What To Do In A Rut?

12 Aug

I’m back. What a week. Good, but tiring. Ironic how we often need a vacation after our vacation. But still, it was a vacation and a nice break from our normal routines (good and bad). Now to get back to good routines and schedules, while trying to weed out those things that I pretty much know I 1) don’t need to do, 2) shouldn’t do or 3) have been meaning to stop doing. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those life draining habits we somehow pick up over time that we think was going to be relaxing, a hobby, something you wanted to try but now is just another chore. Or it’s a habit that is making life dreary and can even sour good parts of our day. Basically those things that put us in a rut as we just try to “survive” another day. Ladies and Gents, we weren’t made to “survive the day”. We were made to live, and live abundantly!

Now I’m not one to say “Have will power and go do it” and then share lots of glorious life examples to show you how I’ve done it in my life. (Not to mention how is that helpful? Maybe inspiring if you’re reading it in just the right mood, but more likely it would just be depressing to read.) Instead I would say “Let’s make a plan and try it out and see how far we get!”. So let’s…

First thing first though is how do we get out of a rut so that we can do the things we want or mean to do and not the things we don’t and know we shouldn’t do? (Forget the things other people say you should be doing, that’s a whole other topic for another day.)

Well, we do something different. It’s that simple.

Ok, two things are probably running through your mind. The first is “Ha, simple… that’s an understatement” or the second, which is like what I thought when I read this today (from two different writers in two different posts in my deluge of saved rss reader articles), “Oh, that totally makes sense.”

In response to the first, sometimes an ingrained habit is hard to break… that is why we make a habit of good things we want to do and create routines to give us structure in our life (and subsequently what kids need even more than us adults, as they’re still developing). These habits and routines help us so we won’t stop doing what we mean (and want) to do. But in the situation with a bad habit, we have to break it. There’s no easy way to ease out of it “naturally” or hope it will just stop itself. We have to break the habit, stop doing whatever it is we’re doing and break ourselves from the rut. The key is to fill it with something else. Even if that something else is temporary stop gap. It’s something to fill the void to keep us from slipping back into our old habit because something has taken it’s place. Best of all being, using a new habit we’ve been meaning to develop in place or our old habit.

For example, if you’re wanting to stop impulse buying at the mall when you’re bored… then stop going to the mall with your kids on days that you just want to “get out and do something”. Go to the park for some fun and exercise. Go for a nature walk to enjoy nature more. Make a playdate to build some friendships (for you and your kids). Let your kids pick the destination for the day (within reason of course) to increase your spontaneity and make great childhood memories. It seems like a silly thing, but sometimes we don’t even realize what we’re doing and what we’re doing is enabling ourselves in doing some things that we never intended to do and definitely didn’t want to make a habit of doing, all the while preventing ourselves from getting out and doing things we long to do.

In response to the second thought. Yep, really, do something different. What a “eureka” thought.

I make excuses all the time, you’ve heard excuses and sometimes we unconsciously dissuade ourselves from change with excuses. But these excuses usually hold thin when push comes to shove. Instead we need to stop with the excuses (which means sometimes sitting down and brainstorming what those unconscious excuses are so we can hold them up to the light and see their “thinness”) and give oursevles a “pick me up”. We need to go back to our plans. And that plan comes from our “Mission Statement”.  Companies have them, churches have them, some families have them and people can have them too. They don’t have to be complex, but they basically spell out what you’re goals and intentions are in any area of life. It can be a simple life verse, a quote to live by, or a detailed 20 page summary with sections on specific areas of your life.  But armed with this plan, then you can take anything and everything you’re doing and ask, “Does this fit within what I’m trying to achieve?” If not, then either 1) say “No” and move on or 2) adjust your Mission Statement. (Just make sure those adjustments are not another way to manipulate yourself into more things that fill your day with unnecessary fluff and that put you right back into rut alley.) Because without a plan or even a vague goal in mind, we end up like hamsters… just running in our wheel getting nowhere fast.

Which is why vacations and retreats are great. It’s a forced “stop everything” period. We break most of our routines as we’re forced into a “new” place, with sometimes “new” people that we dont’ see day to day and given a “new” set of activities to do or try. This can essentially uplift our spirit, give us new perspective, give us a “breather from life” and fill us with joy. And as long as we don’t immediately fall back into our old habits and routines (without evaluation, because we don’t want to lose the good with the bad) when we get back, then not only can the time away be fun, “restful” and full of things we love but it definitely kicks you out of a rut fast. But don’t wait for a whirlwind getaway trip to get this forced break. Help yourself to a mini-vacation (or retreat) by doing something different!

What’s your ideas of something different you can do for yourself, with your family, with your kids that can help break you out of a rut?

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