For creative business owners and entrepreneurs, being stuck in a rut can feel like a death knell for creativity. We can easily become irritated, impatient, overwhelmed, bored, angry and even depressed. Feeling stuck can lead to the business equivalent of the unprepared driver whose car gets stuck in the mud or snow – pushing the gas pedal down, attempting to go faster, and getting further entrenched in the rut.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, being stuck in a rut signifies it’s time to take your foot off the gas and slow down; it’s time for introspection. It may feel like a luxury for a busy entrepreneur, but it’s really a necessity: Set aside some time to reflect, come up with a plan of action, and get out of that rut!
Before sharing some tips to get you started, let’s take a look at the difference between a “rut” and a “routine.”
Rut: A habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.
Routine: A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Routines are supportive of our overall personal and business health and wellness. You may not feel like doing some of them, but you don’t typically say ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’ or ‘That was a waste of time’ afterwards (e.g. exercising). While routines in your creative business introduce structure, plans and systems (things many of us creative, right-brainers resist), these are the very things that allow you to build in time for creativity and feel more creative!
Routines provide you with much-needed structure to help keep you motivated, focused, and creatively firing on all cylinders. Get help where needed to get things done, delegate that which zaps your creative energy, and set up systems for success.
Ruts, on the other hand, are born of habits and expectations … of others and of ourselves. “Obligations” and saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’ will toss you right into a rut. You know instinctively when something isn’t right for you, but it feels easier to stay in the situation rather than make a change.
- Staying in a corporate job or doing work that isn’t fulfilling.
- Clinging to a business model that doesn’t work.
- Holding on to a particular type of market or client that isn’t ideal.
- Staying in relationships that no longer fit.
- Continuing to offer services and products that aren’t selling.
Break free and get unstuck from a rut by changing things up. Here are some simple ways to get started:
- Do something you enjoy, something fun, play! Create – cook, draw, doodle, scrapbook, play a musical instrument, sculpt. Take a class, read a book, go to a concert, take in a show, listen to music.
- Enjoy a change of scenery. Head to the coffee shop, take a day trip, take a long weekend.
- Phone a friend.
- Check in with an accountability partner.
- Get a group of diverse thinkers together.
- Take a tech break.
- Start an idea notebook.
It’s time to slow down, take your foot of the gas, assess the situation, look for ways to create traction, get leverage, find help, gain some momentum and break free of that rut!