Today’s guest post was written by my friend, Elizabeth Dixon. She’s an inspiring speaker and writer who focuses on overcoming challenges and living life to the fullest. You can find her at www.biteanelephant.com.
The worst rut that I have found in life was while I was on my mountain bike. Soon after this situation I realized that mountain biking was not the best sport for my long-term health.
A rut is a space where repeated passage has been made. Often you would think that this would be the most comfortable space to be. But in the event you want OUT of the rut it can be the most uncomfortable.
As I went down the Virginia trail on my bike, wanting out of the rut that had been created by many bikes before, I decided to make a hard left turn and get myself out of the rut while moving forward.
It all happened quickly, shoes unclipping from the pedals, body being propelled over the handlebars and head breezing past the surrounding trees.
I am not an expert mountain biker (obviously) but I learned a valuable life lesson in that situation: sometimes you need to stop and change your environment to get out of a rut.
When you look up the definition of a rut you get both the definition of “a long deep track made by repeated passage of wheels” as well as “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change”.
Have you found yourself in a habit rut?
Perhaps it is in your relationships, exercise, sleep, nutrition, emails, spiritual life, mental growth.
Regardless of the context, getting out of a rut, a deeply defined habit pattern is very hard.
Similar to what I found on my mountain bike that day, a more effective way of getting out of a rut requires us to
1. Stop. To Pause. I would venture to say that we do not “pause” well in our culture where “busy” is glorified. Stopping for a moment provides the opportunity to evaluate holistically the situation, to observe the upcoming realities. For me on my bike it was a tree, but a neglected relationship may have a divorce ahead, poor health habits may have disease or an early death ahead, or neglecting mental growth may have a limited career ahead. Stopping to pause throughout the day, week and then for a bit longer duration during the year allows us to assess our realities and then make the changes necessary to get to where we ultimately want to go.
2. Change our environment. When the rut is deep and the habits, while unhealthy, are comfortable, a change in environment is necessary for success. To say we are going to eat better but have the same icecream and mac & cheese in the kitchen is like trying to wash are car with muddy water. It would be similar with saying that we want to improve our relationships with our children, but not changing our schedule to make time for them. To desire career growth while making the same mistakes over and over. An environment change by purging the pantry, simplifying the schedule for relationship time and applying the lessons learned at work by posting a note on your computer that reminds you to double check what caused the repeated mistakes in the first place.
What would it look like for you to take a moment – to put on the breaks and hop of the bike – and assess your reality? To identify the changes needed in your environment to get out of the rut that is leading you where you don’t want to go.
Remember, ignorance is actually not bliss but simply a deep regret we will have in our future when we end up where we don’t want to be in life.
Let’s prevent the regrets and get out of the ruts by stopping more and changing our environment to support our success.
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