Stuck in a rut? Six tips to pull you out

Most of us periodically feel hemmed in, discouraged or frustrated by a situation or event. Or sometimes just generally ‘flat’ and ‘blah’. Here are six tips to freshen your outlook, put a sparkle in your eye and a spring in your step.

Tip 1: Make a new frame.
A technique called re-framing is a way of viewing a situation or event in a more positive light by considering it from a different perspective. For example, instead of seeing a mistake as a disaster, you can see it as a doorway to discovery. Instead of thinking of team members’ friendly banter and chatting as ‘goofing off’, think of it as a sign of good morale. Instead of viewing a disagreement as an argument, think of it as a building block of understanding or an opportunity to learn a different way of thinking.

Tip 2: Remember the mind-body link.
When your body language is glum, so is your attitude. To be motivated and energetic, you need to both look and act motivated and energetic. Stand tall, shoulders back, head up, and smile to get those endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, swishing around your body. Make a point of walking with a bounce in your step. Take a quick walk outdoors to re-charge your brain with oxygen.

Tip 3: Make a plan.
People in a rut tend to put their good habits and routines, those that help them achieve goals and feel satisfied, to one side. As a result, they waste a lot of time on ‘What should I do now?’ type questions. As Stephen Covey advised, ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ Set your goals, make a plan and stick to it.

Tip 4: Support yourself with positive self-talk.
The more you tell yourself you’re bored or fed up, the more lethargic you become. Positive self-talk works because the brain doesn’t distinguish between thoughts and reality — it just follows directions. That’s what Norman Vincent Peale meant when he said ‘Change your thoughts and change your world.’

Tip 5: Squash the worry bug.
Worry, dwelling on your misgivings and focusing on all the negatives — your doubt, your fears, your nerves — can paralyse you. When your ‘cup is half empty’ you find it a lot harder to ‘get a move on’ than when your ‘cup is half full’. Look on the bright side. Find the positives and dwell on them instead.

Tip 6: Remember that motivation comes from inside.
Waiting for someone or something to motivate you is like waiting for the sun to rise in the West. You are the only person who can reliably motivate yourself. You have two options: the fear option and the desire option. For most people, fear is a weak motivator; desire is a lot stronger. When you do things because you want to, you do them better and enjoy them more.

There you go — no more excuses!