Today at a Glance
Here’s the situation that might sound familiar.
You’re driving full-speed in high gear personally and professionally — inspired and motivated.
Things feel easy and light. You jump out of bed when the alarm rings, nail your morning routine and embark with confidence towards winning your day. You’re in flow.
Then, suddenly, you aren’t.
You don’t know why, but your inspiration and motivation runs dry. Everything feels heavy and difficult. You snooze the alarm, skip your morning routine, and feel sluggish as you head into the day.
You’re stuck in a rut.
No worries. We’ve all been there. Especially if you’re an ambitious high-achiever who wants to lead a high-impact life. For us, it’s common to burn the candle at both ends.
Today, I’ll share our three-step strategy for getting yourself out of a rut and back on track.
The 3-Step Strategy to Get Out of a Rut (quickly)
Some months ago, I felt myself falling into a rut.
The first symptom was I felt physically and mentally drained. I slept in, didn’t want to go out to meet others, and didn’t want to do the daily morning exercise I normally love.
It felt like a short-term depression.
This didn’t happen the first time. So, fortunately, I’ve developed a useful strategy for managing these mood swings and working myself out of them.
I follow 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Stop Digging
Imagine being in a rut standing at the bottom of a hole with a shovel in your hand. We typically keep on digging ourselves deeper into that hole without realizing it.
Two common ways we dig ourselves deeper:
- Self-sabotage: It’s already hard being in a rut. What’s harder is how you talk to yourself in that moment. Criticizing your lack of motivation and discipline. All that negative self-talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy because you start to believe the things you tell yourself. What happens in your brain is, that you find more and more evidence to support those negative beliefs. And you dig yourself deeper and deeper into the hole.
- Exhaustion: Ambitious people assume that they can get out of a rut by doing more — often more of what got them there in the first place. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that rest is bad with sentences like “You can rest when you’re dead”. Trust us, we’ve been there too — lost productivity, wasted time, opportunity cost. We dig ourselves deeper because we avoid the rest we need.
The simple first step — stop digging.
- Upgrade Your Awareness: Learn mindfulness techniques to eliminate the negative self-talk and give yourself a break. By cultivating self-awareness you develop a deeper understanding of your thoughts and emotions. If you catch the negative self-talk happening, break free from those negative thought patterns.
- Rest Brain and Body: When you find yourself in a rut, press pause. You don’t need to get out there immediately. It’s ok. Gift yourself the time and space to rest & recover. You know, rest and recovery don’t just mean sleep (consider the seven types of rest here)
Once you’ve successfully stopped digging, I’ll give you a virtual high-five because you’ve made it through the most crucial part.
Step 2: Pull Out the Root
The next step to get out of a rut is to pull out the root.
You’ve dug yourself a pretty deep hole but you probably haven’t dug out the root that got (and kept) you there.
See, there are a variety of factors that may have contributed to you falling into a rut — most of them are outside of your control. In this step, we solely focus on those you CAN control.
The root normally has two major branches:
- Internal: To what extent am I complicit in creating conditions I don’t want? This question forces you to explore your internal landscape—asking whether there are any actions, mindsets, or patterns through which you are involuntarily contributing to the rut. What can you do to change these conditions?
- External: In what ways does your environment negatively impact this reality? Your personal ecosystem most often contributes to this rut. Perhaps all you need is a change of setting, or perhaps you need to get rid of certain things or individuals that are stealing your energy and feeding the vicious cycle.
As you pull out the root, focus on your identity: What would the ideal version of yourself think, feel, and do in this situation?
Step 3: Create Momentum
The literal final step to get out of a rut: Move!
If you wait to take action until you’re motivated, you may never start. Motivation comes from the Latin word “movere”, which means “to move”. “When in doubt, just move.” my surf instructor once said.
Movement → Momentum → Motivation
That’s not a linear process. It’s a loop.
And to start this loop, all you have to do is create a tiny bit of movement. Once you do that, you can lean back and enjoy the ride.
Our favorite method to create momentum: Minimum Viable Progress (hat tip to Sahil Bloom).
The Minimum Viable Progress states that you do only a fraction of what you used to do, as anything above zero compounds.
- If you’re trying to get back into your exercise habit, don’t worry about going to the gym for an hour or running 6 miles. Start with a 15-minute walk outside.
- If you’re trying to get back into your meditation practice, don’t worry about watching your thoughts for a full hour straight. Sit down for 5 min. and watch your breath.
- If you’re trying to get back into your workflow, don’t worry about pulling off a four-hour deep work session. Start with doing one task for 15 min.
It doesn’t have to be perfect or robust.
As Winston Churchill famously said, “Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.”
Taking that initial action builds momentum.
And you give yourself the chance to slowly break free from that rut and start making progress again.
Wrapping it up:
Kids don’t quit learning to walk when they fall. Instead, they get up and try it again.
Life can sometimes be hard.
Ruts can happen.
When you find yourself in one, slow down and allow yourself to take life easy and light. Then work through them.
Our 3-Step Strategy to work through them:
- Stop Digging
- Pull Out the Root
- Create Momentum
How are you getting out of a rut? What is your best strategy? Let us know.
Important Note: This piece is not meant to substitute professional mental health support. While my strategy will certainly be helpful, if you think the rut is caused by a clinical problem, seek guidance from a mental health professional (or, if you don’t have access to one, confide in a friend).
That’s it for today.
Hope you enjoyed it (and learned something new).
What’s going on in our world
First of all, we want to express our gratitude to all the wonderful people who are supporting us on our journey, enabling us to help even more.
We are also grateful for the opportunity to improve the lives of all those who cross our paths.
If you know us even a little, you are aware that our daily work and life are guided by our purpose of helping as many people as possible to achieve better fitness, health, and well-being.
It’s not always a walk in the park, and we often encounter folks who are completely stuck in a rut when they join us. But we’re truly fortunate to have the opportunity to help these individuals transform into the absolute best versions of themselves.
We believe a healthier world is built upon a community of thriving and vibrant individuals.
And you know we are not only talking about the body.
Since lots of people have been curious about our habits and what we do in our daily lives, we’re actually thinking about sharing more about ourselves on YouTube. We’ll be posting short videos and using the community tab to keep you in the loop.
So if you want to join us on this journey, make sure to subscribe to our channel! It’s gonna be awesome!
As always, stay fit, stay active, and enjoy your life.
Ketty & Markus