Ditch Your Rut For A Better Plan


Ruts! Are you in a rut?

Are doing life on auto pilot (coasting through life without much thought) or endlessly spinning your wheels (frantically working but not getting anywhere)? If so, that would suggest that you are stuck in a rut.

Ruts are familiar, and that familiarity has a way of making you oblivious to just how dangerous ruts are! Ruts obscure your full potential and prevent you from getting desired results.

Think of it This Way…

Mountain bikers are encouraged to avoid wet trails – it erodes the trail and takes a toll on your bike. A soggy trail has the potential to destroy your drivetrain, brake pads, shocks, fork, and seals – especially if you live where the soil is like clay!

Water naturally finds the path of least resistance and deepens the ruts created by riders on a trail. The deeper the ruts grow, the longer they take to dry out. Even when the bulk of the trail is dry, an unexpected low spot where water collects could grab your front tire and send you head over handlebars. Yikes!

Let me confess up front: I am not a mountain biker. If possible, I prefer to keep my biking confined to flat pavement and allow my adventurous side to find other outlets.

Navigating the ruts is an important skill for mountain bikers. It takes practice to do it successfully. And chances are that in the process of learning this skill a few mishaps are likely.

Bottom line: trail ruts are dangerous, and so are the ruts in your life.


The dictionary definition of a rut: A habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.

In other words, a rut is…

  • Easy to fall into – it’s the path of least resistance.
  • Difficult to exit or avoid – it requires being intentional!

I’ll be honest with you – I like routines. The beauty of a routine is that it ensures that the important tasks you want done every day actually happen.

Unfortunately, a routine has the potential to quickly become a rut if you aren’t careful. If your routines aren’t regularly evolving over time, they will become less impactful.

Beware! If you are not getting the results you desire, that’s an indication that it’s time to revamp your routine.

The Opposite of a Rut

“The opposite of planning is the rut.” That’s a powerful quote!

You see, there is a fine line between routine and rut! The defining factor: results!

A rut is another way of saying stuck.

Ruts start in your head. Your thinking is what gets you stuck. Your beliefs and mindsets play a big role in keeping your locked in your ruts.

And It’s also your lack of thinking and reflecting that prevents you from adjusting your routines and ways of doing things so that you are able to get better results.

A More Mindful Way

When you are perpetually busy, lack margin, and go through life on autopilot, finding yourself in a rut is inevitable.

Don’t be too hard on yourself though. Everyone slips into ruts at times. The question is, how swiftly do you notice the rut and take the appropriate action to exit the rut? Just like mountain bikers must practice avoiding and exiting ruts, exiting life’s ruts also takes practice.

Here are a few tips to help you ditch your ruts:

1. Notice the Ruts

You can’t change what you don’t see. The first step is to notice the rut! To help you spot your ruts, here are some things to think about:

      • What results do you want personally or professionally that you aren’t getting?
      • Where in your life or work do you feel comfortable?
      • Where in your life or work are you bored? Unchallenged? Frustrated? Dissatisfied?
      • How might you revamp your morning routine, a work outs, work routine, or your evening routine?
      • What would make routines more appealing to you?
      • What do you REALLY want?

These are great questions to process, perhaps even journal about. Describing your responses in in writing allows you to seeing your situation in black and white. Then you are more able to step back and gain fresh insights and spot the ruts.

Not a writer? Share your rut with a trusted friend or family member or even better, work with a coach!

2. Listen to Your Ruts

Listen to what your rut is telling you as you look back over what you’ve written. Is the rut whispering that you like to play it safe? Is it revealing that you are feeling stressed? Or is your rut a way of avoiding the truth of what’s going on in your life right now? Maybe your rut is protecting you from something you are afraid of? Or perhaps you are clinging to your routine because you fear the unknown.

What is your rut telling you?

3. Count the Cost

Be honest, by remaining in your rut or ruts, what will it cost you?

      • Peace of mind
      • Results
      • The opportunity to grow
      • Relationships
      • Your calling
      • The chance to make a difference in the lives of others
      • Your freedom
      • Your joy

What are you missing out on by remaining in your rut?

4. Reconnect to Your Purpose

Who did God create you to be – how are you meant to reflect Him?

What assignment has God given you – a practical way to impact the lives of others?

What steps do you need to take to realign with His heart for your life?

How will you incorporate your purpose into your life?

Unsure of your purpose? Now is the perfect time to make that a priority and seek it out! Ask God to show you who He created you to be. Work with a coach – helping you clarify your purpose is one of the many ways a coach is able to serve you.

Walking in your purpose is the most fulfilling thing you will do!

5. Align Again with Your Values

Life has a way of challenging your values and causing you to drift. And when that happens, you will experience friction in your life. Pretty soon you’ve unintentionally landed in a rut.

If you don’t know what your Top 5 Values are, I encourage you to identify them now. They serve as a powerful framework from which to intentionally operate from.

6. Reset your Goals

Don’t just set goals and blindly pursue them. Regularly evaluate your goals – are they the right ones for this season? Periodically examine your everyday action steps – are they actually getting you closer to where you want to be?

There’s no shame in resetting your goals if circumstances have changed and your current goal is no longer the priority.

And it’s essential to weave your action steps into your routine. Action steps that actually move the needle in a positive direction.

7. Try New Things

Begin exposing yourself to new ideas by reading, mingling with interesting people, watching Ted Talks, or participating in an adventure. Plan to take breaks, vacations, or a sabbatical – stepping away from your rut is liberating! Switch up your working environment or the way you do certain activities. Experiment – it’s a fantastic way to leave your ruts behind!

8. Plan!

A rut is your default mode. Planning is the antidote to that. Consider…

      • What needs to change?
      • What steps will you take to make those changes?
      • Who will hold you accountable? Without accountability the odds are good that before long you will find yourself drifting back into your rut!
      • What new habits do you need?
      • What do you need?

With all that in mind, make a strategic plan.

Ruts are dangerous, but not impossible to navigate! And the sooner you exit, the better. The more you practice exiting your ruts the easier and easier it becomes – something you do in stride like a skilled mountain biker!

Are you ready for a fresh groove?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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