How to avoid getting stuck in a rut


In case you are wondering about the pic I chose for this post, I only use photos I have taken myself – it keeps copyright and approved usage issues simple – but I was struggling for this one. It might be a bit unseasonal ( I am writing this in July) but that car was definitely STUCK!

  • Do you find you are doing the same things over and over again?
  • If you were keeping a diary and you looked back to this time last year how would what you are doing now be different?
  • Have you sometimes felt that you are just “going through the motions”?

It’s quite easy to get stuck in the same routine. It can just creep up on you and you only start to notice when you are bored or start saying things like “there must be more to life than this”. As you know we only get one shot at life – and we owe it to ourselves to do the best we can with it.

How we earn a living is a very important part of that. For some it is really difficult. For others it is a means to an end.

And – believe it or not –  some people even enjoy what they do!

It can often take a while to reach  that stage though and the people I know who love their job have taken a long and winding road to get to where they are now.  Moments of insight into what really got them excited or what gave life meaning led them to explore further and one of the simplest ways to avoid getting stuck is to expose yourself to other experiences.

I recall chatting to someone many years ago who said that their life only consisted of work and home until they were “forced” ( their word) to go on a trip to an art gallery. Instead of being a waste of time though, it opened their eyes  to something that they had never appreciated before. They now spent as much time as they could looking at the creative work of others, read about the great artists and planned holiday trips round visits to great galleries.

A colleague who seemed to always be at their desk – arriving early and leaving late – started to arrive later and leave earlier much to the confusion of their team mates. We had to ask what was going on. It coincided with them moving house and we discovered that they had discovered a passion for gardening and the  joy of watching something that they had planted grow and flourish.

In both of those cases the new recognition and understanding of  what really interested them led them to new careers.

For me it was when I went off on a leadership development programme.( at that time I was a manager in a tax department proving services to clients who were relocating their people internationally). The range of activities and exercises we undertook challenged me in ma
y ways but the process of being challenged that way opened my eyes to what might be possible. I started to notice when I got excited about work and this was usually around learning and helping others to learn. It led me to set up my business almost 10 years ago.

Sometimes though getting out of the rut might mean changing how you do your job – not changing the job itself. I am currently reading Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!) by George Lois who is described as “an advertising legend”. He has had a long and very successful career and writes with no false modesty. I was particularly interested in the section where he says he visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art every Sunday to draw on inspiration from what he sees there. Somewhere in your organisation or wider profession there might be great work, ideas or personalities that can give you the inspiration you need.

So – if you realise that you might be stuck in a rut  – what could you to do look  for inspiration elsewhere?

When working with clients as their coach we explore where their inspiration comes from – or might come from . It’s usually very interesting – and very productive! Get in touch if you would like to find out more.