5 ways to motivate yourself when you're feeling stuck in a rut

Business Insider US
Amy Morin.

  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
  • During the pandemic, it's been easy for some people to fall into a mundane, day-to-day routine that can leave them feeling stuck or unmotivated.
  • Morin says to these feelings of boredom can be reduced by incorporating new habits into your schedule that you can look forward to.
  • She recommends making a list of fun activities that you can do at home, like trying a new recipe or workout video, and setting new goals that you want to achieve.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A common reason people come to therapy is that they feel stuck. For some, feeling stuck is about boredom. Their daily habits have become mundane, and life seems so predictable it's become stale.

For others, it's a feeling of being stuck in a specific situation — like a job they hate or a relationship that leaves them unfulfilled.

When you find yourself feeling stuck, you have to take action. But in the midst of a rut, this often feels impossible.

Fortunately, the following strategies can help you get out of a rut no matter how stuck you feel.

1. Identify several escape routes

There are always many different solutions to a problem. Of course, not all of them are good solutions. But when you're first trying to look at how to get unstuck, brainstorm as many ideas as you can — even ones you think might be bad.

Create a long list of strategies that could help you escape your current situation. Include ideas that seem awful and ones that might seem impossible (at least for now). The goal is to create a long enough list that your brain will recognize you have plenty of options.

2. Change your routine

While routines can be good for developing good habits — like going to the gym every day — having too much structure in your life could cause you to feel robotic. You need to change things up a bit to get out of the rut.

Doing things differently helps your brain look at matters from a new angle. It might spark new ideas, fuel a passion, or give you more energy.

You don't necessarily need to make huge changes — smaller ones can be effective too. Instead of eating dinner right when you get home from work, go for a walk. Or sign up for a class that will help you learn something new.

3. Develop a challenge

Competition is a great way to add fuel to a dwindling fire. And you don't necessarily need to compete against anyone else. Instead, you can create a challenge that's just for you.

Your challenge could be related to a specific problem. If you're in a financial rut, you might challenge yourself to pay down $1,000 worth of debt in a month.

Or you could just create a challenge that gives you a goal to reach every day — like running a mile to see how fast you can do it. Running each day might give you something to look forward to, it could offer a sense of accomplishment, and it may spark new interests in other areas of your life.

4. Design experiments

You don't have to commit to making a change that is going to last forever. Instead, you can design short-term experiments.

See if they make your life better or worse. If your experiment makes things better, stick to it. If it makes things worse, do something else.

You might design a small experiment like testing whether wearing a different type of clothing makes you feel differently about yourself. If your wardrobe change boosts your confidence, stick with it. If it doesn't, do something different.

Or you could test a different social media strategy for your business one week. If it gets you positive results, keep it up. If not, try something different.

Make it a goal to have a new experiment every week — whether it's social, business, fitness, or financial — and you'll find ways to improve your life.

5. Switch up your social circle

The people you surround yourself with make a big difference in how you see yourself and the world around you. Switching up your social circle can be one of the fastest ways to get unstuck.

Look for ways to reconnect with people you've lost touch with, or find ways to meet new people. (This may be a good time to design an experiment if you aren't sure what to do.)

You also might have a few people in your circle that you want to subtract. If there are people dragging you down, limit your contact, or reduce their influence on your life. You might find this helps you feel a little less "stuck" too.

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