You awake to a Monday like all the others. You get dressed, drop your kid off at daycare, and go for a run. After showering, you sit down at your desk to do some work. At some point, you make lunch. Something healthy. Your spouse and kid get home later in the afternoon. You play with your kid while your better half makes dinner. Later that night, you do the dishes. You listen to an audiobook during so. Something nonfiction. Soon after, you lay in bed, falling asleep to all the things you’re grateful for.
Copy and paste that day over and over. That is your life. A series of different, yet nearly identical events.
Individually, your days are great. You love running. You enjoy your work. And you appreciate the delicious food your spouse creates each evening. But, like a jumbo box of your favorite chocolates, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.
Thus, you find yourself in a rut.
How to Solve a Problem like Ruts
There is one common symptom of a rut. The feeling of blah. Blah, whose synonyms include ugh, eh, and whatever, can also be identified with this astute question:
If you answered “How are you?” honestly, you’d say, “Meh.”
Your life may be perfect in every way, but if each day mirrors itself, that delight will quickly sour. You can blame it on our nomadic ancestors if you’d like. It won’t help you much in the moment though. In fact, not much will. Or, rather too much will. And that may be the problem. If you search for ways out, one clear answer is that there is no one clear answer. Harvard suggests, “Going for a meandering walk, daydreaming, doodling, and 90 minutes of napping.”
HuffPost recommends meditation, journaling, and introspection.
Forbes advocates for acknowledgment of the problem, breaking big projects into small steps, not getting hung up on perfection, going outside, exercising, talking to someone who will listen, and to keep putting in the work until the problem is resolved.
Let me ask you a question.
To make matters even more complicated, there are so many types of ruts. There are mental ruts and physical ruts. There are relationship ruts and mealtime ruts. So many ruts, so many solutions, so much blah. What are you to do?
The solution is right under your nose. Actually, that’s just a long hair. You should really trim that. Full disclosure, I’ve been meaning to tell you about that hair for a while now but couldn’t gracefully bring it up until this moment. I feel much better.
Let’s move on.
How do you solve the rut? Well, let me ask you this: how have you solved them in the past? Whatever your rut scenario, it’s doubtful your first time experiencing it. What did you do to climb out previously? Think about that while I pose another question: did things improve immediately? As in, when you did start making a change, did the rut disappear instantly? Or did it take time for you to get out of it?
Let’s solve my rut, together.
Look at my life for instance. I’m currently in the middle of a rut. I’m writing this article more to myself than anyone else (including that subtle hint about the nose hair). I have much to be grateful for. And I am grateful for it. Yet I also acknowledge that things are a bit stale at present. Life feels like that copy-paste analogy I mentioned earlier. So what am I doing about it?
Well first, I’ve been doing a fair amount of complaining. Mostly in the form of an inner dialogue but sometimes I let it spill into conversations with others (which everyone surely enjoys).
Seeing as how the complaining hasn’t helped much though, it’s time I embrace a different strategy. Namely, reflection. In the previous section, I posed two questions. What have I done in the past to get out of it? And did things improve immediately? Let’s start with the former. When I consider my previous ruts, there is a commonality.
Lack of variety.
It may be in the foods I eat, the exercises I do, or even the dates my wife and I go on. Obviously then, the solution is to add variety into my life. It’s generally easier said than done, but big picture, that’s the answer.
The Opposite of a Quick Fix
Let’s now consider the second question. Was the rut resolved as soon as these changes were implemented? Honestly, I’ve never really kept track of such things. Until this article, I’ve never felt the need to track the lifespan of a rut. However, my knee-jerk reaction is to stop kneeing jerks as it results in unnecessary conflict. Though they often have it coming and everyone else at the bar seems to appreciate my courage.
Additionally, though I’m not certain, I do feel as though ruts take time to remedy.
One change one time isn’t enough. At least, for me. It’s not until change on a continual basis occurs that I forget about ruts and can start complaining about other things. Like how much I hate unloading the dishwasher. *See? That’s a good sign, right?
So we have answers to the two big questions. How have I gotten out of ruts in the past? Variety. Did the rut end immediately after switching things up? No, it took time for the changes to kick in.
Rut-Less Moving Forward
What could variety for myself look like? If I was in a physical rut, it may be running in the morning instead of the afternoon. Or doing a spin class instead. If it was a mealtime rut, it would be seeking out new recipes. Currently, I’m in what you would consider a mental rut. The same areas of my brain get lit up each day in a very droll, predictable manner.
Because of that, I’m testing out a new goal.
One where I go on an adventure once a week. A full-day adventure where I go somewhere new and spend the entire day exploring. It’s still early days, but I’m hopeful. If that doesn’t add the variety I’m after, I’ll do something else. But for now, I know I must be patient with it.
With that, it’s time for you to solve your rut. Consider the questions of this article. Start testing out ways to escape the mundane. And, do your best to ignore those jerks at the bar.