12 Things to Do When You Hit a Rut
Can’t find inspiration? Don’t worry. Everyone hits a rut from time to time.
Be it your career drive, creative projects, or a weight loss plan, sometimes—unfortunately—when you lose your mojo, you just lose it! Before you throw in the towel, read on. What you have to understand is that inspiration has to be actively sought after, like a work out routine for the soul. Inspiration is everywhere and is ripe for the taking, you just have to know where to look. Get back on track and take the reins by taking the following steps.
1. Slap yourself straight.
Or simply breathe and focus. Many people tend to get distracted from the task at hand and later wonder why they’re so off track and lost. It pays to get some focus first. Find inspiration in the end result—play your desired outcome in your head over and over. After all, you can’t plot out how to get somewhere without knowing where you’re going.
2. Stop and smell the flowers.
Sulking gets you nowhere. Inspiration is hard to find for people with the wrong attitude. Positive psychology proves that a grateful attitude brings about a happier well-being that could lead to more productive and inspired work. There is always something to be grateful for—an opportunity, a second chance, or simply the capability to do what you’re doing. Every time you hit the gutter, look at the bright side of life: get a post-it and write down what you’re grateful for so you are constantly reminded that life isn’t that bad and there are more awesome things coming your way.
3. Go on sensory overload.
Leave your box. You don’t have to travel to a distant land. Leave your house and run to a place related to your project that will stimulate your senses. It is proven that the more senses are stimulated simultaneously, the higher our brain’s retention of information and emotion is. Consciously bathe in the moment and environment of an art museum, a café, or a busy street. Inspiration is sparked by your awareness to your body’s response in different situations and atmospheres, so have a sense of “I am here” and you will find yourself hyped to get back to that project.
4. Feed that noggin.
Knowledge is power. Reading books more often aids in keeping an inspired mind and spirit. Analyzing the words on a page translates to interest-inspired information. In the same way that a math enthusiast looks at an already constructed building and sees its architectural precision, a historian, on the other hand, builds a story of by whom and why it was built. Books allow you to not only learn more about your craft, they inspire ideas from expert and experienced people who have been there and done what you’re just about to do.
Here’s a great list of books to read to get you started: 20 Books Everyone Should Read Before Age 40
5. Grab a crossword.
Get a hold of yourself, scatterbrain! People who love problem solving have a can-conquer-the-world attitude, something that will help when you feel there’s just no more light at the end of that dark tunnel. They are able to overcome obstacles by keeping a calm mind and an organized train of thought. They are able to identify and define the problem, form a strategy, and collate information and resources to get past their roadblock. Learn how to love problem solving so you can keep on keeping on.
6. Insta-spire yourself.
Visualize and Materialize. Create an album of different forms of media that makes you feel good. The brain is very visual, so browse through the www and put your Instagram/YouTube/Facebook/Tumblr/Pinterest/other social media to good use by making it a source of inspiration rather than a tool for stalking. Collect and share things that make you happy, driven, and motivated—and stick to that album whenever you get a social media itch, instead of trying to find out what your high school classmate’s new boyfriend looks like. This way you are reminded of what needs to be finished and you are able to get away from jealousy and distraction.
7. Be of the same feather …
As the birds you want to be. So that saying doesn’t really go that way, but it should. Hang around people that you want to be more like. Be motivated, smart, cool, and strong-willed by affiliation. Surrounding yourself with people like this makes you want to catch up and allows you to adopt their traits and outlook in life. If you hang with the right people, the right qualities get rubbed off on you. Next time you blank out, phone that friend that seems to have their act together and breathe in his/her enthusiasm over a cup of coffee.
8. Cast away death eaters.
Shed light on your negative buddies. Sorry for the dorky Harry Potter reference, but negative people would really make any room feel like Azkaban, also known as the point of no return. When trying to finish a project, stay away from people who drag you down or it will kill your mood, or worse—your momentum. Apologize, be honest and direct but kind, get your work done—then come back later to help them out. After all, inspiration should be given as much as it is taken.
9. Stop being a loner.
Go meet new people. When concentration can no longer be achieved by buckling yourself to your home office, get up, get dressed, and get ready to mingle. Social isolation is scientifically proven to be dangerous to your health! This means that having a bigger network not only guarantees a more dynamic social life, it also guarantees better well-being and higher chances of not turning into a psycho. Besides, new people are always a great source of new stories, something that with a little bit of insight, makes for a good source of inspiration.
10. Channel your inner 5-year-old.
Do something for the first time. Adults seldom find novelty and amusement in anything anymore, which makes everything seem so routine and dead end. Get some adrenalin flowing through your body and revive inspiration in your life for doing something new and exhilarating. If you don’t have a cliff to bungee jump off next door, try an easier adventure—sing karaoke, dance in front of people, whip up and eat an exotic dish. Just the feeling of accomplishing a small but realistic new feat is enough to make you feel like a rock star.
11. Sleep it off.
Sometimes all you need is a nap. Sometimes, stuck is stuck and there’s no getting out of it. Step away from the computer and sneak a nap into your schedule. Napping increases your brain’s levels of serotonin, which improves your sensory perception and loosens up your brain activity. Waking up from a good nap makes you more open and receptive to insight and creativity—the recipe for inspiration.
12. Look in the mirror.
Be your own inspiration. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of bad news and a chain of unfortunate events. Find inspiration in your own story. Look back to the worst times of your life and understand that you rose above them somehow. Remember your greatest victories, and what hurdles you had to jump over to get them. At the end of the day, whatever rut you are in, you will be responsible for getting yourself out of it—your actions, your choices, you. So breathe. Pat yourself in the back. You’re looking for a hero to inspire you? I’m telling you, you don’t need to look too far.
Featured photo credit: Happy celebrating winning success woman at sunset or sunrise standing elated with arms raised up above her head in celebration of having reached mountain top summit goal during hiking travel trek.via Shutterstock
This post originally appeared on Lifehack.