The answer to this question can feel elusive when you are battling all the uncomfortable feelings that come with feeling stuck in a rut.
So to help you answer that question, here are a few things to consider:
1. Feeling stuck in a rut isn’t the problem. Doing nothing about it is the problem.
Midlife and beyond is a particularly common time for people to feel stuck in a rut as it can be a time of huge transition in life, work, and relationships, for many reasons.
But just because you are in rut doesn’t mean you have to stay there! Just make a decision that you are going to find a way to get out of your rut and onto a more fulfilling path. You don’t have to know how before you make that decision. You can work out how as you move forward. Making that decision will make you feel more empowered and in control of the situation. It will also shift you into being solution focussed, which opens the door to create change.
2. Take small steps
When you feel like you have a mountain to climb to get out of you rut, stop staring at the top of the mountain. It can be really demoralising. Instead just look a few steps ahead. Take some small steps to get some quick wins. It will help you to start moving forward and feeling like you are starting to make progress.
3. Review your habits
Often it is the habits that we have, that we do without thinking, that contribute to us staying stuck in rut. Look at what habits you have that contribute to the situation. Identify habits that would support you in getting out of your rut. Start looking for ways to take action to foster those new habits. Forming habits is one of the most powerful ways to create change that lasts.
4. Get clear on what you want to have happen.
It is great to be clear about what you don’t want about the rut you are in. What is even more powerful is to be clear on what specific outcome or result you want to achieve. The reason I stress being as specific as possible is this:
The more specific your vision/goals/desired outcomes are, the more specific you can make your action plan. The more specific your actions are the more specific your results will be. So get as specific as you can.
5. Stop the pity party.
I totally get that feeling stuck in a rut is a miserable place to be. I have navigated a fair few of my own over the years so I know how bad it feels. But wallowing in the rut you are in serves no useful purpose. Not only that, allowing yourself to have a pity party keeps you stuck longer. Put an end to the pity party and get into being solution focussed.
6. Stop beating yourself up. Be kind to yourself.
Maybe you have made mistakes or made bad decisions that have contributed to the rut you find yourself in. Maybe you wish you had made different choices years ago or done something about it much sooner. But cut yourself some slack. Beating yourself up over things you have or haven’t done serves no useful purpose and just makes you feel worse. Stop doing that. Instead, be kind to yourself. Put your time and effort into supporting yourself in getting out of the rut you are in, not beating yourself up for being in that position
7. Stop blaming. Take 100% responsibility for your situation.
Playing the blame game changes nothing. So whether you are blaming yourself, other people, the economy, the dog, or anything else, know that it is a waste of time and energy. Plus, you are disempowering yourself. On the flip side, when you take 100% responsibility for what is going on, you put yourself in the driving seat to create change – you empower yourself to create a new reality.
Feeling stuck in a rut at midlife and beyond can happen for all sorts of reasons. But you don’t have to just settle for the status quo. Choose change. Choose to become solution focussed. Choose to create a better reality.