3 Ways To Get Out Of A Rut

How do you get out of a rut? What does it even mean to be in a rut?

Someone (I believe it was Jim Rohn) once said “a rut is merely a grave with both ends knocked out.”how to get out of a rut

To me, a “rut” is a season of life where our thinking has become stale, tired, and boring. In the exciting, limited-time-only adventure we call life, there's no time to waste on “ruts”.

Here are 3 sure-fire ways to renew your thinking and get yourself out of a rut.

1. Change your focus. Part of being in a rut is the sensation that everything seems like the “same old thing” day after day. How do you overcome that? Find something different to focus on! Concrete examples that sound simple but are powerful tools of focus-change:

  • Read a book or magazine you have NEVER read before.
  • Do some activity you don't ever do: if you are a loner, this may mean going to a party. If you watch a lot of TV, it may mean reading a book instead. Just shake up your normal routine.
  • Have an “opposite day”. For one day, do everything differently. Eat different food, take a different route to work, drive if you normally walk, take the bus if you normally drive. Try to do everything differently than you normally would.

2. Master your thoughts. Forget trying to change your emotions. They are ephemeral. But you can control your thoughts, and your emotions are rooted in your thoughts. Whenever you notice yourself in an emotional rut, start tracing back what you were thinking about right before you started having those feelings. Invariably you will find the thoughts that started the emotional slide. When you have found the thoughts that are the culprit – think about something else! Often awareness of the source thought is enough to dispel any tired or troublesome emotions.

3. Alter your physiology. It's a proven fact – the way you use your body alters the way you perceive the world. To change your perceptions, change your physiology. That means alter your posture, breathing, or heart rate. How? eEre are some suggestions (merely thought starters – there are many more):

  • Go for a walk or run
  • Jump rope
  • Swim
  • Do a series of long, slow inhalations and exhalations
  • Dance
  • Ride a bike
  • Do pushups

While all of these suggestions may seem simple, their power to get you out of a rut is profound. Give them a try and see for yourself.

Question: What tricks have you used to break out of a rut?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

Grow Your Business

Grow Your Business

Proven teaching. Inspired approach. Free Course.

Click Here to Subscribe

  • MattVestrand

    All of us in this industry use our minds and are thinking ALL the time.
    If you use your mind to earn your income you need to use your hands to relax.  (I think Rick Warren or someone famous said that – I didn’t make it up).  I’ve found by just chilling out – relaxing – can help me get refocused later and out of my rut.
    Personally, I find gardening is a refreshing way to let my conscious mind rest while my subconscious works on my business issues.

    •  @MattVestrand That is certainly my wife’s answer – and a great explanation of why it works.

  • Something that can work ALL of your suggestions simultaneously, Ray, is music! This has been profound for me. Music changes my focus, changes my thoughts, AND makes me want to move.
    I do play drums, at least weekly, with my central and connected community churches. Advice: don’t just passively listen to music. Take up an instrument! 🙂

  • Hi Ray,
    Something that gets me out of rut is traveling to a foreign country and working with people in poverty.  The change in language, food, culture, transportation and security makes me appreciate my lifestyle and not take so much for granted.  Working with people in poverty, (which I find myself doing as I write this) awakens me to a need to breakout of the malaise of mediocrity in my own life to achieve a greater good by serving others.
    My advice take a trip and serve somebody to get out of a rut.
    I’m starting a business to change the world!
    Be God’s
    Robert Miller

  • Great thoughts, Ray! I know this is an older post, but it comes at just the right time for me. Often, I depend on the actions of others to get me out of a rut. I put my head down and keep working, waiting on recognition or encouragement. I’ve got to do better about encouraging and leading mySELF so I can continue to impact others– even when I’m in the middle of a big, ugly rut!