We all know the feeling of being in a rut: tired, frustrated, challenged, stressed, worried, uninspired, etc.. It’s okay to fall into a rut at times. But what can you do to get out of it and return to your former self?
I found answer lies in doing that very thing you are not excited to do. Whether it be a sales call, a coding project, tough conversation with an employee, yard work, workout, or whatever… embracing the pain, leaning in and executing on the one thing you seem to be shying away from is the best way to rid yourself of the rut. Overcoming the issue and achieving something again triggers a dopamine spurt and kickstarts your energy. In The Road to Success is Paved with Discomfort, Leo Polovets describes the same concept as one of his secrets to success. Do what feels uncomfortable:
If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to push through discomfort. If you’re a founder, you’re going to have to fire people, you’re going to have to talk to customers and sometimes hear negative feedback, and you’re going to have to make cold calls. If you’re not willing to do those things — or at least hire someone else to do them — then that’s okay, but your likelihood of succeeding will drop dramatically. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what’s more important: your comfort and your ego, or your success and your company’s success?
Recently I encountered this feeling with my day job, as well as with all my other projects. I wasn’t in a traditional rut, per se. But the great weather of the summer here in Seattle teased me so much I gave in and took it a bit more easy in the months of May through August. Although I had a lot of fun, that a little voice inside my head was nagging, cursing at me to get with it and get back to work on all the various projects I have going.
Of course, I did what was required and expected of me at work this summer but I knew I had more in the tank. Yes, I started writing again this summer after taking a number of months off but I could have written much more than I did. Founders RAW was sitting on the back burner for many more months than I wanted it to, purely due to laziness and lack of attention.
I now realized I fell into a comfort zone, and once in that zone I started telling myself all sorts of things to defend my laziness. I started to shy away from working harder, not driving the company I work for and my projects forward. I shied away from the discomfort and paid the price for it – falling into a sort of weird rut.
The farther I go along on this journey the more I understand success is really just learning to leverage the ebb and flow of energy similar to the flow of the ocean tide. Sometimes you are up, driving forward, leaning into discomfort and making things happen. And sometimes you are leaning back, relaxing, enjoying your take and being lazy in the comfort zone.
The beauty is once you start to identify those ebbs and flows of your energy you can start to time it right, and use it to your advantage. The best way to break from ebb and back into flow is to do the very thing you are not wanting to do, to start the thing you seem to be putting off. Do it, and you’ll see it wasn’t as hard, scary, difficult or challenging as your mind was telling you it would be.
Summer ebb-ing is fine and I have enjoyed it. Now it’s time to jump back into the flow.
Good advice, Nick. Even your retired mom can benefit from these words. The comfort zone is real easy, but I have so many great things to do!