Most human beings are creatures of habit. We get up at the same time every day, have our coffee, got to work, come home, do dinner, housework, evening entertainment, bedtime, do it again the next day… Okay, so maybe I’m oversimplifying just a bit, but you get the idea!
I have written about change before in this blog and I’ll probably end up on the same soap box, but maybe they’re things we all need to hear more than once, anyway. The source of most of our ruts in life is usually something like an aversion to, or fear of, change. Most of us really long for change, but we keep on doing the same old thing and then wonder why nothing new happens.
The Easy Rut
Change can seem complicated. For example; we know that maybe our diet is not the greatest, but it so much easier to buy the same groceries and plan the same microwaveable menu each week, or make the same run to McDonald’s for lunch every day. Eating better means we have to maybe do a little research into new things to cook and better ingredients to buy. And who has time for THAT? I have Facebook games to maintain!
Try something new that seems like it would be a little difficult or inconvenient. Just for fun! Find an interesting recipe that involves extra ingredients and chopping up of assorted veggies. Make yourself something fun to take to lunch tomorrow instead of running out for fast food.
The Comfort Rut
We all have our comfort zones. They might also fall into sort of a sense of security rut. Someone might work every day in a job that doesn’t suit them or challenge them, but at least it’s safe, right? At least I get a paycheck every week? I am comfortable here in my cube. Going out and finding something new and different means leaving my comfort zone, having to learn a new job, meet new people. Scary!
Okay so you don’t have to run out and find a new job tomorrow, but you can expand your network a little. Find a group or a class that involves a special interest or something you have always wanted to do. Could be photography or painting or maybe even just a short class on negotiating skills or a sales technique you’ve always wanted to try. It gets you out there to meet new people and starts to expand your comfort zone a little bit.
The Relationship Rut
This probably also falls into the comfort zone rut, but how many people do you know that are desperately clinging to bad relationship? It doesn’t even have to be a marriage or a romantic relationship. I for one have been guilty of desperately clinging to friendships that were obviously broken and doing me no good mentally or emotionally. We wonder what we will do without that person in our lives, even if it’s the regular rut of being constantly hurt by them.
Take stock of your relationships. Nurture the ones that are good for you and step back from the ones that hurt you. No one person should have control over your sense of well-being or emotional health.
The Creativity Rut
This is also known as writer’s block or artist’s block. We don’t have a good idea for new art or the next great novel. So we hunker down inside our self-defeat and say well, if I can’t paint something GREAT, then I’m not going to paint at all! Or if I can’t finish this seven hundred page novel, then forget it, I’m not writing anything else! So there!
The desire to become the next Andy Warhol or James Patterson can be overwhelming. Don’t hold yourself to an ideal perfection. As one writing instructor I heard about put it, just “throw up” on the paper. Make bad art just because you can. Heck TRY to make bad art, it’s fun! Writer Ann Lamott says “write a shitty first draft”. Your first writing doesn’t have to be pretty, that alone is enough to stop most people in their tracks. That’s what editing and second, third or fourth drafts are for! Write something every day even if it’s just one big long whining rant about your boss and your kids and how the cat threw up in your shoe. Do it!
The Work Rut
Workaholics, we all know one, or maybe ARE one. Work becomes such an easy excuse for avoiding change, growth, and even creativity. We say I’m too tired and busy to go find something new and fun to do this weekend. We take on more work and responsibility and think of it as growth and improvement. But what are we leaving behind?
I’ll use myself as example here. I work from home. I worry about allowing myself to “slack” and not get work done, because that of course means I don’t get paid. Over the holidays business got REALLY slow and so of course when it picked up again I worked like a madwoman to make up for lost time. I had also taken on writing work as well as the work I do in the virtual art community. I wondered after a while why I felt like CRAP.
Oh hey, it’s because I’ve been in a work rut so deep I couldn’t see out of it! The nice weather recently really brought that message home to me, when I forced myself into going outside for an afternoon. Oh wow! I almost immediately felt better! It’s nice here outside this rut! The sun is shining, the birds are singing!
It’s the difference between the quantity of the hours worked and the quality. I had gotten so that I was tired and cranky and didn’t want to sit at my desk all day, I’d wander off and do laundry or wash dishes and then come back and stare blankly at my screen for a while. Four hours of work would fill eight hours of the day, so then I would end up working twelve hours to compensate. Once I actually remembered to just give myself breaks, go out and run errands or for a hike to get out of the house, read a book in the evening, the hours that I spent working became less tedious and more productive.
Change Your Course
I’m sure that there are more ruts I haven’t even thought of today, so think about your own ruts in life. You know what they are, and ultimately you are the only one that can get yourself out of them. Write them down and think about what you can do, just one little shift that will get you up and out of that rut and onto a fresher, brighter track. You might be surprised where this new road will lead you!