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How to Climb Out of a Rut

How to Climb Out of a Rut

Allison Ford | Divine Caroline

January 08, 2010

It can happen almost before you know it: You wake up at the same time every day, follow the same route to work, and perform the same job you’ve done for years. At the end of the day, you come home and make a meal you’ve made a million times before, watch your favorite television show, and go to bed at the same time you always do. There’s nothing like the feeling that you’re living out your own version of the movie Groundhog Day to make you realize that you’re in a world-class rut.

Being in a rut doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhappy—there’s a certain comfort in having a stable and predictable routine. But whether your rut is at work, in your relationship, or in your personal life, when your usual regimen starts to make you feel as if you’re sleepwalking through life, it might be time to snap back to attention.

Wallowing at Work
A work rut usually comes from feelings of complacency. Once you’re proficient at your job, it’s easy for that lack of constant challenges to turn into a lack of excitement in general. Even if you like your job and your coworkers, doing the same thing day in and day out can easily get boring and make you feel distracted or uninspired.

It may seem daunting, but one way to lift yourself quickly out of a rut is to talk to your boss about it. Most managers will welcome the opportunity to counsel and advise their employees, and there’s no need to wait until the annual review period. Explain that you’ve started to feel like your work is becoming routine, and your manager might be able to help you come up with ways to challenge yourself. You may be able to assist in a different department or take on new projects, or there may be other ways in which you can step out of your comfort zone and master a new, unfamiliar skill. Your manager can also tell you about steps you could take to improve your performance.

Another way to rekindle your enthusiasm for your job is to stay abreast of happenings in your industry. Follow trade publications, blogs, and Web sites for the latest news. By keeping up to date on the doings of the movers and shakers in your field, you just might find more motivation to excel in your own career. Some experts recommend trying to recapture professional excitement by treating your job like the first day of school—invest in a few new pieces of work clothing to eliminate the familiar feeling of your old, casual clothes, and pick up a few new supplies, such as desk accessories. Even “redecorating” your workspace with different pictures, a new plant, or some other personal mementos can be enough to help you reengage.

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