Escape the Rut and Embrace Your Life | The BridgeMaker

Escape the Rut and Embrace Your Life

By on Sep 23, 2009


The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions. – Ellen Glasgow

Article by BridgeMaker contributor Ralph Jean-Paul. Please visit him at

Do you ever felt like you are stuck in a loop? Like a hamster running around in a wheel that is spinning but not going anywhere? We have all felt this way at one time or another. The question is, how do we remove ourselves from this seemingly helpless circumstance?

Being stuck in a rut can sometimes feel like a powerless situation with no light at the end of the tunnel. The rut is usually accompanied by inactivity, depression, and anger which often make the situation worse.

One of the major ruts that I have experienced happened about four years ago and seemed to last forever. I had been doing well in my career and taking part in activities that I was proud of. My relationships were intact and I was optimistic about my future. Even with everything going my way, I fell into a major rut that seemed to come out of nowhere.

After searching and searching, I finally realized that I was bored. And it wasn’t the type of boredom a 9 –year-old gets when he has too much time on his hands and there is nothing good on TV. This was the type of boredom that had been building and building for months.

I had come off of an amazing few months of activity, experience, and excitement but now the routine was becoming unexciting. Once I realized what was causing my rut, I took action to pull myself out.

Here are some of the types of ruts you may have experienced:

  • Relationship
    Dating slumps and relationships that do not seem to progress are types of relationship ruts.
  • Career
    Being in a job position or field for too long without advancement can make a person feel stuck.
  • Daily Routine
    Driving on same roads, working the same hours, in the same office, and with the same people, can often lead to boredom.
  • Physical
    We can experience this type of rut when we workout and eat right and still do not get the physical results that we desire.
  • Financial
    When we work hard but do not see our financial situation improve we can feel like we are on a merry-go-round.

Press “Reset”

As a kid I use to love to play my Nintendo game system for hours a day. Occasionally, the game would have a glitch and freeze. It was very frustrating because the glitch seemed to happen at the worst possible time – like right before I was about to advance to a new level. Or sometimes it would occur during a battle that I was winning.

I would usually hope that the game would somehow fix itself. I would press every button on the controller and even bang the side of the game console hoping this would fix the problem. But ultimately, I knew that there was only one way to fix the problem and it was the one option I didn’t want to do-press the “reset” button. I can remember feeling angry and discouraged about pressing the reset button because I didn’t want to start the game over from the beginning.

When we are stuck in a rut, it is sometimes beneficial to revisit the beginning of our journey. Revisit some of your goals and see if they are still relevant in your life. Perhaps you have a goal that you have been working towards but now, that goal is no longer as important as it once was.

If you keep a journal, go back and see what was written in your old journals. There may have been some lost passions or dreams that fire your heart that you have put on the shelf. Perhaps there is someone that used to give you joy but that person has slipped out of your life. Maybe it’s time to reconnect with that person. When the feeling of being stuck invades and resides in our everyday lives, it is time to press the reset button.

Answer the Hard Questions

At times, feeling like you are in a rut may be an indication that there needs to be a major change in your life. There may be some major questions about life, love, and purpose that need to be addressed.
Life’s tough questions usually have tough answers. Many people do not want to face these questions so they fill their time with projects, tasks, and other things that aren’t as important.

This is how many people fall into the trap of chasing superficial goals such as money or fame. Some people will spend years of their lives just to come to the realization that what they were chasing will not make them happy.

Answering the hard questions involves taking a good look at who you are and who you could be. It can be a soul searching experience. When I get into a rut, I take some time to reevaluate my priorities. Our daily life activities can keep us pretty busy. We also have responsibilities to family, friends, and employers that we must honor. All of this busyness can sometimes keep us from answering some questions that are imperative to our personal growth.

Some hard questions:
-Am I fulfilling my purpose?
-What do I believe and why do I believe it?
-What am I doing that is keeping me in this situation?
-What am I afraid will happen?
-What am I afraid won’t happen?
-Am I at the place in my life that I would like to be?

Being in a rut can be caused by something small such as doing the same repetitive tasks every day at work. Or the rut can be a sign that you are not happy with the direction your life has been going in. Asking yourself the tough questions can help decipher the difference.

Creating an Escape Plan

Being in a rut can feel like being sentenced to 20 years in prison. Although you know one day you will be free, that day seems very far away. During your slump or rut, one of the best things that can be done is to create a plan to prepare yourself for escape.

I was once in a financial rut that threatened to altar my entire way of living. It seemed as though the bills were flooding my mailbox daily and every few days I owed some company money. I felt helpless to do anything about it.

My only hope was to create a plan that would somehow enable me to manage my finances and begin to regain control. I took an entire day to make changes in my financial practices. I changed the billing cycle on all of my bills so that half of my bills would be paid on the 1st of each month and the other half on the 15th.

It was a simple change that allowed me to gain control. Instead of a new bills coming in every week, I dealt with all of my bills just two times a month. This bulking strategy worked so well, I have incorporated it into other parts of my life.

We must remember that even though we are in a tight spot, there is usually something that we can do to help the situation. The escape plan can help you look at your situation and organize a strategy to combat your rut. Once your escape plan is in place, it is time to take decisive action.

Taking Decisive Actions

Most of the ruts that way face are made worse by inactivity. But repeating the same actions does little to change our circumstances. It is important to take action towards getting out of the rut but it is even more important that the right steps are taken.

Have had a goal to lose a lot of weight? Most people who begin an exercise program to lose weight usually have no problem losing weight during the first few weeks. This is because body reacts well to the sudden change in diet and physical activity. But as the weeks go by, the progress tends to slow as the body gets accustomed to the new routine.

Professional Trainer Tony Horton suggest that to get better results, we should “shock the body” by changing the workout. Introducing new routines and exercises keeps your body from reaching a plateau of progress.

Taking new actions can be just what you need to get out of your rut. Perhaps the actions that you have been accustomed to have served their purpose and now it is time to change those actions to get better results. Here is a list of actions that may help lead you out of your rut.

Collect feedback: Are you really in a rut or does it just feel like it? Ask the people around what their perceptions are about your situation. Gaining a different perspective can help you see a clear path out of your rut.

Change in environment: Taking yourself out of your current environment can help you see things in a different light. It may be a temporary change such as a long weekend out of town or a permanent change that takes you to another country. Rearranging your home or workplace can also have a similar effect.

Change yourself: Begin to create new habits and routines. Looking at what you do every day and finding a new way to do it will create new results.

Try Something New: A new experience can help propel you out of your rut. Begin to think about new things you would like to experience.

Being stuck in a rut may be an indication that your life needs to be changed. Left unaddressed, a rut or a slump can lead to depression, anger, or resentment. Take control of your life and take action to reclaim the exciting and fulfilled life you deserve.

Ralph Jean-Paul is not only committed to his own personal development, but he is also committed to the personal development of everyone he comes in contact with. This desire to see growth in himself lead him to begin to mentor others. Ralph also found his purpose when he began to speak at universities, corporations, associations and other organizations. To learn more about Ralph, please visit

Ralph Jean-Paul is not only committed to his own personal development, but he is also committed to the personal development of everyone he comes in contact with. To learn more about Ralph, please visit

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  • Thanks so much for the comments everyone.

    @Randy-Thanks for taking the time to comment

    @ Scientific Living -are absolutely right! I think it takes a lot of courage to search for the answers to those questions.

    @Jocelyn-Starting over is hard but I agree 100% that it is better to risk.

    @Tristan-Thanks Tristan. I look back on it now and laugh but back then, getting past level 7 in “The Legend of Zelda” was all that mattered.