5 Steps to Getting Unstuck and Out of a Rut

Have you ever found yourself stuck in that terrible loop of inactivity, depression, and anger? Are you angry at the world, others or yourself because you’re not getting things done – or even started because you’re circling around and around, covering the same ground and never moving forward? Well, it’s time to stop spinning your wheels! It is easy to get in a rut. Often when we are stuck in a rut we wait on an external change to happen. But real changes doesn’t HAPPEN to us, but happens WITHIN US. Digging your way out of this rut is possible – and the way to do it may be easier than you think! Look at these 5 tips below:

1. Have manageable goals. If you can’t get started because the task overwhelms you, break it down into small, manageable bites. You don’t have to solve the problems of the world in ten minutes. Take it one step at a time. (I love the SMART goal approach). For instance, job hunting – that most terrifying of activities for some of us! Today’s goal would be to find your resume. That’s it. Dust off that resume and you are done for the day! After you accomplish that, relax and give yourself permission to enjoy the rest of the day! Tomorrow, you work on your resume for twenty minutes. A day later, you do another 20. And so on and so forth. At the end of a week, make a list of all you’ve accomplished and admire it! You may be surprised at how a little each day can add up! Now you are ready to send that baby out!

2. Break the stuckness by mixing up your routine. You need a jump-start, so take action. Many of us live on auto-pilot. It is time to do something you’ve never done before. Eat something you can’t pronounce. Visit a city you have never been to. Or go even further. Want to date? Download Bumble. Want a new career? Research going back to school or how your skills transfer to a new industry. Upset the norm somehow! It helps to mix it up.

3. Reflect on this question, “What is keeping me from moving forward?” Understanding what’s holding you back requires some self-reflection. Are the things standing in your way being manufactured by you? Are there any external factors at play—the economy, your family, etc? Differentiate between the factors that you have control over and those you don’t. Put aside the things you have no power over, and address the ones you do. Ruminatitng over what you cannot change will deplete your mental resources. When we focus on that we cannot control we end up feeling discouraged, depressed, and hopeless. Put your energy into what can be changed, and you will be encouraged and rejuvenated when you shift your factor to things within your control.

4. Check your surroundings because our environment impacts us psychologically. Sometimes a change of scenery can help to get you unstuck. There is a reason they say travel is restorative! It’s amazing the power new surroundings have to renew and refresh the human spirit. And you don’t have to travel to the far reaches either. If the Maldives is not an option, try taking a different route to work, grocery shopping at a new store, or visiting a new local city. New perspectives are within all of our reach! It helps to clear your mind and get some distance–it gives some fresh perspective!

5. If you’re trapped in an emotional “loop”, consider looking into counseling. A counselor can you help you explore how your maladaptive thoughts are generating certain negative emotions and in turn impacting your behavior. A good clinician can help you to get unstuck. Often when a person is stuck, they are living in the past. The past cannot be undone but we can find a way to make peace with it & move forward.

At the end of the day all ANY of us can do is take one day at a time. Don’t try to accomplish a lifetime’s work in a day. That will only make everything seem hopeless. Take care of today. And don’t worry about yesterday. Yesterday is over. It is time to shift your focus to doing something today that will lead to better tomorrows.

So the next time you find yourself unable to move forward, just remember we all get stuck at times. It is part of the universal human experience. The trick is to minimize the time you stay stuck! Trust that you will get out of whatever predicament you may find yourself in!

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in seeking counseling with me:


Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC


590 Franklin Ave.

Suite 2

Nutley, NJ 07110



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