I heard a phrase recently which I haven’t for some time, it’s one that we’ve all used or at least heard used. ‘Stuck in a rut.’
It means a feeling of being trapped, like you’ve been doing the same thing for too long and need to change, often it’s a job or relationship but it can be any type of life situation.
It’s the type of phrase that people usually use after being in that rut for a very long period of time, they say. ‘I’m stuck in a rut.’ When what they really mean is. ‘I’ve spent fifteen years in this job and need to change.’
When I heard it recently though, it really wasn’t a long period of time in the rut and it made me think that life is basically a number of ruts. It sounds depressing but it’s true. Our progression is rarely a smooth climb up the happiness path or massive leaps on the success tree, sometimes it can be but it’s rare. Some people might view the stages as steps, it makes a lot of sense, you take a step up and up and you climb higher. The only problem is a step is a temporary place and people don’t stay standing on a step.
It’s more accurate to see life as ruts, some higher than where you are and some lower, like steps, but the key thing is each one can easily become a rut if we let it.
Perhaps you want to be a brain surgeon, that is your nirvana. Well, first you must finish school and get into medical school. These are more like steps because at this point you can easily jump around and give up altogether, they are less like a rut because if you give up now there won’t be a path or rut to follow, you are more likely to go with the flow.
What about after medical school? You still have a long way to go to become that brain surgeon but now you are a Dr, a Dr who could be earning good money doing a job you enjoy, it’s now a rut. You could spend the rest of your life in that rut unless you jump into the next one. The next one could be a specialist Dr but no surgery, more money and kudos and a big old comfy rut to stay in.
Whatever the path we follow, the universe will put most of us into a rut which could sound a little depressing, nobody wants to be stuck in a rut. The key is to plan when to jump up a rut, what you need to do to make the jump or when to sit tight in the one you’re in. There’s also the chance that what looks like a rut will lead to happiness, many people have given up on dreams of travelling or super jobs to start a family. If having and spending time with children makes you happier than being financially successful then so what? Is a happy family really a rut?
I’ve been in ruts in my life and I’ve jumped around too, the key thing I have found is to recognise how each stage of life can easily become a rut if you let it. Once you can see this, you can decide if you want to get out and how.
So the next time you feel stuck in a rut, take a look at what you need to get out of it but remember the next stage could become a rut too.
© 2018 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.