Maybe it is the weather here in the Mid-Atlantic–days and days on end of gray and brown, cold and then colder temperatures and the seemingly endless parade of epic snowstorms we’ve been getting–but, lately, I’ve heard so many people around me talk despondently about feeling in a rut.
Ruts. When we’re in one we feel bored and have difficulty doing things with enthusiasm. Time gets frittered away and it is as though nothing has been accomplished. New ideas and adventures seem far away as the tedium of real life bears down on us. As best as I can come up with, it’s really a lack of mojo. Getting into a rut can make us anxious and uneasy because we suddenly feel disconnected–even from our selves. Heck, I was feeling like I was in my own rut recently after a feverish flurry of painting for a big show I did a couple months ago. Afterwards, I was kind of like… well, what next? Many times, a rut follows a big event where we have invested a great deal of time, energy and soul into making something happen. The letdown of it being over can really put us off our game.
But, of course, there are things we can do to make our way back to feeling energized, optimistic and enthusiastic. Let’s play a trick on our psyches and reclaim our mojo!
1. What IS WORKING for you right now? When we get overwhelmed by despondency or feeling like nothing is moving forward, we often forget the sometimes little but beautiful and important things in our lives that are working wonderfully. Taking time out to contemplate and notice what is really working in our lives—and taking an extra moment to feel authentic gratitude for those things—is a good way to feel less rutty. Can you come up with THREE THINGS that are totally working for you in this very moment? Even the small things count!
2. What if you could imagine that this lull, this rut, is exactly where you need to be now? What if this weren’t really a bad thing but, instead, a quiet space for you to reflect on what you’ve been doing lately and kind of “reboot” for the going forward? How about taking a breath, finding a moment to quiet the critic in your head and imagining the possibility that this space is just the normal rhythm of YOU and your life? You know the ebbs and flows of your life— what if you could feel like this was just the right moment for a lull? And, while you’re at it, remember that ebbs and flows need each other. Today’s ebb always leads to tomorrow’s flow.
3. Do something. Anything. I’ve found that, in my own life, my “ruts” trip me up until I really push myself to do something. It could be as simple as a lunch date with a new or haven’t seen in a long time friend that yields an inspiring conversation. It could be a day trip to a place I’ve wanted to go and haven’t for whatever reason; I take a camera and a notebook and use it as a place to prompt ideas for my work. It could also be a class—online classes work for me— on something I’ve always wanted to learn and that pushes me to get out of my comfort zone and expand my skills. A lot of times, it’s kicking my own butt out the door to take a run and not yielding to the voice that says, it’s too cold, it’s too late, I’m too tired, etc. and I am always hateful about it in the beginning and glad I did it once it’s done. What is something that you could push yourself to do or try right now that might jumpstart your imagination and your motivation?
So, while the sky may be grey and the dirty snow is piled up all around you and spring still seems light years away, see if you can shine a little sunshine down into that rut you’re sitting in. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t like a palm tree right about now.
TRY THIS WEEK: Get a little bit out of your rut.