commitment and I wasn’t fully confident it was the right timing (I was still struggling a little bit with my energy levels). But I did a gut check, asked for some signs from The Universe, and decided it was the right choice. After a month or two of meeting with him, I was out of my rut, largely because he was holding me accountable to take action towards the dreams that I identified in step 4.
Step #8: Reward yourself – It’s really easy to get into a rut when your life is all work and no play. Rewarding yourself is a huge contributor to actually accomplishing your goals. It releases feel-good chemicals in your brain and fuels you with the motivation required to continually work on something. Break down your goal into 5-10% increments and give yourself rewards along your journey. If you don’t, you risk losing motivation (which is a really easy way to slip into a rut). Your rewards don’t have to be expensive, the fact that you’re stopping to appreciate your efforts is what is most important. If you’re working towards your goals, know that you deserve to be rewarded for it!
I hope these eight steps help you get out of your rut. Now over to you…what are some tips you have for getting out of a rut? What has worked for you? Which step are you going to implement into your life right away? I’d love to hear from you :)