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Are You Stuck in a Rut?

Updated on December 10, 2021
Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn Fields is a lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, and all-around bon vivant.

Stuck | Source

You Are Not Alone

Are you feeling “stuck” in your life? Does it feel like you are trapped, and can't get out? Do you get up every day, with hopes of improving yourself, or eliminating bad habits, only to find yourself backsliding before noon? And then when you realize this, do you feel even more depressed than before?

Well, welcome to the human condition! You are not alone! Most people (I would say everyone, but I don’t like absolutes) have experienced a feeling of being “stuck” at one or more times in their lives. Some people feel it most of the time.

Take heart! There are literally dozens of things you can do to change your situation. And dozens of articles written on this topic (just google it if you don’t believe me). Everyone, it seems, has something to offer on this topic.

The Universal Truth

The universal answer (that I’ve found anyway) seems to boil down to just this: do something different this time than you did last time. Does that sound overly simplistic to you? That’s part of the problem. People get frustrated with their personal and professional development, and seem to think that they need some elaborate plan or multi-step strategy to improve. And that’s just not true.

Really, the very best thing you can do is forgive yourself for not making better choices up to this point, acknowledge that what you are doing isn’t working, and try something new or different. And it doesn’t need to radically different, just different.

The truth is – your best bet is to pick one thing – and ONE THING ONLY – and do that differently. Don’t try to do it perfectly. Just do it. Striving for perfection is also part of the problem.

Also, don’t just “try” to do it. Take action. Jump in there, and get going. Then reward yourself for every action taken, whether it was successful or not. At least you’re moving again.

Once you have successfully changed one thing (and only then), add something more. And don’t think you need to heap more on your plate daily. Weekly, or even monthly, will do the trick. Slow and steady wins the race. Every – single – time.



Let’s take my overcrowded garage as an example. I was stuck for literally years, knowing that I really should do something about it. I had stuff in boxes that I had never opened since moving into the house, and would probably never look at again until the next move.

My solution was simple: Pick an arbitrary amount of time (55 minutes in my case), set a kitchen timer, and work on purging the garage until it rang. Repeat the next day. And the next. I also made it a point to start my 55 minutes before noon. Over time, I put together 20 boxes filled with books I would have never read or looked at again. Now they have been donated to an organization that will find them good homes.

Be careful not to listen to naysayers. When I told one person my plan, the reaction was, “That’s not very much time. You can’t get anything useful done in that amount of time. It’s too short.” If I had listened, those 20 boxes would still be in my garage.

Also, when I finished my 55 minutes for the day, I made sure I rewarded myself with a cup of coffee, and a few minutes off my feet. This, of course, made it more pleasurable, and reinforced my positive efforts.

If I missed a day, I didn’t beat myself up over it. I tried to do just a little more the next day, but that backfired. I found that I was more successful if I just gave myself a Mulligan (a pass) for the day, and started back on my routine the next day. Otherwise, if I accumulated the minutes, I would feel punished and might never resume my new habit.

Hope you found this tip useful. If you want more ideas on self-improvement, and overcoming procrastination, read my book!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Carolyn Fields


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