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Sometimes it’s hard to notice when we’re stuck in a rut. You could go through the dull, numbing pain of everyday activities and not feel any desire to change anything. After all, as humans we have the amazing ability to adapt and cope with nearly any situation.
The downside though, is that we get used to things that make us unhappy. Ideas or places we used to resist eventually become the same things we cling onto, not out of need or want, but out of familiarity.
Here are some signs that you may be in a rut.
1. It’s hard for you to get worked up or excited about anything.
A study showed how people who are depressed perceive the world differently from others. When upbeat music was played, they were less likely to notice or become excited.
Being stuck in a rut is like living in muted world, where you see things in black and white rather than in vivid colors. Sometimes it’s not our surroundings, but our perception that changes what the world looks like.
2. You keep reminiscing about the past.
Everyone gets nostalgic from time to time. We like to think of pleasant, happy memories that evoke powerful emotions. But when those memories are used to substitute experiences in the present, it’s a sign that you’re stuck somewhere you don’t want to be.
While it’s tempting to look at the past through rose-tinted glasses, remember that there are good and bad memories, and a lot more in between the two. Don’t let the past stall you in the present.
3. Your health and well-being aren’t a priority.
When you just don’t care about anything, your inner thoughts get reflected on the outside as well. Maybe you stopped your daily exercise routine, you don’t care about your appearance, or you don’t bother eating healthily anymore.
Falling into a rut is a gradual, downward spiral that affects all aspects of your life. By neglecting your well-being, you neglect all other aspects of your life. If you haven’t been taking care of yourself lately, think about why that’s the case.
4. You daydream about an alternate reality.
Escaping from time to time is perfectly fine and can be a good thing. Whether it’s by watching a comedy show, listening to good music, or finally getting away on vacation, doing something different helps break up our routine and lets us explore. But it may be time for bigger changes when you constantly think about being somewhere else rather than where you are right now.
Be careful, though. Daydreaming too often can sabotage your long-term goals because it can act as a substitute for actually doing something to improve your situation. If you want to change your life, try to change your environment.
5. You don’t see the purpose of anything you do.
Money alone isn’t a very good motivator. In order to enjoy any form of work, there needs to a sense that what you do is rewarding or stimulating at least.
Ask yourself: are you growing or learning new skills in the work you do? If you’re starting to feel stagnant, it’s time to look for new roles or take on new learning opportunities. There aren’t many things out there more frustrating than spinning your wheels in one spot.
6. You find yourself feeling unwell on a regular basis.
I once knew someone who was constantly suffering from stomach problems for nearly a year due to stress at work. After quitting, her stomach problems went away, and she has felt much better since then.
Stress, unhappiness, or fatigue can cause us to feel physical pain, but we ignore them too often because we figure that illnesses can sort themselves out. If your energy levels keep going into deficit, then they won’t. Staying a bad situation can deteriorate your health until it’s too late.
7. You stay in a situation because you believe there’s nothing else out there.
It’s a poor excuse to get stuck somewhere because you don’t think there are any other alternatives. It becomes obvious when other people do it, yet we make all sorts of reasons for ourselves.
When it comes to job hunting, relationships, and opportunities in general, we can become so fixated on obtaining that one thing that we think nothing else will do. We forget about the other possibilities that are just as good, or better.
Lucky people open themselves to chance. When you pursue multiple opportunities, you’re less likely to be disappointed when one of them doesn’t work out.
If you’ve nodding along as you read, then you’ll want to see my post on What Escape from a North Korean Prison Camp Can Teach Us About Creating Change.