8 signs you’re stuck in a rut and need to make a change

Sometimes, we find ourselves in phases of life where everything seems to be on a loop, from our daily routines to our ingrained careers.

This can often lead to a sense of being lost in a maze with no exit, instilling feelings of hopelessness.

Yet, it’s crucial to remember that there’s always a potential for transformation, even in the most challenging situations.

Your inner spark hasn’t been extinguished; it’s merely been dimmed and is waiting for a chance to shine brightly once more. It’s time to reconsider your path and reignite the passion in your life.

In this article, we’ll explore 8 clear signs that you’re in need of a life change. But we’re not just identifying the problems – we’ll also provide guidance on how to navigate these crucial changes.

Let’s dive in and examine the 8 signs you’re stuck in a rut and need to make a change. 

1. You’re Not Taking Care of Yourself

When we’re stuck in a rut, we sometimes forget to look after ourselves. We stop caring about how we look, and it can make us feel even more down.

This isn’t just about looking good on the outside but about feeling good on the inside too.

When you’re stuck, it’s easy to let go of good habits. Maybe you’re not eating as healthily as you used to, or perhaps you’ve stopped hitting the gym regularly.

The thing is, these changes don’t happen overnight. They creep up on you slowly, and before you know it, you’re feeling overwhelmed.

To help break free from this pattern, here are a few suggestions:

  • Set small, manageable goals: Start with simple things like aiming to eat at least one healthy meal a day or setting aside 20 minutes for a walk. Small wins can build momentum and motivation.
  • Prioritize self-care: Schedule ‘me’ time in your day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This could involve reading, meditating, or even just having a quiet cup of tea.
  • Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or professional help if needed. You don’t have to face these feelings alone and sometimes a supportive word or two can make all the difference.

2. You Lack Motivation

A clear sign of being stuck in a rut is when you simply don’t feel motivated. Nothing seems to light a spark in you anymore.

Being too comfortable for too long can leave you feeling unchallenged and bored.

Your life starts to feel dull, and the worst part is that you start thinking it’s not going to get any better.

You’re not trying new things, you’re not passionate about anything, and you’re not making plans like you usually do.

When you’re feeling this way, it can be tough to remember when you last felt truly excited about something.

Life becomes a blur and you feel like you’re just going through the motions.

To navigate through this, consider these actionable steps:

  • Set goals and create a vision: It can be helpful to envision where you want to be. Even if the goals seem too big, breaking them down into smaller, achievable steps can make them less daunting.
  • Try something new: Experiment with a new hobby, recipe, or a route for your evening walk. Breaking out of your routine can often stir up some much-needed excitement and motivation.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness exercises like meditation or simple breathing exercises can help bring focus back to the present moment and reignite your interest in everyday life.

3. You Live Life on Autopilot

When it feels like you’re just floating along without any sense of direction, that’s a sure sign of living life on autopilot.

You get so used to doing the same things day in and day out that you don’t even need to think about it anymore. It’s like your body is just following a pre-programmed routine.

Before you know it, life starts to look like a movie in grayscale, without any bursts of color to liven it up.

You might stop noticing the beauty around you and lose touch with your own feelings and connections with others.

I’ve felt this way before, and I know it feels like losing touch with what makes us human.

To switch off the autopilot and take control of your life, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Switch up your routine: Try to change something about your usual routine. This could be as simple as swapping your morning coffee for a smoothie or taking a different route to work. Small changes can help snap us out of autopilot.
  • Find a creative outlet: Whether it’s painting, writing, gardening, or even baking, having a creative hobby can help you engage more fully with the world around you and bring some color back into your life.
  • Engage with others: Make an effort to reach out to friends, family, or join a local group or club. Connecting with others can remind us of our shared human experience and break us free from the monotony of autopilot living.

4. You’re Feeling Unfulfilled 

When you’re feeling flat and lacking motivation, it’s often a sign that you’re not feeling fulfilled.

Life seems to become just a repeat of the same old routine and getting out of bed to start your day feels like a chore. It starts to feel like what you’re doing doesn’t really matter.

We all have something we’re passionate about, something we love doing.

When we put our heart into something, we feel proud of what we achieve because we know we’ve worked hard for it.

But when you’re stuck, the things you used to love might not excite you anymore. You’re not feeling challenged, and you’re not working hard to figure things out like you used to.

It might feel like you’ve been in your comfort zone for too long and everything has become too easy.

But the truth is, staying in your comfort zone can actually make you feel less fulfilled. You’re not learning or growing, you’re just stuck in the same place.

