Most of us feel stuck in a rut at times. For me, the ruts can lead me directly to feelings of helplessness, sadness, irritability and sometimes even total resignation.
Is a rut really so bad?
Generally, no. A rut may be a normal, necessary time of stillness, quiet, even reflection that fuels our creativity, recharges our physical battery, and affords us the time + space to wrangle with dissonance in our life, our work and our ideas.
Instead, the kind of rut I’m talking about is the kind that lingers, that drains our body of health, that strains our relationships, and that stops us from pursuing our potential and living our purpose. Because I don’t think any of us are placed here to lay in bed and drown our sorrows in a potato chip bag or bottle of bourbon.
But geez, when you are in it, it can seem utterly impossible to get out of the rut. Am I right?
I’m on my way out of a rut this month and making a few subtle changes is having a notable impact. Here’s what I know for sure. Getting out a rut that detracts rather than a rut that restores is an act of personal leadership. For me, I lead myself out of ruts with two concrete strategies: shifting my mindset and engaging in some learning and personal development.
The social science research nerd in me knows that science tells us intentional or deliberate shifts in my thinking and doing some personal development can change the wiring in my mind and help guide me out of a rut. And get this..It’s not that my wiring (or your wiring) is broken or inadequate if we get stuck in some negative self-defeating spiral. It’s that over time, repeated exposure to certain thoughts and challenges begins to create a path that can only be overcome with intention and simple actions.
Blah blah blah. Everyone talks about Mindset
Yep. It’s talked about for a reason. Science and personal experience show us every day that the way you think does influence the way you feel and the way you act. With this in mind, it makes sense that changing from negative thoughts to positive thoughts can cause a shift in your overall mood and daily life.
So, while I’ve been in the rut, working with focus was hard. Parenting was hard. Listening and giving my sweetie attention was hard. I was tired, disengaged, and just felt ‘not right’ in my body or my thoughts.
After a few weeks of really ‘being’ with the feelings that feed the rut, I recommitted to positivity so that I could reconnect with other more desirable feelings of living and working with purpose, self-confidence, connection in my relationships, and improved physical health.
The ‘So What’ of Positive Thinking
When our thoughts are primarily affirming, research finds our body shows fewer signs of stress and the likelihood of illness and disease is decreased. That’s because our focus has shifted from primal emotions such as worry and fear to more intentional feelings of service, connection, and gratitude.
Yes, that shift in thinking can propel people to be more solution-focused and more likely to move past roadblocks, resulting in feelings of accomplishment. These accomplishments will naturally provide you with greater feelings of confidence and empowerment. People who feel strong in their abilities have the emotional energy to achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.
And it stands to reason that confident people will take more risks to pursue what they want than those who are primarily influenced by negativity. Plus, nothing draws others to you more than positivity, confidence, and a vibe of ease. And that enhanced sense of belongingness and connection adds further fuel to the fire.
And for me the shift in thinking really restores physical well-being by helping reduce muscle tension, irritability, emotional eating, and feelings of exhaustion that ride shotgun with my ruts.
Why Shifting Thoughts Alone is Rarely Enough
Those thought grooves that land us in a rut are deep. And easy to slip back into. The likelihood of riding that same rut is high unless it is accompanied with some personal development work. Life certainly teaches us time and time again, there are no “quick fixes” or short cuts to personal development. It is a deliberate, disciplined process achieved by reflection, introspection and self-awareness. And it does not simply happen in our heads. Sometimes movement in our body or movement in our cells helps create or sustain shifts in our thinking. And that’s when lasting change happens.
Personal development is big business that encompasses topics ranging from spirituality, eating/fitness/physical healing, learning, relationships, and money. And there are certainly nay-sayers who think of personal development is a bunch of rubbish or profit-making woo. But there’s a reason for the popularity of personal development.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, once a student of Abraham Maslow, used to remind us that people are hard-wired to want to fulfill their potential. Psychology research has told us that we humans have higher needs than just our physical/biological needs of shelter, food, and physical safety. Instead we are hard-wired to strive for love, for friendship, for dignity, for self-respect, for individuality, for self-fulfillment, and for purposeful expression.
We want to feel fulfilled by our lives through conscious living in which we pursue the needs we deem most important. Essentially, in order to be happy, we humans must have the ability to pursue more than just the bare minimum. Failure to do so can lead to depression, addiction, or feeling stuck or trapped. Yep, it is the culprit that leads us to drown in that bag of chips or that bottle of bourbon.
For me, there are lots of ways I go after personal development. Sometimes I learn and grow by listening to podcasts, through reading, walking in nature, journaling, meditation, taking a class or joining a group of some kind. What works for you may vary. What is most important is using personal development as a tool to focus your energies on a goal and allowing yourself the freedom to let go of a lot of unnecessary things.
So often, the ultimate goal for personal development is to gain skills and a better understanding of your life’s purpose and help set priorities to live and work in alignment with that purpose. Because when you’re lit up with a passion and by the way you live life, it leads to feelings of fulfillment, motivation, and empowerment and it allows you to focus energies on those interactions that you value and cherish.
Together, rewiring our thinking and learning can be powerful tools to carry us toward our truest potential and our greatest purpose.
3 Reasons To shift from a Rut to Focusing on Your Potential
and how to make it happen
Your human potential ALWAYS has a BIG purpose – It is in our nature to want to make a positive contribution to something bigger than ourselves. We want what we do to matter in some way that is meaningful to us. We MUST have purpose, or we begin looking for it somewhere else. In terms of your business, how about instead of trying to learn the newest funnel strategy or sales closing technique [which totally take the humanity out interactions], why not let your humanity infect your interactions with followers and clients? In other words be a real person. Not some Insta flatlay of the perfect business woman or expert. Imagine that. Human beings interacting with other human beings to meet the needs of a lot human beings. Your business philosophy doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that.
Your truest potential doesn’t recognize limits – When we get to operate in our “zone”, we are completely unstoppable. Everything becomes a possibility. That kind of dedication and focus can not be manufactured so ask yourself, what excites you about your business? Then…shush my lovely and listen to the thoughts that bubble up. Seriously consider whatever comes up. Want to work from exotic locations? Want to stop wearing makeup and work clothes and just be you? Want to spend more time on charitable efforts? Use these ideas to fuel your plans.
The pursuit of your potential is contagious – Regardless of the field you work in, on some level, we are all in the business of delivering transformation to our customers or clients. Period. There’s something about taking the freedom to explore and hunt down your own potential. Your pursuit of your own potential will resonate with some amazing human beings that spring to life in the pursuit of their potential. Can I get an Amen?!?
Every human being on this planet has something amazing to bring to the world. And we all have some very ugly bits as well. When we lead ourselves with compassion, we recognize our own amazing potential and help clear a space for it to thrive. And we choke out the fuel that feeds the ugly bits. That’s our responsibility to ourselves, our businesses, our followers, and the clients we serve. And I don’t think I need to point out that profit can come from fostering your truest potential.
Here’s my charge to you lovely…Celebrate and foster your truest potential. Run wild. Be profitable.