Stuck in a Rut?

Last weekend I was out at Lake Sammamish State Park to watch the start of the MFG cyclocross season. I lived near this amazing park for decades and have vivid memories of hanging out here to bike, picnic, swim, walk our dogs, and just have fun playing with our sons.  I realized I was stuck in a bit of a rut and needed to make a plan to get back out and do more biking in this great park.

Most people go through periods where they feel like they might be stuck in a rut. You’re doing the same old things and what used to excite you may start to feel less interesting. Instead of moving forward toward your goals, you’re just digging yourself deeper and deeper into the same spot.

Sometimes these feelings may be more than just being stuck in a rut. Such feelings may actually be symptoms of something called persistent depressive disorder (PDD). This mild but chronic condition characterized by low mood, decreased energy, loss of interest, and loss of pleasure is less severe than depression, but can often be longer-lasting. If you suspect that you may be experiencing PDD, talk to your physician or therapist about what you have been feeling.

Once you identify what it is you are feeling, then you can start looking for steps you can take to get unstuck

Here are a few ways to get out of a rut:

Take Care of Yourself

How well you’ve been taking care of you? Healthy food, adequate sleep, daily exercise, and social support are all essential components of physical and emotional health. Look for ways to treat yourself a little better. Taking care of yourself helps ensure that you have the energy you need to stay focused and excited about your life.

Change Your Routines
Are you following the same routines each day.  People tend to be creatures of habit, and sometimes that feeling of being stuck in a rut can stem from a sense of boredom. Look for ways that you can change things up and add some different experiences to each day.
  • Strike up a conversation. Expand your social connections and learn interesting things about the people around you.
  • Have some fun. Set aside time during the week where you can focus your energy on having a good time.
  • Try something new. Explore the world around you in new and different ways to add some zest to your life.
  • Be spontaneous. Try to live in the moment. Say yes to new experiences and don’t be afraid to do the unexpected.
Try Heading Outdoors
Researchers have found evidence that being in nature can have a positive impact on the brain. Studies have shown that taking a walk in nature were associated with decreased depression, lowered stress, and increased mental well-being. Go out for a walk and allow yourself to relax, think of new things, and enjoy the beauty you see. If nothing else, it is a great way to get some exercise and return to your everyday life with a renewed sense of wonder.
Find Your Purpose
It can be easy to fall into a rut when you feel you are not really working toward anything. Having things to look forward to and a sense of purpose are key ingredients for motivation. This can small things like having plans for Friday night to look forward to and also involve much larger life goals related to your relationships and career.
  • Make plans. There is a great deal of power in anticipation. Give yourself things to look forward to and get excited about.
  • Don’t overlook the little things. Even small daily and weekly rewards such as being able to go to your favorite place for lunch or tuning into your favorite TV show once a week are great ways to build a sense of anticipation.
  • Volunteer to serve others. Having a sense of purpose can also come from helping others.  Such activities can help give you a sense of greater purpose and meaning.
Work On Boosting Your Motivation
Some things you can do to actively get yourself motivated:
  • Take small steps. Pick something that you think you might like to pursue, such as a new hobby or workout program. Start small with something that you know you can accomplish.  Don’t wait for motivation to inspire you. Just get going!
  • Reward yourself. positive reinforcement can be helpful in the early stages when you are really struggling to find the motivation. Reward yourself after completing each step. Then, pull back on the rewards, but promise yourself a larger reward once you have finally reached your goals. These rewards can get you started and help you stay interested.  (taken from


Hanging at the park with the mallards!


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