Benchmark Business Group

Escaping Uncomfortable Ruts

February 23, 2016

This month we've focused on understanding how you decorate your rut. We looked at ruts that feel safe and comfortable, and discussed the need for small action steps to escape ruts. This week we want to focus on ruts that feel uncomfortable.

The beauty of an uncomfortable rut is that you already have a source of motivation. Uncomfortable ruts are not pleasant. You already have the awareness that you are NOT getting the results that you want. Yet, escaping these ruts can still be very difficult. It's change. Even if you know it's for the better, change can be difficult. It's also hard work. You have to redesign not just your actions, but how you think about the rut in the first place.  So where do you begin?

  • Know Where You Are Going - It might seem like common sense, but it's not. Just because a rut is uncomfortable doesn't mean that you truly know what you want. You know you want something different, but what? You have to have a vision that you know so well it's like a picture of the future that you can touch, see, and feel. If you're not clear on what is on the other side of the rut you're still a little lost. Define the end result so clearly that you can explain it to others.
  • Take Ownership - We discussed letting go of excuses in our article on safe and comfortable ruts, but it applies here as well. It doesn't matter what the rut is, if you want to escape it there's only one person that can make the necessary changes. That's you. If you're waiting on something or someone to make changes to help you escape, you have not taken ownership of the rut. Taking ownership means that you accept the responsibility of escaping the rut, but it also means that you are so connected to the result of what you want that you won't give up. Too often we stay in a rut, even if it's uncomfortable, because it's easier than escaping. We give up. Taking ownership means that no matter what set back you encounter you keep going. You may have to get creative and look for out of the box solutions, but you don't stop and you don't repeat the same mistakes simply hoping for a different result.
  • Understand Your Barriers - If there's one thing to know about an uncomfortable rut it's that often times the journey out of the rut is not fun and games. If it was, escaping wouldn't be such hard work and more of us would accomplish it. There will be barriers and setbacks. Some of these will be real and some will be larger in your mind than in reality. It doesn't matter if they are real or your perception, they have the same ability to keep you stuck in your rut. Before you begin to escape your rut you should know your barriers and have a plan for what you will do when you encounter them. Plan out how you will handle setbacks. Give yourself permission to lose a battle now and then, we all do, but know how you will win the war. Understanding your barriers is not a one-and-done exercise. You will run into unknown barriers as you work on escaping a rut, be prepared to repeat this step as necessary.
  • Accountability Partners - Having an outside perspective is priceless. Accountability partners can help challenge the way you think about a rut and lend an ear to listen when things get tough. They can also add an extra layer of accountability to the process. In addition, they will be there to help cheer you on when you make progress. Trying to tackle a rut yourself is difficult. It can be done, but we suggest talking to a mentor, a business coach, or a trusted member of your team to help provide a different perspective.
  • Think Small - We discussed taking small action steps last week. You did not get into a rut overnight and you will not completely escape overnight. Sure, we all want the magical pill, but true results come from small action steps in the right direction. If you haven't already - be sure to read last week's article on small action steps.
Remember, just because a rut is uncomfortable, doesn't mean it's easy to escape. The tips above will help you break down the rut into manageable pieces, but they also challenge you to think about your rut differently.
Only when you begin to think different will you begin to see results.

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