3 ways to get out of a rut

3 ways to get out of a rut

Feeling stuck? Not sure how to get out of a rut?

These 3 tips will help you unlock fresh energy and kickstart the changes you may want to make.

As you’re reading this I’m guessing you’re looking to make some kind of change in your life – or maybe in your work. Maybe you feel trapped in a dull daily routine.

Studies show that, in our 40s and 50s particularly, our satisfaction with life can be lower than at any other time. It decreases from when we’re younger and then it increases again as we get into our 60s and 70s. Other studies show that finding meaning in our lives becomes increasingly important the older we get.

I’m in my 50s and in 2014 I found myself really bored with my daily routine, even though I was motivated in my work. I just felt like I couldn’t sit at the same desk for even another day.

It felt as though I was on a treadmill. My senses felt dulled, and I had lost my enthusiasm for a lot of the things I used to enjoy. I had to make some changes.

Maybe you feel the same?

Sometimes we can be afraid to make changes though, because it seems like too big a challenge – or maybe other people try and put us off, not wanting us to take any risks.

If life is going to continue to have meaning for us, it’s vital that we bring our focus back to what we truly want for ourselves, instead of what we feel other people expect of us or what we feel we’re ‘supposed’ to do.

These tips give you 3 ways to get out of a rut – to help kickstart the changes you need to make

Before you follow the practical suggestions here, take yourself to a different environment with some fresh stimulation – so you can let your imagination flow. Maybe go for a walk in the woods or to your local café. Somewhere different. Don’t stay sitting at your desk.

And don’t put it off. Life is short.

When my parents were in their early 50s, they were both diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and they slowly deteriorated over the next 25 years, succumbing to dementia and cancer too, until they died in their 70s. They never got to do all the things they may have planned for their later years.

When I was in my 40s, my (then) partner was killed in a car crash, and so I am even more acutely aware that life is unpredictable – and life won’t wait for us.

This is your life, no one else’s. Make it one you want to live.

Tip #1 – Remember what you love

I know from my own experience that when you’re stuck in a rut it’s very easy to forget what you used to love. It’s easy to forget what used to fire you up and make you come alive.

One of the ways to remember what you love is to take yourself back to your childhood.

One of my own earliest memories is of riding my tricycle across the sandy beaches in the south of England when I was just three or four years old. I think that was when I first felt a longing to explore. I remember looking out over the sea to the horizon and feeling excited about what might lie beyond. Everything seemed so vast. I’ve never forgotten that feeling – it was one of complete awe (even though the sea I was looking out over was only about 50km wide across the English Channel!).

In my teens I loved getting creative and making things – including crazy cardboard houses. Today I love making vegan chocolates and greetings cards.

Think back over your own life to times when you weren’t bogged down with day-to-day life, and write down some of the things you used to love. Once you’ve done that, take a few moments to remember how it felt to do them. Feel it as intensely as you can can – because these feelings can be the kickstart you need to make changes to the way you live – and maybe to how you work.

Tip #2 – Picture yourself in two years time

This has always been powerful strategy for me when I’ve had to make big decisions – for example, changing my job, moving somewhere new or making some other kind of difficult decision.

I picture myself two years ahead, and I look at what I will be like – and what my life will be like – if I make no change at all. Very often it’s that picture in my mind – the result of making no change – that tips the balance one way or another into the decision I then make.

Sometimes we need a visual image like that to kickstart us out of a rut. If the picture we’re seeing of ourselves in two years time (or even a year ahead) is something that fills us with dread or something we know will not make us happy, then it’s a sign we need to do something about it now.

Listen to your longings. Listen to what your heart is telling you about any given course of action – not just the pros and cons in your head. Listen to your intuition; in my experience it’s rarely wrong.

Tip #3 – Make a plan

Lots of people make a plan at the end of a year or at the beginning of a new one – but any time is a good time to make a plan!

One of the most important things when you’re making a plan is not to let that negative voice in your head stifle your imagination or tell you what is and isn’t possible. It might be your own voice, or the voice of someone you know. Or it could be the voice of what we feel we’re expected to do in life.

While you’re going through this process, do your best to ignore it. Instead, let your imagination go wild and think about all the things you want to include in your plan. Imagine that time and money and circumstance are irrelevant; they can’t affect your plan.

The author and business coach, Dan Sullivan,wrote a book called The 25 Year Framework. It’s a book you can read in an hour, and in it he gets you to think differently about time – and to think really big.

I remember doing a 25 year plan for myself, and I remember how liberating it felt to be able to include all the things I feared I would never have time for in my life. If I take good care of myself there’re no reason why I shouldn’t actually be able to do many of the things in my 25 year plan.

I’ve listed all the places I want to go in the world, all the books I want to write and all the things I want to do.

So sketch out your own 25-year plan. Just write down everything you can think of that you really want! Once you’ve sketched it out – even if it’s just a skeleton plan – you should be feeling more excited and more positive about what you can do.

If your current age leads you to think that a 25 year plan just isn’t feasible, think again. The beauty of this is that the ’25’ doesn’t actually matter; it’s the act of thinking expansively that allows you to reconnect with what you really want. I remember hearing Dan Sullivan speaking about his 25 year concept: his own plan takes him to well beyond 100 years old. It’s the way it opens up our thinking that counts here.

Happy planning! These 3 ways to get out of a rut can make a big difference to your life, so start putting them into practice today. Let us know in the comments what kind of new things you have in store.


  1. Bob Howard-Spink 2 years ago

    Great article Angela. I especially like the tip “to picture yourself in two years time.” You’re right. This offers a visual, and so semi-tangible outcome. It provides realism, making the “do-nothing” downsides more uncomfortable and the positive outcomes both more satisfying and necessary.

    • Author
      Angela Sherman 2 years ago

      Thanks Bob. Yes, the picture of the ‘pain’ can be a powerful catalyst in spurring us into action. 🙂

  2. Hilkka Matilainen 2 years ago

    Yes, good and inspiring article, thank you Angela ! Thé third tip was something for me 😉 Now beginning to write the bucket list of my own.

    • Author
      Angela Sherman 2 years ago

      Glad you enjoyed it, Hilkka. Have fun planning! It’s great to let our imagination go wild. 🙂

  3. Tina Haben 2 years ago

    I love the way you have appealed to the two types of people we are in this article. We usually fall into one of two categories – ’Reaching for the carrot’ or ‘burning platform’. The first is motivated by looking at what can be better and striving to get to that image (promotion, more money, more time, better life) . The second is pushed to change by the discomfort of where they are becoming greater than the discomfort of change.
    I am in the second category, which you would think would be less motivating than the first but actually I’ve done so many things and lived in so many places I don’t think it matters what drives you as long as you embrace life in all its wonderful guises

    Once again thank you for stimulating my mind and soul

    • Author
      Angela Sherman 2 years ago

      That’s wonderful, Tina! I think many of us start in the second category, because it’s that ‘discomfort’ that prompts us to do something about our situation. And maybe we can’t actually be in the first category until there’s enough ‘pain’ to make us seek something better. I love your last thought – that it doesn’t matter what drives us as long as we embrace life in all its wonderful guises. Absolutely. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *