Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to Pull Myself Out of a Rut?

For the past several weeks I’ve been in a rut. I'm behind at work, despite working six Saturdays in a row. My reading pile isn't dwindling and I haven't been able to keep up with this blog. Plus, I am running out of ideas for my strength and email challenges. On a particularly low day, I emailed Marcy of (Don’t Be) Too Timid and Squeamish asking for advice. I’ve been reading Marcy's blog for a while and am impressed with how she continues to push herself out of her comfort zone as she takes on a series of challenges.

Here is our conversation:
Marcy I am working on a strength challenge - trying to become a stronger person in my fiftieth year and I’ve begun to feel stagnant. I’m buried in lousy weather (seriously this is the winter that will not end here in Wisconsin), preparing boring spreadsheets at work, cleaning, thinking about preparing my taxes and the tendonitis in my elbow that flared up before the holidays is still causing me grief.

When you are feeling down how do you keep pushing yourself forward with your challenges?
I find I do pretty well with short or medium-length goals, like if I have a 5K or other goal like that two months out or six months out. Then I make a plan and work toward it. Right now I am preparing for a "Fitathlon" that a friend convinced me to do, so that is keeping me motivated.

I am not as good at staying motivated for the long haul. I do walk each day, though. I wear a pedometer and always make sure I get at least 10,000 steps a day, so I like being sure that I will get at least a little exercise every day. I also like playing tennis, so that keeps me active for a lot of the year.

I really don't have any great tips for getting out of a rut. I think trying to set small goals until I create some good habits is what usually works for me. Maybe you could sign up for a fitness-related event and prepare for it with a group? I think some gyms set up classes along those lines.

What motivated you to become less timid and squeamish?
I have always been introverted, but I noticed that more and more I was turning down social opportunities and saying "no" to trying new things. I was stuck in a rut and wanted to find some way to motivate myself to do more things. I also wanted to do more writing and find an audience for my writing. I started the blog (Don’t Be) Too Timid and Squeamish. At first, I pushed myself to do more things, and I soon found that taking on new challenges became easier as my confidence grew. I tell more about it in this video log if you're interested: Why I Blog.

What makes you feel strong?
Mentally, I feel strong when I push myself to do something that I feel timid about. Physically, I find myself going back again and again to the good old push-up. I have done them on and off since completing a challenge to do 50 consecutive push-ups (it took me six months to work up to it!), but when I am doing them regularly, I feel strong.

What do you do or see others doing that detract from strength?
I am guilty of procrastination. I intend to do something and somehow months go by. I think that's why my "101 things in 1001 days" list has been so powerful for me. There is a deadline, so instead of a "someday" list or a bucket list, I feel motivated to do the things. My blog helps with that too because I am always looking for the next thing to write about.

I see others doing the same thing that I am often guilty of: having a goal, but not starting to work toward it, or starting and then abandoning it without giving it enough of a commitment.

Of the adventures you've written about on your blog, which one was your favorite and why?
My favorite adventure that I've written about on my blog was definitely traveling alone to Costa Rica. It was the time when I most clearly realized that I had grown and changed since I had started my blog. I never would have even aspired to taking a trip on my own before that. In fact, when I put "travel alone at least overnight" on my 101 Things list, I just pictured staying in a hotel one night in Boston or something like that.

Thank you Marcy, this has been a big help. My problem is I set a big goal, but have allowed myself to fall back into an old familiar pattern -mainly procrastination. I need to set a few small goals to help get back on track.  Since our conversation, I’ve decided to see a doctor about my elbow, I selected David Allen's book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity as my next read, I joined Carli Alice in her no sugar challenge -  no sugar accept fruit and stevia for my coffee for the next eleven weeks. I finished my taxes and have even managed to clean my desk at work. I am also putting together a handmade postcard celebrating something I've done outside of my comfort zone for Marcy's send me your postcard feature

How do you pull yourself out of a rut?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
How to Pull Yourself Out of a Slump
Penelope Trunk Gives Wakeup Call
Jane Pauley Gives "Practical Inspiration"


  1. I liked her answers. I think you nailed it at the end though with the small goals. When I set big goals, I usually have a path of smaller time specific goals to lead up to it. I think blogging helps us hold ourselves accountable. I know it sounds counterproductive given you are behind at work, but I think a "Me" day is in order, plan or just relax...usually gets me out of a rut.

  2. Savvy,

    Don't downplay the role of weather and the pressures of first quarter. The weather has sucked this year over much of the country, but you are in freakin' Wisconsin - where winter starts earlier and ends later than here in the south. SAD is real, and statistically you have a huge chance of having it.

    Add to that, that you are in accounting and the first quarter is obsessed with tax season, in addition to the normal work that has to be done ... and it would be surprising if you were NOT in a rut.

    My posting drops by half or more during January and February. I just wallow in tiredness and lack of interest. As soon as the weather starts to improve, so do i. And, you probably will too.

