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Get Unstuck From Your Rut

A lot of us are in that stage in our lives where we feel like this car; just stuck.

Image via http://carhumor.net/stuck-suv/
Image via http://carhumor.net/stuck-suv/

Everything has become routinized. Today probably looks the same like yesterday, except for what we’ll have for dinner – and sometimes, even that is the same. You can call it, “The Plateau.” If you’re really frustrated with where you are right now, it’s turned into your Quarter-life Crisis. So how do you deal with this stage? You’re looking for a change but don’t want to completely overhaul your life?

Ask yourself, “Are you growing?”

Frustration builds up from a lack of personal growth. For people who’ve been in the academic system for 16+ years of our lives, we’ve become used to going up a step every year, yet in the Real World, these steps are quantified in number of years, change of title and addition of tasks that might not add much to your technical knowledge. It’s even worse if you don’t know what progress even looks like, and in an office environment that could be the result of not having proper mentors around you. To compensate for their lack of growth, this is the point where a lot of people go back for their MBA’s and their Master’s, which isn’t always a bad option, except when it’s a really bad option.

How do you know if getting a Master’s is a bad choice?

First, you need to know the intention behind getting your Master’s. Don’t get into it because you don’t know what else to do with your life. As mentioned in the Quarter-Life Breakthrough, a lot of people who regretted their Master’s degrees (and the debt accumulated from that) fell under this category. If you want to gain a specific skill set, or advance your career and the only way to do it is with an extra degree, then go ahead and do it. If you want to change directions or specialize then getting a Master’s in that specific topic is the way to go.

Don’t put up a fake front – especially with your close family and friends.

Socially, we’re trained to keep up appearances. However in reality, just because your life looks good on paper doesn’t mean that you’re feeling right about it. Unfortunately, society judges you based on how your life looks on paper and doesn’t really care about your feelings; it tells you to stuff your feelings inside and suck it up. And that disparity between your inner and outer self is a huge source of misery for some. To deal with that, honestly talk to your inner circle about being stuck in the rut. When you open up you’ll discover that you’re not alone, and they might give you ideas on how to get unstuck. They might also have connections or know of opportunities that could help you get unstuck. I emphasize on “inner circle” because they’re the people who care about you, those you trust. Don’t include everybody in your life-evaluating process, because a lot of people would just be happy with your misery. One more thing, this does not give you license to be a positivity vampire and drain the positive energy of your friends by whining and complaining every time you meet. How do you know if you’re a perpetual whiner? If you continue whining without doing anything to change your situation and make things better. Plus, your inner circle might stop picking up the phone when you call.

Fight Your Default State

Einstein says that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. All the choices you make by default have got you where you are right now…stuck in a rut. Introduce small changes in your life to consciously fight your default state. For example, if your default state is to vegetate in front of TV every night, go out and socialize. If your default socializing event is to have coffee with your friends, try going to the gym together. Take a different route to work. Walk to the restaurant you usually order take out from and eat there. Instead of staying in during the weekend, join a Meetup group for something in your field of interest. The trick is to do something different, and see where that leads you.  A main thing to remember here is that action is important. Don’t think of doing something different, and overthink and over-analyze, because if you’re prone to Analysis Paralysis you’ll rationalize yourself out of it.

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Published inCareer