9 Signs You’re Stuck in a Rut

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A man holding his head in depression, a clear sign of being stuck in a rut

The alarm clock buzzes, you smack to “Off” and turn over with a sigh. Another work day…and you are just not into it. Stuck in a rut, that was me. Oh, so many times me. I just cannot tell you how horrible I felt every morning–and what came out of my mouth when I talked about work with my friends was never positive. So much so that it changed my take on life. It made me lethargic, passive. It truly felt as if my soul were dying each night, only to be resuscitated next morning to endure the same boredom all over again. I’m sure many of you felt the same way at some point. Many probably fell it every day, as I did.

All I kept thinking about was traveling.

Distant, endless travel.

Living elsewhere, amongst people that were not my own.

People that looked very different, and had a different take on life.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? If you were to listen to world-famous writer Anais Nin, you would understand the “wrongness” of the day as described above. It was she who said:

“There is ugliness in being paid for work one does not like.”

Yes, that morning described above is pretty ugly. Naturally, few of us leap out of bed each morning just ready and raring to go to work, but that is not the point. The point is that life is too short to waste doing things that we dislike, spending even one morning despising the tasks that lay ahead, and waking with fatigue because we dread what the day holds.

If you find that each work day dawns with a sense of “ugh”, like it did for me, it is time to face the factthat you just might be stuck in a rut–that you should really consider change. Question is, how long will you tolerate it? And why do you tolerate it? Is it for the money? Well, there a hundreds of ways to make more money than you do now, even teaching English in certain countries can earn you more than an engineer back home as I talked about in this post.

So what are the leading signs that you might be stuck in a rut? What are the warning signs we should be on lookout for? These signs should also be considered when you pursue a new road. I mean, what’s the point of jumping from a frying pan into a boiling pot?

Here are nine warning signs that I’m on lookout for when I choose any path:

  1. Your work life is the complete opposite of an adventure – instead of seeing the world as you had hoped, you are seeing a cubicle;
  2. You don’t have any idea of precisely where you are going with your career only that you are supposed to be “advancing” in some measurable way;
  3. You stick with a job or firm because you think that your friends/family/colleagues believe it is what you “should” do;
  4. You catch yourself daydreaming about working in an entirely different place or even country and longing to set out and make an independent career;
  5. You don’t feel as if your skills, creativity, or talent are being tapped into in any way;
  6. It has become all about the money;
  7. You’re not helping anyone else or improving the world around you;
  8. You want to change directions but cannot see a way to do so; and
  9. You keep thinking that you have to get out of this job, city, location, etc.

These are all classic tell-tale signs that you are stuck in a rut or a track that is not going where you had hoped. To overcome this situation can be a bit of a challenge, and even a bit frightening, but it is an absolute must.

Please, please, please–do not follow the path that spells out comfort when your soul screams out for passion. Don’t starve your dreams at the cost of living the status quo.

Zip lining in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Zip lining in Chiang Mai, Thailand

You have to give serious consideration to passion rather than prestige. You have to remember why you were stuck in a rut. There is no job that is worth the trade off of your personal satisfaction and happiness. The world is truly your oyster and it is never too late to become that ESL teacher in Japan, the NGO worker in Africa, or the freelance writer in India.

Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok, Thailand
Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok, Thailand

It’s never easy leaving the comforts of home behind to try out new and exciting adventures across the globe. If it was, everyone would be doing it. I’ll tell you what–it’s a lot better than being stuck in a rut.

It takes a lot of courage and passion to travel long-term. But if you truly believe in this dream, then read some of the other inspiring articles on this site–or any other travel blog. Let them serve as the fuel to your dreams, let them give you perspective and passion. These are real travelers that have done it–are doing it–and will most likely never regret having done it. The question is:

Wouldn’t you regret not doing it?

What made you decide to travel? Did you feel as if you were stuck in a rut?


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6 comments on “9 Signs You’re Stuck in a Rut

  1. These past 5, 6 months, I have honestly found myself in line with every warning sign that you mentioned!!!
    That is why I did my research and found a teaching job in China to start next year February.

    I found myself in a space that I am not content in being in. A ‘cubicle’ of isolation. And more importantly a cubicle of insanity, turmoil and an utter sense of myself resorting to ‘backwards thinking’ on a daily basis. High paying – yes, but in no way satisfying.

    Thank you for your articles. They have truly been an inspiration to me over the past 2 days already. I will follow you with great reason and cause.

    Keep well, safe travels and keep up the good work!


    1. Thanks for your comment, Chris, and sorry for the late response! The adventures awaiting you are a blessing, just don’t fall in love with a local too quickly. I’ve known many a man go back home with a broken heart, just because of this alone! (friends of mine). Either way, whether you live one month or ten years abroad, the impact it will have on you will run very deep. Keep me posted, would love to hear more.

  2. This quite accurately describes myself at the moment and it gives me great motivation to know I am not the only one. We have begun putting in motion our “Escape plan” (we are just in the limbo stage of saving up for a year and getting everything sorted before we go i.g the house!!- but we WILL get there!) and we believe that if you believe in a different life then you owe it to yourself to go out there and make it happen, listen to your heart and not what is “normal” or what is right for other people. I have also been reading a lot of your blogging tips and again take heart in how it began for you and where you are now, inspirational! Cheers!

  3. I’m really glad for decisions I’ve made to quit my job and go travelling full-time. No regrets here. I’m doing what I love and that makes me happy every single day! Great post, so inspiring!

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