13 Ways to Break Out of a Rut

by Amy Steinberg Published May 8, 2018 Last updated May 8, 2018

We all get tired and overwhelmed at times; this can cause us to continue doing the work we must do, but with a lack of enthusiasm that makes each day seem the same. There are many ways to re-energize yourself after doing work the same way for too long, but here are a few that can remind you why it is worthwhile to innovate.

What lies ahead of us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen. – Henry David Thoreau

One way to make sure that you don’t stay stuck in a rut is to remember that your identity is tied to what you do. When you make sure that the things you hold dearest are reflected in your daily behaviors, you feel true to yourself and more excited about your tasks.

Much public thinking follows a rut. The same thing is true in science. People get stuck and don’t look in other directions. – Charles H. Townes

It’s valuable to be reminded that our work is stronger when it breaks the mold. It’s so easy to let science, technology, and other fields of innovation become habitual and connected to past ways of thinking. When you feel like your team has spent too much time looking at something one way, remember that the time it takes to try a new way of thinking may be worthwhile.

The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. – John Dewey

Ruts can be sneaky: what appears easy may simply be poor quality work. Protect yourself by comparing both the easy and hard methods of a task and think: which of these will yield the kind of work I can be proud of?

One needs to constantly read up, practice and work, irrespective of your profession. If I feel as an actor that I know everything, then how will I to grow? How will I improve? I’ll be stuck in a rut, and eventually I’ll grow complacent. – Sonam Kapoor

When we are stuck in ruts, we need to find profession-based inspiration. Reading a book by someone we admire, practicing a skill we’ve let slide, or trying a side project allow us to see our daily work differently.

It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are. – Roy Disney

Take time to write down your values. This may feel like a waste of time at first, but when you can tap into your values and remind yourself why you are doing the work you do, you can break out of ruts much easier.

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill

Too much hardship and too much ease are both dangerous. Try not to focus on success or failure so much that you fail to continue with the next steps in the process.

Life is like riding a bicycle – to keep your balance, you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein

When in doubt, work on something else. Getting in a rut can also turn into fully stalling on projects, so it is valuable to figure out some kind of task that you can do when you’re stuck. The very act of accomplishing a task often helps us see our way out of a tired routine.

Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. – Teddy Roosevelt

Don’t wait for perfect conditions. In most cases, the creativity needed to work with one’s limited resources is enough to recreate a fun and challenging environment.

Every year I try to grow as a player and not get stuck in a rut. I try to improve my game in every way possible. But that trait is not something I’ve worked on, it’s part of me. – Lionel Messi

If professional soccer players do it, you can too: don’t grow complacent when you receive positive feedback. Often the problems of success are as hard as failure: being known as someone who does even better after a success is a powerful truth.

Any time you’re stepping out on a limb as an artist, it’s scary, especially when you have a lot of success. When you’re reaching a lot of people, the masses, it’s easy to stay in that niche, you know? Especially when you’re making a lot of money and you know there’s a formula, it’s easy to stay in that rut. – Scott Weiland

When you’ve been successful, find somewhere to do something risky. Most of us can afford a little risk when we’ve had a lot of professional success and being known as someone who risks a little to achieve a lot can work in your favor. It also makes work fun and high-stakes again if you’ve grown accustomed to a certain routine.

Two final pieces of advice for those who are feeling trapped in a rut: remember that ruts are temporary, and sometimes a big change is what you are really looking for. If you are looking for a professional challenge that will move you out of a rut, consider what BioBridges can do for you.