    About the elbow. BTDT. Be sure you are icing. It hurts like hell at first, but really, really does help. Also, do the wrist curls. (Heat, curls, ice.) It will really help. Good luck.

  3. {Melinda} I make goals (short-term and long-term) and keep moving forward, even if it's at a slower pace than I'd like. If I give in to the rut, then I have a really hard time getting moving again.

    Hope you find your way out of yours soon! Keep moving!

  4. Hi Savy, it is true. SAD is very real. Just look outside. Here in Cambridge, ON, it is very dismal and dreary. It's hard to get motivated when most days are grey. I am so looking forward to sunny days.

    Working all those Saturdays. Eeek! I like work too but holy cow you do need some me time.

    I have problems with my left elbow and wrist too. Stretching exercises do wonders.

    Chin up. Today is a new week and a fresh start.

    Bye for now, Darlene

  5. I love this interview!

    When I'm in a rut, I find that doing something active pulls me right out. I'll ride my bike for 5+ miles, grab a book and hop up on my eliptical for 30-45 minutes, or just go work out.

    When I finish that, I soak into a great tv program, movie, or book and continue relaxing, enjoying the ache in my muscles.

    After that process, new ideas come up, I feel more open to new things, and I'm happier.

    This works so well that my boyfriend will make sure that I have time to do it if he senses that I'm getting stressed!

  6. This winter does seem particularly long and it's effecting ALOT of people, including me.

    Joi, above, has a good idea of taking a 'ME' day. Can you get out of town for a day or two for a change of scenery and pace?

    Visiting from ShareFest!

  7. Thanks for the interview. Congratulations for the steps you’ve taken to get out of your rut! I am really looking forward to your postcard.

  8. I love how you reached out to a friend and asked for some advice. That is a great first step. I've certainly been in my fair share of ruts. I like the idea of breaking things into smaller steps and goals so I can at least have little wins. I find that journaling also helps me get out my thoughts and then focus. We have a lot going on in our lives though, so sometimes you just need to be patient and kind with yourself. Easier said than done of course. :) Found you through SITS.

  9. I love the title. I love the blog. Now I'm off to crawl out of my rut. One step at a time. Thanks.

  10. What a fun interview. I hope you found some inspiration. I did.

    You reminded me of a list I created many years ago. I asked several friends for some ideas of self-care or things they do that feed their souls. I've kept this list for a long time, but haven't looked at it in a while. I've been a bit stuck. Thanks for the reminder. I think I'm going to dig it out and blog about it this week.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  11. I have found myself in a similar rut recently and I think reaching out to a friends is exactly what the doctor ordered. Self talk is important too...just believing that it well turn around opens your mind to opportunities when they arise. Have faith and be confident :)
    I wow about something similar in my blog this week. I hope you have a second to check it out happy sharefest

  12. Joi,
    I had a day this week that I thought was very productive - even worked late to finish. I went in the next day and realized almost everything I had done was wrong. I realized I've been working too hard and told my boss so. His only response was you aren't getting any sympathy from me. He has been working twice as hard as me. Which gets me to my point - I do need a "me" day and no one is going to do it for me. I have to take responsibility for my own mental health and well-being. Thanks for the advice.

  13. Webb,
    I am sure you are correct; we were in the middle of a snow storm the day I emailed Marcy. Fortunately, I do sit near a window and can enjoy sunny days like today. My mood is noticeably improved.

    I still have depressed days and am working on pulling myself out. I tend to feel overwhelmed when I am behind.

    I visited an orthopedic today about my elbow (on my Dr's recommendation). I have chronic tendonitis. He gave me a splint and is sending me to physical therapy. I sure hope it helps gardening season is quickly approaching.

  14. Mothering From Scratch,
    Great advice - Keep moving.

  15. Darlene,
    A new week and a fresh start. Love that.

  16. Kimberly,
    Yes, being active always helps me too. That is why I hate being snowed in so much.

  17. Famiy Balance Sheet,
    Even March seems long. Looking forward to a nice day today. I am planning on taking a few days off in a month. It will be much needed.

  18. Marcy,
    Thank-you for agreeing to be interviewed and all your great advice. I'm mailing your card tomorrow.

  19. Kerry,
    I heard about a book called, "The Book of Questions" by Gregory Stock. It is supposed to help with journaling - something I haven't been able to stay with lately. Perhaps it will help - small steps towards finding myself.

  20. Sheila,
    Thank you for the lovely comment. I just stopped by your website.
    Working in your small greenhouse is guaranteed to be a rut buster.

  21. Robin,
    I've talked to so many people that have been in a rut this year both in the blogosphere and in real life. I love your follow-up post - Practicing Self Care: You've compiled an amazing list of ideas for "me" time. I highly recommend everyone go check it out.

  22. Heather,
    So true and why I've been absent from the blog. I took some time to spend with family and friends. Plus, I started physical therapy on my elbow. I hate taking time away, but sometimes real-life priorities take precedence.

  23. I find short term goals work best. When I get off track I like to go for a walk to clear my head and start back in again. I love Joi's idea of a me day too.