10 Tips for Getting Out of a Rut

We all get stuck in a rut at times and sometimes it can be difficult to know how to change your mood and get things moving again. This happened to me a while ago – we’d had a house move forced on us and although the new place was lovely, I lost a lot of time and energy through house hunting, decluttering, packing, cleaning, unpacking, arranging, notifying and everything else that goes with it. We moved away from friends and were feeling a bit lost. My kids both reached “big” birthdays and I was feeling somewhat redundant as a mum. My business has been chugging along nicely but another business venture wasn’t doing as well as I wanted it to and I’d had to cancel an exciting event because of a lack of sales. Basically life was beginning to feel a bit …


I wasn’t much enjoying my work OR my leisure time – but I didn’t know how to get out of the rut. So I turned to my Facebook friends and I turned to the lovely people I’ve met over the years via my newsletter, and told it straight. Explained how life was, how I was feeling – and asked for their advice. Not sympathy, or pity, but hardcore advice and practical suggestions that would get me back on track and feeling like life was fun again.

I was blown away by the response I got, especially when people went out of their way to offer me practical help. I’ve done loads of things over the last five weeks and while nothing significant has shifted in life yet, I’m starting to feel much happier, more optimistic, more enthusiastic and much more like there is something big and exciting and fulfilling and satisfying just round the corner!

So why am I writing about it here? Well, I’m sure I’m not the only person to get stuck in a rut now and then – so I thought it was only fair to share just some of the tips and advice I’ve been given to help anyone else needing help with getting out of a rut. So here goes …

Tips for Getting Out of a Rut

1. Journalling

Journalling is something I have done on and off all my life. As a teenager I kept a daily diary and in my twenties and thirties I wrote on the much missed Open Diary website. While my journalling has often focused on writing about physical stuff that happens (my book on ADHD was based on my diary entries), I’ve also used it to explore my emotions, dreams and challenges – and this is something I’ve been doing a lot more in the last few weeks, and it’s helped me immensely.

On a whim, I bought a copy of 40 Days and 40 Nights: Taking Time Out for Self-Discovery from Amazon and worked through this journalling journey, following the prompts and getting to know myself better. I’ve made a few startling revelations along the way, unpicked a few issues that were bothering me, and made plans for the future, all through putting my thoughts on paper. I’ve got into the habit of spending 20 minutes every morning journalling, and this has made a huge difference to me getting out of a rut, and I intend to carry on with it after the forty days has finished.

2. Personality Profiling

The lovely Rachel O’Kennedy, regional director for The Athena Network Swindon, offered to give me a free Talent Dynamics profile and talk me through the results, and this was brilliant in assuring me that I wasn’t going mad! I’d done one in the past but hadn’t really understood what my profile meant, but this time Rachel was on hand to explain what it was all about. Turns out I’m a Creator with high Tempo flow – which basically means I love coming up with ideas and creating new things but need lots of variety and new challenges, plus the tempo power means I want to help people and make a difference to their lives. Understanding that my inability to stick at one thing for a long time wasn’t a fault but simply part of my wonderful unique personality made a huge difference and started the shift in mindset that has ultimately led me out of the rut.

3. Start a new hobby


I started learning the guitar, and knitting. I’m not very good at either of them but feeling like I’m making progress and enjoying the experience of learning a new skill. Learning is for life – just because we leave school at 16 or 18 doesn’t mean we are ever too old to learn new things, and finding a hobby that you enjoy, that challenges you or that teaches you new skills is a great way of getting out of a rut.

4. Coaching


As a trained coach myself, I should have known that coaching would be a great tool to help me deal with some of the things that had put me in a rut. After all, coaching works on the premise that you have everything you need to be happy and successful in life; it’s just buried beneath the “stuff” that overwhelms us. I was honoured to be offered free coaching sessions with motivational therapist Nicola Menage and business coach Allan Smith. Both coaches had a very  different style of coaching and while I found it challenging and in some ways painful to confront some of the stuff that was going on, I came a way with a lot from both sessions – including knowing I need to overcome some limiting beliefs and with some fresh ideas about what I wanted from a career/job and how to start getting those things. One of the things Allan suggested was to come up with my ideal “job” (I’ve put it in quotes because of course it might not be a job in the conventional sense!) and write it down. The act of writing down exactly what I am looking for will open my mind to new possibilities and with any luck, exactly the right one will present itself. It’s an interesting exercise, one I’m still working on, and one that I’d recommend anyone tries.

