Have you ever found yourself in a rut; struggling to find joy or meaning in what you’re doing? I know I have. I have been teaching for 10 years, and every year, right about this time, I find myself struggling to find motivation and passion in what I do. COVID has changed a lot of that this year, as this has not been a normal year by any means, but I have still found times where I struggle finding passion and meaning. So what do we do when we get to that point? How can we reignite our passion and motivation? How can we get ourselves out of a rut?
I have found that my passion is reignited when I read. Reading a new book about what I do, or what I am passionate about, reminds me of why I do what I do and provides new ideas to implement in my own life. I have a personal goal of reading one new book a month. I sometimes cheat and reread a book that I have already read, but nonetheless, my mind is being stimulated. Reading reignites passion and stimulates our brain to think. If you find yourself stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find a way out, I strongly encourage you to pick up a book and read. Simulate your brain to think outside of the rut you’re in.
Another helpful tool I have found that gets me out of a rut is to journal or write. Writing a blog helps me think about topics, ideas, and personal struggles I am going through. By writing down my thoughts, I am able to work through the mental blocks that are keeping me in a rut. It also allows me a sense of mental freedom. Many times, my writing centers around what I am reading, or what I find to be keeping me from progressing forward. Putting our thoughts on paper helps us reflect on what we could change to make ourselves better and what areas might be stifling our progress.
Go outside. One of my most favorite things to do is get outdoors and enjoy nature. Nature has a way of clearing my mind, thoughts, and helps me recenter myself on what matters most. Whether I am out for a few hours or a few days, getting outdoors has gotten me out of many ruts in my life. Take some time and go on a walk, or find a way to get to the mountains and enjoy the view. Some might like the beach, so find time to get yourself to the place you feel free. But most of all, get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and let your mind relax.
Watch what you eat. I know this sounds weird, but I have found that what I eat has a direct impact on my mental state. If I eat too much greasy food or unhealthy food for multiple days in a row, my mind suffers. I have noticed a kind of cloud that just sits in my brain and keeps me from being productive. This leads to stagnation; ultimately putting me in a horrible rut. I have learned that the healthier the food choice, the healthier my mind will be. Believe it or not, there are studies that have shown that a healthy diet has a direct impact on cognitive abilities. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you never eat greasy food again, but rather limit how often you eat unhealthy food.
Finally, and most importantly, spend time with people you care about. One of the best ways, I have found, to get myself out of a rut is to just be with my family. My four children are amazing, and their smiles, creativity, sense of adventure, and all around awesomeness can pull anyone out of a rut. Another incredibly rewarding way of getting out of a rut is when I have the honor of going on a date with my amazing wife. Our time together, just her and I, is rewarding and refreshing. She challenges my thinking and ideas, we have wonderful conversations, and being able to plan and dream together opens my mind to new ideas and possibilities. So find time to be with people you care about. The payoff is so rewarding.
- Pick up a book and read. Recharging our mind by reading about subjects we are passionate about keeps us focused and moving forward.
- Journal. Take time and write down your thoughts, ideas, and even your struggles.
- Get outside. Go enjoy fresh air and let your mind relax.
- Watch what you eat. Healthy eating stimulates better cognition.
- Spend time with people you care about. Don’t sit on the couch. Don’t turn on the T.V.. Get together with people you care about and invest time with them.
Getting out of a rut is never easy, but if you don’t take the steps to get out of it, you will suffer and stifle your progress. If you have ways that you have found help get you out of a rut, please share them. I would love to know how others keep themselves motivated and focused.
As always, stay humble and serve well.