A few weeks ago, I was binge-watching The Simpsons its subject of the episode was being in a rut. Like many, I laughed at it.
“I’ve dug myself into a happy little rut here and I don’t want to hoist myself out of it”. ~ Marge Simpson
However when the subject of ruts came up again, this time in serious conversation with a friend, it struck me just how many of us get into ruts and unlike Marge Simpson, aren’t happy being in them.
And while many of us think of being in a rut in terms of personal matters like, relationships—we can also get into ruts professionally. (We can also get into ruts when it comes to leisure activities or the hobbies we enjoy.)
Contrary to popular opinion, getting out of a rut doesn’t have to involve dramatic changes. It doesn’t have to mean quitting our jobs, getting out of long-term relationships and/or moving across the country.
Sometimes, even the smallest change can yield big results.
Here are four easy ways to get out a rut.
1. Shake up your morning routine even in a small way.
Do you always get up at the same time each day? What would happen if you got up 30 minutes or even an hour earlier?
If you normally eat breakfast first and then shower, try doing the opposite.
While these changes may seem trivial, they can have a big impact on our mood.
It may be helpful to jot down how shaking up our usual routine makes us feel. It need not be an elaborate description. We may just write something like, “Felt uncomfortable” or “Having that extra hour was nice”.
The goal here is to notice how we react to change. Some may embrace it and others may hate it.
There is no right or wrong way to feel here. Rather, consider the writing a useful tool to gauge if the change feels like too much or too little for our individual needs.
2. Try a new food.
Most of us go grocery shopping at least once a week and we tend to buy the same things over and over again. Deciding to try a new food may introduce us to a different part of the grocery store.
For those who love to cook or are more ambitious, try a new recipe. Thanks to the internet, the sky is the limit when it comes to new ideas.
Even a small change in our diet make an impact—we need not try an elaborate or overly exotic. If we usually dine alone we can shake things up invite a friend or two to join us for the meal.
3. Plan to spend a good part of a weekend or day off away from home.
I notice that because I seldomly make plans on the weekends, I inevitably end up doing the same things.
Things are different if I am away from my home turf.
By away, I don’t mean it’s necessary to be hours away from our homes. (I am always surprised by how many parts of my county I have yet to explore, and it is hardly a huge area.)
Getting away and seeing new things can shake things up just enough.
4. Approach something we usually enjoy doing with a beginner’s mind.
Speaking as someone who enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, I know how easy it is to get into a rut even when we sincerely like things. (Sometimes when I am teaching, my mind and mouth goes on autopilot.)
One way to shake things up is to imagine we are doing the things we love for the very first time. Doing so is likely to help us remember what we first loved about it from the beginning.
Plus, it is possible to learn something new when we approach things this way.
Indeed, one of the quickest ways to gauge if we are actually in a rut or not is to ask ourselves if there is nothing new to learn. If the answer is, “yes”, then we are most likely in a rut.
We all get into ruts sometimes. Getting out of them need not be a chore nor does it require radical change.
Often, just a small tweak or two is enough for many while those of us looking to make a major change may find that starting small gives us the courage to actually do so.
At the very least, it can’t hurt.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock