Words By Tara Wagner

How to Get Out of a Rut Quickly & Get Motivated Instead

Woman laying in bed covering her face with white printed comforter

We’re going to talk about how to get out of a rut because everybody gets into them, not everybody knows how to get out of them.

Watch here or read below.

How to Get Out of a Rut Quickly & Get Motivated Instead Share on X

As the universe would have it, anytime I go to speak on a topic, it’s always like, here, let me just give you a little bit more experience with this first and make sure you really, really know what you’re talking about. I am making this on a tail end of a rut. I actually can fall into ruts very easily just because of autoimmune disorders and all wonky thyroid that likes to just cause me to crash randomly.

It’s not actually as random as I wish it was. I’m actually starting to discover that it’s pretty cyclical, on a pretty monthly basis, if you know what I mean.

But here’s the thing. It happens to everybody. There’s no shame in it. There’s no reason to add shame to it (that’s just adding insult to injury). It’s not very helpful. Instead, let’s just talk about what you can actually do when you find yourself in a rut or stuck in a funk and you just can’t get out of it.

girl on ouch with book, coffee, and blanket
Tip #1 – Massive Self-Care

The first tip to get out of a rut is massive self-care.

Because look, I realize that you want to just push yourself through this as quickly as possible, but if you’re ignoring legitimate human needs, it ain’t going to happen. You are going to continue to feel stuck because every single human behavior is an attempt to meet a need. Even right now, your binge watching Netflix or feeling funky is still an attempt to either express your needs or to meet your needs.

Here’s the thing though, when you ask yourself, “what am I really needing?“, don’t let yourself get tricked into thinking, “I really need to sit down and watch more Netflix.

That’s not a need. That’s a desire that we have, but what is that desire trying to meet for you?

More than likely for most people, there’s a lot of REST underneath it and so we get to look at: what’s the best way that we can fill our cups, that we can meet those self-care needs?

  • Do you need better sleep?
  • Do you need better food?
  • Do you need to ask for support?

What are the very best things you can do that are actually going to work? Because right now you might be trying to meet your needs by bingeing Netflix, but is it actually working for you?

In particular, I want you to look for Keystone Habits. Keystone Habits are kind of your foundational habits. They are the things that if you do these things, you get the furthest and other things get built upon them.

For me, this is always sleep, hydration and food. Those are my keystone habits and if I can at least start with those, I’m going to be able to get further faster.

Also, ladies, if it is hormonal for you as well, start tracking that to figure out when in your cycle it’s likely to start. Do some planning around that, but also do some planning before that. What can you do to be proactive, to be able to maybe minimize the effects of it as much as possible? And if this is you, if you find yourself losing momentum or motivation around your cycle, drop me a comment and let me know.

Tip #2 – Reconnect to Your why

The next tip is to reconnect to your why.

This is what creates motivation and momentum. Not even the who, definitely not the what, but the WHY.

  • Why is this important to me?
  • Why do I actually want to do these things?

And the thing that I recommend to my clients is to break out a journal, get a pen, write down those questions and journal it out. You can spend 10 minutes here, you can spend 30 minutes here. You could choose to just sit here for 3 hours. That is going to be one of the most motivating things you can do to help yourself get out of a rut quickly, is to just dive deeply into your why.

The more you tap into that why, the more you’re tapping into intrinsic motivation and building momentum.

Now, you might not have 3 hours to spend on it and it’s okay. Or maybe you do spend 3 hours and it just doesn’t get you anywhere. That’s normal too, but keep coming back to it. Just a really simple daily exercise of writing down for 10 minutes, “Why do I actually want to do this? Why is this actually important to me is going to help increase your motivation?” Because every time you answer that question, you’re going to be taking it a little bit deeper, getting further into that intrinsic motivation.

Now the rest of what I’m going to be talking about is really about building self-discipline.

It’s important to think of self-discipline like a muscle. If you have been in this rep for a long time, your muscle is pretty atrophied right now, right? But if you’ve only been here for a week or so, you’re going to be able to get out of it much more quickly.

A lot of times we want to snap our fingers and have momentum and motivation, but think of momentum like a train.

It takes time to build momentum.

You can think of this like if you want to have a snowball effect, we start with snowflakes, right?

They start to slowly compound over time. This is something that I teach in my upcoming breakthrough boss course much more in depth because it’s one of the biggest key factors as to why people can’t build momentum or motivation… because they’re expecting it to happen overnight or much more quickly than nature will allow.

If you have so much momentum and motivation going into your rut – there is momentum behind a rush, trust me – and if that’s where you’re at, it’s going to take a little bit more time to get back out of that. Yes, it may not feel like you’re getting out of the rut quickly, but trust me, it’s going to be a lot quicker than if you are not steadily focusing on building that snowball over time.

