A quick Google search lists two definitions of a ‘rut’ - 1) a long deep track made by the repeated passage of the wheels of vehicles; and 2) a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change. For me, this year has turned out to be a Grand Canyon of a rut. Getting out of the Grand Canyon is quite a challenge. I’ve seen it once from above, but looking up from the bottom of the canyon is daunting.
So how do you escape a rut as deep as the Grand Canyon? I don’t know. But, I know how to try. Maybe you don’t get all the way out, but you at least shrink it to, say, the size of the valley of an east coast mountain? Preferably in the lower elevations of Virginia. You can hike out of those in a matter of hours. I've still got some ways to go, but I've definitely made some progress towards the top. Here are some of the ways I've been able to make progress.
Exercise for 30 minutes
Sounds simple, but when you still can’t see over the precipice, this is a difficult task to stick to. One method that’s working for me, is to put on my exercise clothes first thing in the morning. This works if you’re working from home and don’t need to have your ‘business casual’ attire on. When you are already in your workout clothes, it is that much easier to jump outside and go for a brisk walk or jog. Plus, while you are on your video conference calls, you can either say “I just got done working out.” or “I’m about to go workout.” That just sounds cool.
Rearrange your space
After working in the same spot at home for seven months, I switched it up and moved my desk into a different location. It’s a little quieter and feels more secluded where I can more easily focus and block out distractions. We’ve done this with my kids’ rooms, playrooms, etc. It’s a fun project for everyone to do, depending on your personality type. At least you get the chance to throw away some clutter, and afterwards you feel as if you are in a new place!
One thing is certain about this year, we’ve all spent a lot of time at home. That means picking up new hobbies or resurrecting old ones. For me, that meant dusting off my guitar and writing/playing music again. What would you find if you went digging around in your attic or your trunk (actually, don’t answer that)? Old art supplies? The camera you used for photography class in college? A sewing machine!? Dig it up, dust it off, and give it a whirl to see if you can reclaim some of your former glory.
Buy a ‘Dumbphone’
Remember when phones used to be those things you used in order to talk to people? Smartphones have become so “smart” that there is now a new kind of phone out there - Dumbphones. Take the Light Phone 2 for example. It boasts what it CAN’T do vs. what it CAN do. It has no email, no social media, no music/video, etc. In other words, it’s a PHONE that you use to call and text with friends/family. Nothing digs the rut trench deeper than the repetitive whisk of a thumb, over and over again. I know from experience! My thumb can scroll with the best of them.
It feels good to be weird...at least to me it does. Just the other night I was trying to do handstands in my daughter’s room before bedtime. Not as easy as it once was! I almost broke my back a couple of times, but everyone got a good laugh out of it. Be silly. Be weird. Be unpredictable. That will keep other people in your household on their toes, and may inspire a new connection with your family.
Ruts can be tough! And this year has been no exception. All tongue and cheek aside, they can also feel incredibly draining. With limited options for travel, fewer social interactions, and a more remote work environment - it’s easy to get stuck and feel like there is no way out. Just know, you are not alone. I’m constantly battling in the trenches of ruts, fighting to find a way out. But, soon enough, we will emerge, travelling again and experiencing what makes this world a beautiful place. First on my list is a trip to the Grand Canyon. This time, on my own terms.