Coming out of The Rut.

Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing – too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic and that the heart remains unfulfilled.
-Stephen Covey, Author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Once you leave college a lot of the spontaneity that your daily routine used to have is gone. If you try you can keep the spontaneity in your life but it is hard. I have said this in previous a previous post, but once you start working a 9 to 5 the days get very monotonous and the time just passes quicker then you would like. A lot of times your day may go something like this: Wake up, get dressed, eat something on the go for breakfast, get on the same road that you commute on every day for your morning drive to work, arrive at work, settle in, spend your next 8 hours working on a project, assignment, or task that you have been working on for the last six months. If you are lucky your projects change frequently, if you are unlucky you have been doing the same repetitive task for the last 5 years. When you finally to get home from your commute from work to home you rarely feel like working on a side business, going to the gym or taking part in some other productive activity, so what do you do? Most likely you will take part in a few of the activities that Mr. Covey mentions in the quote that I began this post with, thus falling into what I like to call The Rut. To digress for a quick second, if you are working the good ol 9 to 5 and you are not that far removed from college, the problem of taking too many vacations that last too long, as described by Mr. Covey, is not a problem you have to worry about, companies make sure you can’t do that by instituting the crazy leave policies, I wish I had the problem of being able to take to many vacations, okay now back to the topic of this post.

A lot of us 9 to 5ers, especially new ones, ones that haven’t been beaten down into submission by the institution of corporate servitude, have dreams. We have crazy dreams and lofty ideas of starting our own business and working for ourselves. The problem with these ideas is that the overall structure of working the 9 to 5 does not facilitate moving forward with these grand plans, the 9 to 5 actually does more to promote the Rut. By rut as lacking productivity in ones personal life with respect to achieving ones goals, be they entrepreneurial, physical, spiritual, etc. One may be a very productive employee, but they still may be falling victim to a Rut. Just because you are productive at work does not mean that you are being physically productive, spiritually productive or even financially productive. When I am at work, I see numerous people that are physically deteriorating because they have not taken care of their health; I hear numerous people complaining about financial problems; I see people working deep into their formative years in life simply because they cant afford to retire. All of these people have fallen victim to some form of the Rut.

It’s easy to fall into the rut when you think about it, after you get home from work, do you feel like going to the gym, hell no; do you feel like working on some side project of course not. Most likely you feel like sitting down, having a beer and watching T.V. Do your really feel like eating that salad for lunch rather then buying that meat lovers pizza? Hell no. Overcoming The Rut takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline and personal organization.

If you notice that you are falling into a Rut, if you notice that you are getting a little soggier around the waist line, if you notice that you have been making less and less progress on that idea that has been burning a hole in your skull don’t panic, panicking rarely does anyone any good. Start taking incremental steps to bring your self back in line with your goals. If you used to spend 5 days a week working out and you notice that you are in a Rut and you haven’t been to the gym in weeks, start out by trying to slowly get back in a rhythm.
Perhaps try to get back to the at least 2 to 3 days a week at first. As you master the 2 to 3 days, try to gradually increase it until you are back up to your original standards. If you used to work on a side project for 2 to 3 hours every night after work and 6 hours on weekends, try to start off doing maybe 1 hour a day and 2 hours on weekends, and gradually build back up to your optimal level.

I say start off trying to emerge from a rut gradually because you don’t want to try to jump right back in all the way and fail. If you have been in a rut for a long amount of time, your mind is trained to live according to the habits of the rut, breaking that training can be hard and if one tries and fails, one may get discouraged quickly. Small incremental victories are better than losses when it comes to training the body and psyche.

Make no mistake, I am not saying that you have to completely dedicate your life, what little is left after your daily 8 to 12 hour sentence to working on working for yourself and getting physically diesel. One does need to have fun and take part in recreational activities in order to remain sane; but like Mr. Covey says: too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance can make the mind lethargic, and you can easily fall into The Rut.