Stuck in a rut? Heres how to break free

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Identify whats holding you backand dont let fear of failure keep you from pursuing your dreams.

I was talking to a friend the other day and he was bemoaning the fact that he felt stuck in a rut in his life. When I asked him why he felt stuck, he said he really didn't know, but he thought his life was becoming mundane. He knew he needed to break out but didn't know how.

I think all of us have at one time or another felt like we were somewhere we didn't want to be. Remember the '70s song “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel? It became part of the soundtrack for Reservoir Dogs nearly 20 years later. Listen to the song, watch the movie and you will hear the desperation that comes along with being stuck in a deep rut.

You know me-that got me to reading. Recently I came across a blog by Amandah Blackwell published on the Huffington Post about 10 beliefs that will hold you back in life. Once again, I have learned things I can not only share but also apply to my own life.

How to get unstuck

The primary reason we stay in our ruts is fear-mostly fear of failure. So how do we avoid or at least overcome fear of failure? Here are a few strategies:

Don't expect perfection. We almost never get it right the first time.

Be prepared. Examine your skill sets. Get your arms around what you want. What you were trained to do may not be the same as what you enjoy doing.

Stop caring about what other people think. Just because another person would love to be in your position doesn't mean you have to stay.

Stop feeling like you have to please everyone. The only person you can really please is you.

Check your beliefs. Some beliefs can be very limiting-even toxic. These include believing you have to be everything to everyone or believing you have to be liked by everyone. Thinking you must stay in a career or job you don't like can hold you back as well.

Determine the real problem. Is the issue with your work (what you do)? Or is it your job (where you do it)?

Stop believing it's too late to pursue your dreams. Ten years from now you will be 10 years older, whether you're doing what you want or still stuck in a rut.

Believe you deserve happiness at every level

Believe in yourself and what you can do. Be confident and at the same time humble enough to admit when you need input. You may be asking yourself, “What do I do now?” Well, if you can't answer the “what,” ask yourself “who.” Who can you share with? Who can you talk to? Who can you ask for advice?

While there may not be an instruction manual or road map to guide you, there are many people who can tell you what worked for them. Watch videos, read books, attend seminars and network with other people on a journey of transition.

Notice I said “transition,” not “change.” Much of what traps us in a rut exists inside us. Sometimes when we address change from an internal perspective, the rut disappears-or at least gets smaller. Here are some ways to do this:

Take the wheel. Stop being a passenger in your own life. Take responsibility for your well-being and break the cycle of blame. Where you are today is solely the result of your choices and actions. Where you will be tomorrow is a result of things you do or don't do today. Your circumstances and your results are your responsibility. Yes, many external factors are beyond your control, but you can change how you feel about them.

Don't fear shortfalls. Let go of what might happen, or should happen or what others will think. You might in fact fail-but you might not. You are not your results.

Be grateful. Give thanks to whatever or whoever you give thanks to, but acknowledge your own role in your success.

Cut the world a break. Be yourself and allow others to be themselves. We are all here with the same things to experience and learn, and we are all perfect in our imperfection. Accept you as you and now as the only time you really have. Do you want to lead your life exactly as you are today every day for the rest of your life, or do you want to reach out and grab the brass ring?

In a 2014 graduation speech at the Marashi University of Management, the speaker stressed the need to focus on the present-the only time that really exists. He admonished new graduates and attendees not to make decisions based on fear disguised as practicality:

“‘Oh you can't do that! It isn't realistic! What if it doesn't work out?' This often keeps one in a rut professionally and personally,” he said. “You could fail at what you don't want to do, so why not risk failing at doing what you love?”

The speaker? Actor and comedian Jim Carey.

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