No matter how busy our lives, we can all get stuck in a rut sometimes. You probably know the feeling yourself. For example, have you ever…
– Thought back to how life used to be, with all your hopes and dreams. And then realized your life hasn’t quite shaped up the way you wanted it to.
– Realized today was the same as yesterday, which was the same as the day before, and so on and so on. It’s like Groundhog Day but without the comedy.
– Done something that doesn’t particularly interest you, but hey, anything is better than spending the day doing the exact same thing you did yesterday.
– Lived on autopilot… you wake up, brush your teeth, get the kids to school, do the chores, watch tv, make dinner… ad infinitum… and then realized you just can’t take this anymore. Surely life has to be more exciting than this?
– Stared out of the window, decided your neighbours have a far more exciting life than yourself – look, there goes Mrs. Jones again after another weekend jet-setting – and wished you could have a piece of what they are having!
– Looked at your weekly planner and realised there is absolutely nothing on it at all that makes you feel excited or passionate. And the same goes for the next week, and the next…meh!
If you have ever been through any of those feelings, then yes, your life is probably stuck in a rut. That’s nothing to feel guilty about, however. You are living a life that many of us lead; unlike Mrs Jones and her jet setting lifestyle, which, let’s be honest, is out of the realms of possibility for most of us. Life trundles along, but it doesn’t mean we are unhappy. We get to that point of ‘this is where we are supposed to be,’ or ‘this is how my life has ended up.’ You feel stuck, but you almost resign yourself to that fact. Such is life.
Of course, if you aren’t happy, or you are sure there must be something else out there for you, then there are ways to get out of the hole you have fallen into. If you are tired of being stuck in a rut and are unsure what to do, ask yourself the following questions. They may just help you find your passion again.
- What makes you happy?
Look at areas of your life right now. Which things make you feel the happiest? Chances are, you will come up with answers familiar to many of us – family, work, faith, friendships, your home – but list the items that take priority for you. Be thankful for those things, even if elements of them have become routine. Sometimes being stuck in a rut is a state of mind, and when we practice gratitude for what we do hold dear in life, we may not feel so bad after all.
- What were your childhood dreams?
Life may not be how you imagined it to be, so go back to your childhood dreams. Where did you see your life heading? What could you imagine yourself doing? Chances are, some of these will be a tad fantastical – your dreams of flying to Mars or owning a mansion may be a little out of the realms of possibility – but there may be ideas you had that could actually be within your grasp. Think about them, and consider how you could make some of those dreams come true.
- What skills do you possess?
We all have skills, yet many of them go unfulfilled because we don’t get the chance to use them. On the other hand, some of those skills will get used, but they may not be in the things we enjoy doing. So consider what you are good at and look at where you could use them in a pursuit that you will enjoy. Perhaps you could follow a new passion – Good at writing? Start that novel you have always been meaning to write. Enjoy baking? Perhaps start your own business. There are many avenues where your skills could be used, so list them and think about the possibilities. You may also be interested in the 10 most affordable online Master’s in Social Work as a new skill.
- What is holding you back in life?
You may have ideas, but your life may be full of things that are keeping you stuck in that rut. Some of these things will be inevitable, and you may have to wait awhile before you can spread your wings a little more. For example, if you have a young family, you will have to prioritise some of your time. You might also have a full-time job that you need to keep going to bring the money in. Still, they don’t have to restrict your entire life. Get a childminder once in a while and find time in the week to do things that don’t always revolve around your children. Look for other work if your current job is taking you nowhere. Study at home with an online course in something that can improve your future; an msw degree for example. You may have commitments in your day-to-day life, but they shouldn’t restrict your entire life.
- Are you holding yourself back?
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. “Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that, I’m not good enough,” you might say, or “I would do that but I have this to do and that to do and blah blah blah.” Often, we formulate excuses in our head that are limiting our life. When stuck in a rut, we can become too comfortable in that position, even though we hate it. The idea of doing something else causes us feelings of doubt and fear. We may have become lazy within our routine and trying to improve matters may be more effort than we are willing to put in. You might want to follow your dreams, but other people may have put negative thoughts in your head that have caused you to stop fighting for what you really want. You could do something else, but your unhelpful thinking tells you otherwise. So sort your head out, ask for help if you need confidence, don’t listen to the negative patter of others, know that you are better than you think, and move forwards.
- Where do you want to be in the next five years?
We could have asked you where you want to be tomorrow, but if it involves making life-changing decisions, you should probably think about the longer term. So figure out what you want your life to look like in several years time. Do you want to feel the way you do now? If not, what can be changed? Write down your hopes for the future, and include those things that are realistic to achieve. Perhaps you want a change in your career. You may want a bigger friendship group. Maybe you want to move out of your home. Then include things that seem unrealistic, but you wish could happen anyway. In both cases, work out what you could do to make those things happen. If you have a faith, pray that your hopes come true. Talk to others and see if they can help you achieve what you want. If you really don’t want to be in the same place five years from now, take those steps to better your life chances.
- How many days/weeks/months/years are you off from old age?
It’s time for a dose of reality. When we say old age, it is subjective, but for the sake of argument, let’s say 90 years old. Life is short, and you will be old before you know it. When you get to that age, will you look back on your life and feel proud and content? Will you have achieved all that you set out to do? Have you left a legacy for others to follow? Or will you, at the age of 90, still be in exactly the same place you are today, except with a few more wrinkle lines. Old age is a hard pill to swallow (and you will probably be swallowing a few hard pills when you get to old age), and you don’t want to look back with any regrets. “I could have done this” or “I should have tried harder” are some of the things you may say to yourself. So consider your life, and make every effort not to waste another moment, whatever that means for you.
If you are happy with where you are, then that’s completely fine. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. On the other hand, if any of what we said has resonated with you, and you are stuck in a rut you want to get out of, now is the time to start thinking about a change. There are people out there to help you, from counselling professionals to your friends and family, so seek advice and assistance where you need it. In short, what we are saying is this. Start thinking about your life today to give you a brighter tomorrow. You only have one life, and it would be a shame if you didn’t grasp a few of the possibilities that are available to you. We wish you every success.