5. Ask yourself questions


Of course coaching might not be for everyone, but knowing what to ask yourself can start a process of self-coaching (and I’d add that combining this self-questioning with journalling is very helpful). Stuart Black of BrainTrain UK sent me a series of questions to ask myself, and going through these and writing down the answers really helped me start to understand what it was that got me buzzing about life in the past, and how I could find that buzz again. The questions were:

  • What do you really love doing ?
  • Can you remember a time in your life that you did feel ‘whole’ ?
  • Have you felt this way before ?
  • Did anything work for you to move forward ?
  • Is it possible that you have just got bored of what you have been doing recently and it is time for something new?
  • …And this is a pattern in your life that you could just accept ?
 I think the final question was the one that really resonated with me … especially when I did the Talent Dynamics test and realised just what being a Creator meant! I need variety, I need challenge and when I don’t get it, I begin to wither. By introducing new things into my life I have started to thrive again – and I’ve stopped beating myself up about not being able to stick with things for long; it’s just part of who I am.

6. Take a personal development course


I mentioned earlier that learning is for life but as well as learning practical skills, it’s important to feed the mind and develop ourselves personally. A friend recommended I have a look at the Higher Awareness website, a subscription site with loads of resources from workbooks and videos to email programmes, all designed to help you get to know the real you, develop spiritual awareness, grow as a person and so on. I have started one of the free courses and am planning to sign up and take more once I’ve finished my journalling journey.

7. Look for a new job



I’ve been self-employed for eight years now and while I love many aspects of it – the variety, the autonomy, the freedom, my lovely clients – I’m beginning to feel a little jaded and tired through the constant challenge of finding paid work. Idly browsing through a job site, I spotted an opportunity that really appealed and decided to apply. I didn’t get the job, but the exercise of refreshing my CV and filling out the application, demonstrating how my experience as a self-employed person would perfectly fit the job spec, really motivated me as it showed me just how much I have achieved and learned and grown since leaving my last “proper “job” – and you know what – there’s an awful lot I can do now! If nothing else, at least I gained a better idea of exactly what I might be looking for in a career, which will help me, regardless of whether  I decide to continue as a freelancer or carry on job hunting.

8. Take care of yourself


Business coach Adrian Chase sent me a lovely long email about how getting stuck in a rut can come about as the result of our basic human needs and resources being out of balance, and this set me thinking about how well I look after myself. Having spent the last 20-plus years being a hands-on mum I’m now feeling a bit lost and redundant and wondering what my role in life is nowadays. His email reminded me to be gentle to myself, to treat myself in the same way I’d treat a friend or family member going through a rough time, rather than beating myself up and getting frustrated. As a result I’ve started making more time for myself during the day, I’ve started appreciating the world around me more, I’ve begun swimming regularly, I’m eating more healthily, I’m journalling daily and I’m generally treating myself with love. All this has improved my mindset which has made getting out of the rut a much easier and more enjoyable process.

9. Affirmations


Lynne Pomeroy (The Message Giver) suggested I start using daily affirmations to help me out of the rut. Things like:

Only good lies before me

Abundance comes into my life in surprising ways every day

I am fulfilled and contented with my life

I have to admit I haven’t tried this yet (though I do like the sound of the middle one!) but I can see how this would positively enhance your mindset. I also went to see Lynne in her Medium / Psychic / Intuitive Adviser capacity. Have to admit I’m cynical yet open about that kind of thing, and a lot of what Lynne said made sense to my present situation. There were also some quite exciting things she talked about, including having to make a decision between three options, so who knows what may happen in the future? For me, part of this was about opening  my mind to new opportunities, which is always a good way to be!

10. Throw a party!


Yes, I’m serious – throw a party! We had actually organised our party a while before my “stuck in a rut” announcement, to celebrate our new home and my daughter’s 21st birthday party, but the actual event was great fun and having so many friends there from different parts of my life, plus family members too, reminded me how much I’m loved, how many people I love and how much fun I can have when I put my mind to it! So if all the above fails, throw a party and I guarantee you will be in a better mood afterwards!

