Aug 072011

Expand Your Horizons.  Climb Out Of That Rut.

When was the last time that you did something completely out of character for you, so you could expand your horizons and climb out of the rut you’re in?

For many of us, the answer may be, “I don’t really recall.  It was quite a while ago”.  If that’s the case for you, I encourage you to do something completely out of character today (not tomorrow, TODAY).

It’s amazing how the daily grind of activities can cause us to get into a rut that just seems to get deeper and deeper with time.  If you think of a rut as something that’s created by car or truck tires on a softer surface, for example, it’s not so tough to figure out why you’d get “stuck in a rut”.  Over time, the tires passing over the same path, in the same tracks, cause the rut to get deeper and deeper, until at some point, the rut becomes so deep that the wheels sink in to the level of the axles and you quite literally are “stuck in a rut”.

Unless you like having the same routine day-in and day-out, you may decide you want to get out of the rut.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not for everyone – as you know, some people prefer the predictability of the rut and have no desire to exit.  For others, particularly the achievers among us, being in a rut quickly grows old.  Boredom sets in relatively fast for achievers, so it’s very important to “keep it fresh and interesting”.

So if you don’t want to get stuck in a rut, what should you do?  Well, if we continue with the vehicle metaphor, the first thing you should do is avoid following the same tracks all the time.  You should be very deliberate in looking for other roads and routes to where you want to arrive.  But wait a minute, do you know where you want to go?  Have you set goals that get you fired up and motivate you to keep putting out your best effort?   If not, that may be another part of the explanation of why you’re in a rut – you simply don’t know where you’re going and the path of least resistance, which most likely is the one you’re already on, is the easiest one to follow.  Until you figure out where you’re trying to go, it may be tough to get out of your rut.  You will remain on, as some like to say, “the road to nowhere”.

Once you do have some goals and a target “destination,” I advise you to mix up your routine on a daily basis, not just once in a while.  Keep your activities fun and fresh, so you don’t grow bored, quit and move on to some other activity that you’ll likely tire of just as quickly.  If your goals require you to undertake a lot of mental challenges, seek physical challenges to counterbalance the potential monotony.  If your goals are more physical challenge oriented, seek mental diversion and challenges to counterbalance the physical.

Even once you find you have good balance of physical and mental challenges, try to make sure you incorporate activities that push you to operate on both sides of your brain.  If what you spend most of your time doing is logical and analytical, look for activities that stretch you on the creative side of your brain.  Take up painting, a musical instrument, or whatever it may be that allows you refuge and stimulation on the right side of your brain.  If you are primarily creative, force yourself to partake in some analytical challenges and activities.  I know it will be tough in the beginning, but based on my own experience and that of my clients, I can tell you that you will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.  In fact, I think you will be shocked by how much better you feel to have escaped your rut and you may even be more surprised by a common collateral benefit of such diversification:  the strong positive impact it has on your dominant-brain-side activities.  That’s right; such diversification of activities will often make you even better at what you’re already good at!

Challenge yourself today.  If you can, do it right now.  Do something that’s completely out of character for you, especially something that makes you work the non-dominant side of your brain or that pushes you a bit physically.  Embrace the opportunity to climb out of that rut and explore new horizons!  Obviously, when you undertake any new activity, you’ll want to take it slowly in the beginning so you don’t hurt yourself, but you can build up gradually with time.  Go ahead.  Start right now if you can!

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

  • Wise words, Paul. I wish I could start now but… Why is it we always find a but? Well, anyway, I have to finish my planning. = P

  • Wise words, Paul. I wish I could start right now but… Why is it we always find a but? Anyway, I have to finish my planning for my Spanish lessons. : P

  • Thanks, Maria. As long as we start at some point … it doesn’t have to be this very minute. But the sooner the better. 🙂

  • Yeah, well. I wish it were this very minute. = )

  • Margaret (Peggy) Herrman

    You bet that might be why Orchid Ladies & Doc Peg live here? LOL you are so right about working all your capacities, even those below the surface. 🙂 Here’s to creativity 🙂

  • Cheers, Peggy … here’s to creativity. 🙂

  • Couldn’t agree with you more, this is a very nice post. The vehicle metaphor definitely works; I hope plenty of people read this and take it to heart.

    Glad I came across your blog via Twitter today.


  • I’m glad you came across my blog today via Twitter as well. 🙂 Thank you for your comments about this post. I too thought the vehicle tracks metaphor worked pretty well. Most of us have been in a rut at one point or another … some of us end up spending far too much time there. Thanks again for stopping by. I look forward to staying in touch. Paul