3 Reasons You May Be Stuck in a Rut…And How to Get Out

Categories Leadership, Learning

My wife recently informed me that we’re stuck. That’s right, in a brief conversation just before our children’s Christmas program this past weekend, my wife confirmed something that I had feared myself: we are stuck. Now I don’t mean this in the sense of being in a bad place in our marriage or feeling stuck in the relationship, but I do mean that we are stuck in some bad habits that are not going to go away unless we take intentional steps toward real change. It is these kinds of habits that keep many of us from getting to where we want to go in different areas of our lives: work, school, relationships, etc.

This got me to thinking about the reasons I get stuck sometimes. It’s almost never intentional, but it just seems to happen, right? As I thought through all the many excuses and “reasons” that I get stuck, for me, it really boiled down to three simple (not really) things:

I Internalize.

Honestly, this is one of the reasons I want to write more. I know myself well enough to know that being left alone with my thoughts isn’t always a good thing, especially when it comes to things I need to change. It’s not that I don’t think about them. I often do. The unfortunate part is that I don’t verbalize them or share them in any way. That basically leads to zero accountability and more of the same unproductive behavior.

I Don’t Start.

I suppose this could be, in part, due to the fact that I don’t share my goals appropriately, but it’s more than that. For me, my paralysis often comes because I don’t feel ready. The conditions aren’t quite right. Maybe I don’t have just the right tool or I feel rushed. Of course, those could be appropriate reasons in some circumstances, but usually, it’s me waiting on the perfect situation…which rarely comes.

I Don’t Finish.

On the occasion that I do start a new project or attempt some significant change (like that last go around at a diet or starting that first blog), it’s sustaining any real progress that then becomes my enemy. This one is perhaps the most disappointing because you’ve conquered the first two hills on your way to real life altering change and then you quit. Recently, my wife and I started reading Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs together. We set a time on Thursday night to go through the questions, and we even did it for three or four weeks in a row. Then we didn’t. Other things came up. We compromised. And when we compromised, it became easier and easier to put it off until we stopped altogether.

So what are we to do? How are we supposed to get out of these ruts to really move in the direction we’ve wanted to move in all along?

Verbalize the goal!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about maximizing my time and being more productive, but I’m beginning to realize that I need to add words. So I want to challenge you to do the same. In the comments below, share one or two of your goals for the next year. I’m going to share a few of mine at the end of this post. Let’s move beyond dreaming and into doing. That brings us to…

Get Started!

Do you know how Michelangelo created the art in the Sistine Chapel? He bought a paintbrush. Obviously, this is oversimplifying it a bit, but the idea is solid. In order for us to achieve our goals or make any substantial change, one of the most important steps is to begin. What is that first step for you? One of the things that I started doing to help me work out when I got home was to immediately put on my running shoes. That was my first step. One of my goals is to better order my week to make the most of my time. For me, that means taking the step of outlining what my ideal week looks like. I got the idea from Michael Hyatt here, and even though I know that I will rarely accomplish the ideal, it gives me something to aim for.

Finish Something!

If we only say it and start it, we have still ultimately failed. I want to encourage you to keep pushing through that failure. For me, the times I haven’t followed through show up as self-doubt and can discourage me from starting again. I tell myself that I’ve been down the road before and know how it ends, but I am determined not to let that be my story. That’s one reason my wife and I are not only going to start reading Love & Respect together again, we’re going to finish it.

It can be really easy to get stuck. It happens to all of us at one time or another. The real game changer, however, is if we are self-aware enough to notice and then disciplined enough to do something about it. Headed into the New Year, there’s no better time than now to think about and share your goals. Here are a few of mine.

Goals for 2015


“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

– Zig Ziglar

Brandon is the founder of A Life to Lead. He is also the husband of Beth, father to Ethan and Kate, and the coordinator of the D6 Conference.

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