So five weeks on, what’s changed? Well I seem to have some enthusiasm back for my day job – I don’t dread sitting in front of the computer any more – and some fresh new ideas for the ADHD business. I also know that coaching is what I really want to do, and while there’s a huge overlap with what I’m already doing I’m developing a new website for that. I’m appreciating the good things in life and worrying less about the bad; I’ve acknowledged that while my role as a parent has changed, I’m still very much needed; I’m absolutely definite about where my next house move will be and I can see that it’s totally within my control to manage that; and I’m beginning to enjoy life again. I don’t think I’ve fully turned the corner yet, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel (think I’ll stop the cliches there!) and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring.

And it’s all thanks to the wonderful people mentioned above, and many more who sent me kind messages of love and appreciation, or who let me know that they were feeling the same way and it was perfectly normal to be like that once in a while. I think sometimes as business owners we feel we have to do everything for ourselves, that to ask for help or show that we are vulnerable is a sign of weakness. This proved to me that’s not the case at all – we all need a helping hand, a supportive smile or a friendly hug now and then, so don’t be afraid to be authentic and ask for help when you need it.

What have you done to get yourself out of a rut? Do leave your suggestions in the comments below!

 Head, questions, think positive images courtesy of Stuart Miles, newspaper courtesy of Gualberto107, heart courtesy of Ventrilock, all at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


  1. If I’m in a rut I give myself a ‘good talking to!’ but not in the way you would think.

    I give myself permission to have a day off..from work, worries, things that need to be do. I potter about and get into a nice relaxed state then I have a conversation with myself.

    ” Why am I feeling lost / stressed / unhappy “? Is it just an emotion cloud that will pass or do I need to start doing or seeing things differently? Is there something that I’m putting off doing that is holding me back? ( could be as simple as making an awkward phone call!)

    I’m on on the right path or do I need a change?

    I find this can be very enlightening!

    1. Thanks, that’s a really useful tip! I can totally see that removing yourself from the situation, giving yourself permission to detach and unwind and then talking to your subconscious about what’s going on could be very effective. Will add it to the toolbox for the next time I’m stuck in a rut!

  2. Thanks for publishing this email. What a fantastic result and array of different ways in which we can help ourselves. I love finding out about how other coaches and their systems work and it certainly seems to have started up something inside you to enable you to remove some resistance in your life. Oh and thanks for the mention – much appreciated:-)

    1. You’re very welcome! I came back to your email several times and seemed to take in something new every time I read it – eventually I realised that actually there were some quite basic needs not being fully met and if I wasn’t meeting those I didn’t have a hope of dealing with anything else! Really helped me to strip back to basics and start from there.

  3. Throughout my life I’ve been hunted by the “Black Dog” and found many little skills and habits to cope which also work well with being stuck in a rut. Few of these rarely work alone and I only use the ones I feel capable of at any given time:
    1. Rationalize using Transactional Analysis until I’m in the “right mind”.
    2. Help others that are worse off and/ or carry out random acts of kindness.
    3. Play uplifting and/ fun music; occasionally dancing (not a pretty sight) and singing along.
    4. Go for a walk in a nice area either connecting with the environment: nice flowers, scents, cloud formations, birds etc. or day dreaming about pleasant times.
    5. Read inspiring books.
    6.Let Go! Often easier said than done I personally use a couple of short affirmations and prayers to facilitate this.
    7. Use my sense of humour or someone else’s by looking up the “The Ultimate Dog Tease”, or “Puttin on the Ritz – Russia” flash mob, or silly cat sites, etc. on the internet.
    8. Writing.
    9. Writing lists – I feel more motivated already!
    10. Not easy as I’m very insular – but talking about what I wish to achieve with a supportive person, really gets me fired up about getting on and achieving my hopes and dreams.
    Whatever you may choose to do, my best wishes go out to you.

    1. David, thank you for commenting – there are some great tips on your list, and I KNEW there was a reason for all those cat videos!!!

  4. Hi Alison, I just got round to reading this – some great ideas here and glad my thoughts were helpful.

  5. I find I get bored with my life because I tend to do what works for me and chug along in that little rut (someone once said that a rut is a rut even if it’s lines with rose petals!) I know what I like, what I can afford and what I can cope with, and if I try something new I find that – yup – I don’t like it, I can’t afford it or I can’t cope with it, and go back to my rut thinking, ‘what on earth possessed me?’ It’s a bit like being on a hamster wheel right on the edge of a precipice. You just long to get off but you know that that would be a very bad idea!

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