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Effective strategies for getting out of your rut

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Last Updated on by Noni May

A lot of people hit a time in their life where they get stuck in a rut. Despite all their efforts to break out of it, it can feel like they’re trapped in a hamster wheel, going nowhere and driving themselves deeper and deeper into the situation they want to escape. If you know you’ve got a lot of ideas, but breaking out of this funk feels impossible, here are some great strategies for getting out of your rut…

Make Friends with Regret

A potent sense of regret may feel like it’s holding you back from making any progress, but it’s been found that counterfactual thinking can actually help motivate you to be more proactive. This is the process of constructively assessing a situation, and figuring out how you should have acted in the situation that set off your sense of regret. This, in turn, can lead to a powerful resolve: “The next time X happens, I’ll do Y instead.” Some of us might become stuck in ruts from seeing the glass half-full and leaving it at that. Let’s say a job you were gunning for slips through your fingers. Instead of saying “at least I got the interview”, imagine a better alternative, and establish how you would or should have acted to seek a good solution.

Put your Comfort Zone Under the Microscope

In order to get yourself out of the rut you’re in, you first need to understand that you’re the main entity that’s keeping you in it. This is the central principle of NLP and similar self-help philosophies. You may be stuck in your comfort zone, a set of circumstances that feel familiar and safe due to some childhood experience. People who have grown up with loving and supportive environments rarely find their lives in a rut. Those who grew up with harmful, straining emotional environments, on the other hand, often develop a psychological comfort zone, which can feel good, but is still harmful to their self-improvement goals. Whatever negative situation you find yourself in, take some time to ask yourself if an aspect of the situation feels familiar. This will help you to understand where your knee-jerk responses are originating from, which is the first step towards getting yourself moving onwards and upwards.

Apply Mental Contrasting

Mental contrasting is a strategy that can help you stay motivated by the thought of a desired future, all the while helping you stay realistic about what you need to do in order to get around stumbling blocks. You probably spend a lot of time contemplating your ideal future already. Now, you need to develop a habit of following this up by thinking about the short-term factors that are holding you back from your goals. Simply dwelling on the obstacles in your way, or indulging in fantasies about what you want your life to be like, will do nothing but keep you stuck in the rut you’re experiencing. Learning to balance these two things effectively, on the other hand, will propel you into meaningful action.

 

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