4 Quick Tips For Getting Out Of A Rut

by Ron Haynes

Once upon a time there was a frog named Fred who fell into a deep wagon rut. Though he tried and tried, he just couldn’t hop out. He hopped along the length of the rut but it seemed to go on forever. Then his friends showed up and though they coaxed and encouraged, he just couldn’t hop out of that rut.

Frank, one of his friends, asked him what he was going to do. “I guess I’ll just be stuck here forever. I just don’t feel very motivated anymore.” It seemed hopeless.

A few days later, Felicia saw Fred on a lily pad. “What happened, Fred?” she asked. “How’d you get out of that rut?”

“Well, after you guys left, a wagon came along and I HAD to get out!” explained Fred.

We’ve all been in a rut, stuck in an endless circle of circumstances that we couldn’t seem to shake off. Sometimes, those circumstances change on their own, but most of the time, we have to change them ourselves. Some people say a rut is simply a grave with the ends kicked out. If Fred hadn’t gotten out of his rut, that certainly would have been an accurate description!

How do I get out of a rut?

– Set short term goals. When I set a short term, easily achievable goal, I get to experience the rush of success that makes getting out of a rut seem possible.

– Reduce my fear of failure. When I’m afraid of failing, I seem to freeze up but it’s helpful to remember an old saying in Silicon Valley: “If you’re going to fail, fail fast, and fail cheap.” The quicker I recognize that things aren’t going well, the more money I save and the sooner I can get on to something that works.

– Hedge my bets. I hedge my bets by always having a plan B and sometimes a C and a D! I find that having a backup plan reduces a sense of hopelessness.

– MAKE momentum. Once I get one step under my belt, I’ve found it important to take TWO more steps, not just one. Two more steps moves me much further along.


Of course, the first step to getting out of a rut is to recognize you’re in one. You may be stuck in a “busy-ness” rut, or a lack of studying rut, or a job rut. You may need to make extra money, repair a relationship with a spouse, or update your resume. To get out of these or any other rut, set some short term goals, fail fast and cheap, hedge your bets, and take two more steps and you’ll be back on the lily pad in no time.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Srinivas Rao

Thanks for sharing this. Given some of the challenges I’ve had over the last few months I can relate to this.

Positively Present

Excellent advice for getting out of a rut! I especially like the first point. When we set small goals that are easy to achieve, we build up our confidence and can soon move on to bigger and bigger goals.


This is how I usually get out of a funk. If I could only cure my personal finance rut, it would be great!


Great story, shows the idea really good.
Ruts seem to pop up everywhere. Home. Work. School.
I’ve always thought that if I could make just a little progress, I’d feel better and I always do!

Air Jordans

Yeah I totally agree about those short term goals. We all need them and it helps to not get stuck in a rut. You just can’t forget why you are doing what you are doing to stay motivated.


I usually get into a rut because I let myself get there. The moment I want to get out, I charge full speed ahead at the problem and it always works out.

Dr. Len Schwartz

I wholeheartedly agree about setting short-term goals. Its when you conquer the short term goals that the larger goals are more obtainable.


I learned by reading Libby Gill’s latest book, “YOU UNSTUCK: Mastering The New Rules of Risk-Taking in Work & Life,” that sometimes I limit myself from succeeding. Libby teaches successful life strategies to help people overcome limiting assumptions and undermining behaviors so they can make real and lasting change. Excellent book for anyone in a rut.

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