Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
I’m sure we’ve all heard that before. But there are times when insanity starts to feel like doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results.
I’m sure we’ve all hit plateaus in our lives. Whether it’s the nutrition plan you’ve been following for 6 months that suddenly seems impossible to stick to, the workout schedule that’s leaving you feeling tired and burned out, or your career that you loved that’s suddenly become an uninspiring daily grind. Sometimes it’s even just a super busy few months that means sticking to your regular schedule is exhausting and not making you feel as enthused as normal.
In the past I’ve convinced myself that what’s needed is more willpower. Just keep going, stick to the plan better and everything will work out. But over the years I’ve figured out that trying to force myself to do something I don’t really want to do is a recipe for disaster, especially if there’s no actual results to be seen. I start behaving like a petulant child, sulking and refusing to do anything at all. Even though the only person trying to force me to do it is myself.
I’ve found that sometimes what’s needed is to press the virtual reset button. Start again fresh, with a clean, blank, slate.
Sadly, or not, however you want to look at it. We are not machines. It’s not like when my iPhone fills up with junk and I can factory reset it and then reinstall only what I need. Pressing the reset button on an actual human being requires some slightly more ambiguous action and a little experimentation. It’s not something you can just think your way out of. You need to try things until you find out what works for you, now, in this exact situation.
Here are 6 practical ways I use to press my reset button when I get stuck in a rut.
If you’re still kind of liking the process, but not getting the results you want, sometimes it’s worth just starting from scratch.
Forget everything you’ve already done and begin again at the beginning.
This has worked for me with nutrition plans when I’ve gone right back to the beginning, completely recalculated my macros and started tracking them like I did when I first started. It’s easy to slip off track, you’re not weighing things like you did when you first started and portion sizes start to creep up.
If it’s an exercise routine, it can be that your form has slipped, you’re rushing through your reps to get it over and done with. Remember how it worked when you were first learning and go back there and start again. You might not be able to turn back time, but you can pretend.
If you’re totally sick of what you’re doing. Then stop doing it.
Try achieving your goals a different way. So you want to get stronger, but doing the rounds of the machines at the gym is boring you to tears? Book an appointment with a PT and try the free weights, or see what classes your gym offers and book yourself in for a bootcamp.
How long? How long do you need before you’re desperate to get back to your old routine?
Try a week where you don’t count calories, don’t go to the gym, skip training and make absolutely no effort at all to be the mythical “better” you. Hopefully you’ll fairly quickly realise that the old you was doing ok actually and return to your life with a new spring in your step.
Like after Christmas when the thought of eating lettuce and drinking nothing but ice water for the whole of January feels positively appealing.
When your space is a mess it’s hard to feel motivated, engaged and go-getting. Take some time to organise.
It could be that organising your kitchen cupboards and buying yourself a new notebook to plan your meals in will help you get feel more motivated and press that virtual reset button on your diet plan, or buying some new stationary and writing a proper to do list and a long-term plan gives you a fresh perspective on your work.
Or it could just be that getting your house in order in a more general way will give you that fresh start feeling and revitalise you. Clean the kitchen from top to toe, tidy your desk, buy fresh bed linen. Whatever gives you that clean slate feeling.
It could be related to whatever rut you find yourself in, or something completely different. Find something new to inspire you. You don’t have to sign up for an expensive and time-consuming evening course, it could be as simple as buying a magazine and reading the long articles you normally skip over.
Go the library and get out some books on a topic, use Google and do some serious research, or start a free course online (Try OpenLearn, my friend just tipped me off about the free online courses from the OU).
If you’re really stuck in a rut and feel like you’re spinning your wheels then give yourself some time to revisit what you want out of life.
Maybe those goals you set aren’t really what you want now. Has something changed? Has your motivation disappeared just because of boredom and familiarity, or because you need to revisit whether that’s what you even want anymore?
Take some time to really get a grip on what you want. The world is full of ex-power lifters turned yoga instructors and High School drop-outs who became high-powered lawyers after going back to school in their 40s. If you really can’t get back on track, maybe it’s time to ditch it all and make a really big change. Be brave, take the leap, and don’t look back.