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21 Ways to Get Out of a Rut

How to Press the Reset Button and Start Over


A comtemplative single mom.

Infuse your life with some spontaneity when you feel like you're in a rut.

Photo © Pierre Desrosiers/Getty Images

Do you sometimes feel like you're doing the same things, over and over? As though your life has become too much of a routine? You're not alone. Many single moms and dads feel overwhelmed by day-to-day responsibilities and wish they could get a fresh start. When you feel this way, shake things up a bit with these tried-and-true methods for getting out of a rut:

  1. Reconnect with others. Call an old friend or family member you haven't seen in a while and set a date to get together this week.

  2. Rekindle a passion you enjoyed years ago. From playing the guitar to writing short stories, make time in your life to do the things you enjoy most.

  3. Try something new. Be daring. Challenging yourself to do new things builds your confidence and opens new doors in your life.

  4. Ask a friend to teach you a new skill. Try swapping skills. For example, you teach her where to find legal help in your state while she teaches you how to balance your checkbook.

  5. Take an online course. Don't have time to go back to school right now? Take an online class instead. There are plenty of free courses to choose from -- some that will even help to increase your earning potential.

  6. Do the opposite of what you usually do. Sometimes we feel like we're in a rut because we're doing the same things, day in and day out. Try mixing it up by doing the opposite of what you'd usually do.

  7. Take a day off. Give yourself permission to take some time off. Sometimes a day of rest and relaxation is all you need to recharge and approach your biggest challenges with more confidence and vigor.

  8. Try a different tactic with your kids. Feel like your kids are taking advantage of you? Try doing something different and completely unexpected. You might be surprised what will take place between you when you have their full attention.

  9. Forgive someone who doesn't deserve it. Sometimes it takes more energy to hold on to our anger than it does to release it. Take some time to write down your feeling and then let go, completely, of your right to control the outcome.

  10. Apologize. Give someone the surprise of their life by apologizing when they least expect it. The recipient might be your kids, a co-worker, or even your ex. Learning how to apologize can be a powerful way to restore relationships and move forward.

  11. Be generous. Choose to do something you don't have to do. For example, reach out to your ex and invite him or her to attend your child's game or school event. That small act of kindness could be the thing that propels your co-parenting relationship to a more collaborative level.

  12. Read a book. Choose a title that interest you -- preferably one unrelated to work. Go to the library and browse through the new fiction section until you find something that's calling your name.

  13. Take a media fast. Turn off the TV, the computer, and even your iPod for a few days. Let your mind truly relax during your downtime, instead of filling it with other people's stories, images, and emergencies. You might be surprised what you begin to think about when you empty your mind of all the distractions around you and allow yourself to imagine, think, and dream.

  14. Record your dreams in a journal. Grab a notebook and start writing down the images that come to you while you sleep.

  15. Express your gratitude. Each day, write down five things that you're thankful for in a gratitude journal.

  16. Host a family meeting. Conduct a meeting with your kids to talk about your household rules, schedules, or any topic that's important to you right now.

  17. Clean out your closet. Sometimes the clutter around us can feel overwhelming. Clear a bit of it out and see how you feel as a result.

  18. Say no to something you don't have time for. For example, decline an opportunity to volunteer for the next community dance or bake cupcakes for the school bake sale -- and invest that time and energy into something that needs your attention right now.

  19. Take the next step in your career. Speak with your supervisor about taking on more responsibility or contributing your skills in a new way. You might be surprised how much more fulfilling work can feel when you're involved in tasks that matters to you.

  20. Give something away. Look around. What are the things that are taking up valuable space in your home that could be given away to someone who might need or want them? Use freecycle.org to pass them on and free up your mental and physical space.

  21. Surprise someone. Bring joy to someone in your life by surprising them with a visit, a fresh cup of coffee, or a personal note. Thinking beyond yourself is one of the best ways to get out of a rut!

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