The more you tap into your "WHY", the more you're tapping into intrinsic motivation and building momentum. (Tara Wagner) Share on X
Tip #3 – Be Ruthless

Number three is to be ruthless.

I want you to be ruthless about cutting off what is keeping you stuck. If that’s Netflix, cutoff Netflix. I know that seems extreme, but I’ve done the same thing the beginning of this year. I was realizing that I was falling into a rut just because it’s so easy to binge watch Netflix. And so I cut it off. I just canceled it.

This has been one of the best years ever, by the way, and I highly recommend that if you have something like that in your life, be ruthless with yourself and cut it out because it’s not helping you. If there’s something that’s keeping you in that rut, why baby it? Why nurture it?

Cut off the thing that is hurting you.

Ask yourself, “what is helping me to stay in this rut and how can I be ruthless in setting up boundaries around this thing so that it no longer has the same potential to hold me back?”

I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be easy, but it is possible. And if you want to learn how to get out of a rut quickly, this is what you get to do.

As you’re cutting those things off though, I want you to remember that nature abhors a vacuum and so we need to make sure we’re adding in something to take its place. For instance, if you’re cutting out Netflix, what are you going to add into that space? What can you immerse yourself in that’s actually going to increase your inspiration, that’s going to encourage you, that’s going to motivate you.

For me personally, that’s a lot of Earl Nightingale videos. I don’t know what it is about that man’s voice, but he gets me going.

What is that for you? What can you add back in?

Because if you leave a big gaping space in your calendar or in your day, you’re just going to fall back into the same rut that you’ve been in, because that’s what we do. We fall into the easiest rut. It’s like water. We take the path of least resistance.

Speaking of the path of least resistance, this leads me to number four…

#4 – Make the easy road harder & the hard road easier

Tip number 4 is to make the easy road harder and the hard road easier.

This is talked about in a book called The Power Of Habit*, which I absolutely love. He talks about the things that we’re wanting to do as a path and if there’s any friction on that path, it just makes it so much easier to take the path of least resistance.

What we want to do is look at our easy path – and I don’t know why I’m picking on Netflix, but let’s just say binging Netflix is the easy path…

What can we do to make that path a little bit more difficult?

  • Can we unplug our television and all the cords so that it’s like we got to go through and figure out how everything goes back together before we can watch something?
  • Can you cancel Netflix? That’s like the easiest way to do it.
  • What else can you do to make that path harder so that you’re not so likely to fall back into your old habits?
  • And then what can you do to make the path you want to take, which is the hard path, a little bit easier?

One of the ways that we make the harder roads easier is with baby steps. We’re not going to get there overnight.

Again, it’s the whole momentum thing, right? It can take hours, days, weeks, sometimes to get out of this rut, but what can you do a little bit at a time because incremental steps are more sustainable than trying to make a giant leap all at once.

Let’s say for yourself, you know that the hard road that you really want to take is getting up early, doing self-care, and then getting into your work. What can you do to make that a little bit easier (but taking one small step at a time)?

I did a blog a few months ago on how to get up earlier. I recommend checking that out if getting up early is a challenge for you. But I also talk about building in routines, morning routines a little bit at a time. This is so important.

Sustainability is the most important thing. Jumping into something and then crashing back down is the worst thing we can do for ourselves because it’s creating a new habit. It’s creating a habit of starting and stopping, but it’s also creating a habit of belief in ourselves that we’re just not capable. It’s much more important to go for those small wins, those baby steps slowly build on them. If you crash back down a little bit. It’s okay, right? It’s not that big of a step down and then you can build a new habit and build a new habit and continue to go up.

As you’re doing this, as you’re making the easy road harder, do as much of that as you can all up front. But when you’re making the harder road easy, do a little bit of that at a time so that you can sustain it.

Tip #5 – Call in reinforcements

The next tip is to call in reinforcements.

This could be an accountability partner, your biz bestie, a coach, your mama (only if your mama is the right person for that job). But the truth is, we are not meant to do hard things alone. We are communal creatures. We need connection and support.

Even as introverts, we need connection and support. We need other people catching our blind spots. We need other people reminding us who we are or what we’re capable of when we forget. It’s so important to call in that support.

And if you’re ready for some high level reinforcements, I would tell you to grab my free Bottlenecks to Breakthroughs training. This is my exact belief breakthrough process, and it includes some exercises to help you start up leveling your mindset. It will also allow you to get on the waiting list for my Breakthrough Boss course.

That course will go in depth on these and other mindset strategies with the support of myself and others in the course. You can learn more here, or grab it by clicking the button below.

What about you, Boss Lady?

What are some tips or tricks you would like to share on how to get out of a rut?

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Tara Wagner

I’m Tara Wagner, creator of the Breakthrough Boss®. I help small biz owners overcome burnout and create part-time schedules with full-time profits. Not with some new marketing strategy, but with a holistic approach to how you operate. Click here to learn more.
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