When I sit down to blog there are times when it’s tough to even get a few words on the page. I will write a couple words, delete them, try again. A couple more, delete them, try again. I’ll get up and get a drink of water, change my surroundings, text my friends, scroll through the internet for inspiration — still nothing. The words on the page never seem quite right and the more I try the more frustrated I get.
If you’ve ever tried to write a blog, a term paper, or finish up a long term project and it was absolute torture, you get where I’m coming from.
You’ve been in a rut.
1. noun: rut plural noun: ruta habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.: “the administration was stuck in a rut and was losing its direction”. synonyms: boring routine, humdrum existence, routine job, same old round, groove, grind, daily grind, treadmill, dead end, assembly line
Writer’s block is such a small example of being stuck in a rut, but I bet you can recall the feeling now. You just want the next step to happen and at that moment you’re willing to do almost anything to make it happen. It almost hurts. But taking that next step can be so difficult. It’s like you’re Indiana Jones and you’re taking that leap of faith — will your feet find solid ground?
Sometimes, like Indiana, you find a way forward out of necessity.
The examples I gave all have a deadline – a project, a letter, a blog post, an event, these are all deadline driven activities. So while it’s difficult to be in a rut, there is a looming necessity to get it done.
But what happens when there is no deadline? What happens when you feel that visceral please, God, I want to move on feeling but there’s no due date? It’s just there and you have all the time in the world to figure it out.
It happens to me all the time.
I assumed this feeling was some by product of growing up. Waiting my turn. Figuring things out. The “deadlines” of life would come rolling at me and eventually my lifetime milestones would kick me out of whatever rut I was in. I’d rise to the occasion and get it done.
It works for a term paper, right?
Well, turns out it doesn’t. In my limited time on this Earth, I’ve realized life doesn’t have deadlines. The deadlines you may have made up in your mind (your first boyfriend, getting into college, moving, getting married, your first “real” job, your second “real” job, buying a house, having a baby, traveling to X number of countries, [enter your anxiety here]…) are not real. I am saying this because I was the person who puts arbitrary deadlines on almost everything. I had a perfectly planned out vision of what my 20s would look like. Since none of that went according to plan, I had some realizations.
The first realization is these “deadlines of life” will not kick you out of anything. They are not an exam or a paper you turn in. You can’t breathe a sigh of relief after. They may shake up the logistics of your life a little, but they won’t push you out of that What is next? Feeling.
The second realization is that being stuck is a product of self doubt. Realizing you’re doubting yourself is the hardest thing to do. Oftentimes people never get past this stage because they point to every other emotion, except self doubt, as the cause of their rut. I’ve certainly done it — I’ve said I’m too busy to look for a new job, I’m too tired to try and write my blog, I have anxiety about new things — all of these things can be true, but they’re really hiding the core emotion that’s holding me back.
The third realization is that you can move past that self doubt by discovering your priorities. Once you are truthful with yourself about your priorities in life, and in that moment, you can start to make a plan.
There are times I don’t want to be truthful with myself about my current priorities. It can be really tough to be honest with ourselves because then we have to make hard decisions that have consequences. Not that these consequences are bad, but they rock the boat. It’s easier to doubt yourself over and over again than realize your priorities matter and they should be taken seriously. So seriously that they actually shape the course of your life.
I try and remind myself of these realizations every time I start to get frustrated with life. It can be really difficult to identify you’re in a rut when you’re really in it. But I know that if I keep trusting myself, I’m honest about my priorities, and I demand that these priorities matter in my life, I’ll find a path forward.
It’s not perfect, not even close, but it’s the way that I empower myself to live my greatest potential and feel fulfilled in life.
I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.