So, how can you shake off this feeling of unfulfillment? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Find a new challenge: Take on a new project or learn a new skill. This can help rekindle your passion and give you something to work hard for.
  • Step out of your comfort zone: Try something you’ve never done before. This can help you grow and learn, and might just reignite your passion.
  • Practice gratitude: Taking a moment each day to appreciate what you have can help shift your focus from what you’re lacking to what you’re blessed with. It’s a small step, but it can make a big difference.

5. Your Creativity is Drying Up, and You’re Not Bothered

When you’re feeling unfulfilled and lacking motivation, it’s quite likely that your creative spark has dimmed too.

It’s hard to feel inspired to create something expressive when you’re struggling to see your own identity.

Feeling stuck in a rut can feel like you’re losing yourself, and your creativity seems to fade along with it.

Everything feels dull and grey, and you’ve been disengaged from life for so long that you find it hard to tap into your creative energy. The toughest part is that you’ve just come to accept it as normal.

You might feel like a device running on low battery, like you want to express something, but you can’t find your voice.

When I went through this, it felt like I was trapped in a glass box, watching myself but unable to take control.

I felt disconnected from myself, like there was a glass barrier between my inner self and my outer self.

And because I was so afraid to step out of my comfort zone, it took me a long time to start seeking inspiration again.

So, how do you reignite that creative flame? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Find new sources of inspiration: This could be anything from reading a new book, exploring a new place, or just meeting new people. New experiences can often spark fresh ideas.
  • Make time for creative activities: Even if you’re not feeling inspired, just making time to sketch, write, or create can help get the creative juices flowing.
  • Don’t pressure yourself: Remember, creativity isn’t something that can be forced. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself the space to explore and experiment without the pressure of producing something perfect.

6. You’re Always Looking Back

While it’s perfectly normal to reminisce about happy times to lift your spirits, constantly living in the past can be a sign that you’re stuck in a rut.

You might feel a sense of joy remembering these golden moments, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that not all memories are rosy, and some are just ordinary.

If you find yourself constantly looking back, it could be because you’re not content with your present situation.

You might feel as if you’ve already experienced the best parts of your life, and it’s okay to just settle now.

But the truth is, it’s never too late to explore new experiences and reconnect with yourself.

Believing in yourself and having the courage to make changes are often the first steps towards breaking free from the rut and fully engaging with the present.

So how can you start living in the now? Here are a few tips:

  • Embrace change: Life is always evolving, and so should we. Look for new experiences or hobbies that can introduce novelty into your life.
  • Mindfulness: Instead of living in the past, focus on the present moment. Enjoy the now – the sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Set new goals: Having something to strive for can help you look forward instead of backward. It doesn’t matter how big or small these goals are, just as long as they give you a sense of purpose.

7. You Feel Like You’re Running in Circles No Matter How Much Effort You Put In

A significant sign that you’re stuck in a rut is the sensation that despite your best efforts, nothing seems to shift.

Because of this, you might find yourself accepting a life that feels uninspired.

You’ve tried countless times to change your situation, but when nothing seems to move, you start to believe it’s just not meant to be.

However, remember that sometimes, it takes numerous attempts until something finally clicks. After all, life is often about trial and error.

I get it, constant setbacks can be disheartening, and it’s easy to lose hope.

But changing your viewpoint, seeing these setbacks as valuable life lessons rather than failures, could make all the difference.

So, how can you break free from this cycle? Here are a few ideas:

  • Switch up your routine: Sometimes, a change of pace or a new routine can give you a fresh perspective and help you get out of a rut.
  • Be patient with yourself: Remember, change takes time. It’s okay not to get everything right the first time.

8. You Crave Change, But It Scares You

Perhaps the most potent sign of being stuck in a rut is longing for change, yet feeling terrified of it. You’ve become too comfortable in your safety zone.

You’re not exactly happy, but you’re not entirely unhappy either. This makes you believe that maybe things aren’t so bad, and that change could be too risky.

You’re not thrilled about your job, but it’s okay. After all, it’s better than having nothing.

Your friends might be creating a toxic environment, making you feel like you’re constantly on edge, but you think it’s better than being alone.

Sometimes, things that are okay in moderation become harmful when they’re all you have.

Your fear of losing these mediocre comforts could be holding you back from moving forward and truly exploring life.

Staying where you are could prevent you from living a life of happiness and fulfillment, where you can express your true self.

But remember, change can be scary. It’s okay to take it slow, trust the process, because in the end, it will be worth it.

So, how can you overcome this fear of change? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take small steps: Instead of making a massive change all at once, try making small changes to start. This can make the idea of change less intimidating.
  • Embrace the unknown: Remind yourself that it’s okay not to know everything. The uncertainty can be scary, but it can also lead to exciting new possibilities.
  • Seek support: Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. They can provide reassurance, encouragement, and a different perspective.


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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