How do I get myself out of this rut?

For the last couple of years I feel like I am just coasting through my life. I don’t feel connected to it like I used to or as engaged. It’s like I am in a rut with no way out. I try to to climb out but something always keeps me from successfully escaping the rut. It ultimately feels like I need something outside of my control to happen to get me out of the rut, but I don’t just want to wait for something to happen. How do I get myself successfully out of the rut?


When matter changes states, the temperature stays the same – law of phase transition
13-21-38-41-50 / 17


Hello Diner. To get out of this rut, you should understand what’s digging it. It sounds, quite apparently, that you feel stagnant–that you’re looking for change.

One of the things we Fortune Cookies find most puzzling about you humans is your two-sided relationship with change. Change is something humans spend a great deal of time and energy honing out of your lives. You find great comfort in rituals–daily, seasonal, yearly. Consistency is not only safe, it’s a virtue. To be reliable is a compliment–a feature for which you’d pay extra.

But with how much you knead regularity into the substance of your lives, you humans also puker at the taste of it. Stagnation is the killer of romances and careers alike. Both marriage counselors and career coaches probably hear the word “rut” as something many of their clients are desperately trying to escape.

Much like yourself.

Most of our regular Diners are in their twenties and thirties–so it’s likely you are also somewhere in that part of your life where you’re coming out of early adulthood. A few short years ago, you were living the white-knuckled action sequence of trying to figure out budgets, longer tax forms, insurance policies, payment deadlines, and directions to the restroom at your new job. At the time, all that “adulting” was probably intensely intimidating and harrowing.

Gritting your teeth, you willed your neural pathways to expect, understand, and negotiate all that newness. In time, new became familiar. One day, you realized all that isn’t scary anymore, and it hadn’t been for a while now–much to your surprise. You let yourself sigh a breath of relief. You tell yourself, “I’ve got this.”

But inevitably, familiar became stagnant, and here you are now. Understand I’m not accusing you of ingratitude. I’m not saying that you brought this on yourself. Like all the other Fortune Cookies eaten before me, I’m just signposting the now.

So to get out of this rut, you change, but now, you understand that everything in your mind is resisting that change because, again, predictability is safe. And your instincts’ job is to keep you safe so you can continue feeling safe another day.

Be judicious and steadfast against that fear of change, and you’ll get out of your rut. Understand your basic need for food and shelter and be shrewd about making sure you’re covered. But then, slowly–yet persistently–change. Start small with how you decorate and organize your day. Then branch out to bigger changes like new job opportunities or a new location.

Let yourself have small, controlled servings of adrenaline-pumping, scary change, and give yourself the reward of conquering them. When you find yourself overcoming the challenges of learning something new, you’ll work yourself out of the rut. Good luck, Diner, and come back to let the Cookies know what’s new.

This Fortune is dedicated to Mr. Arvel Chappell, III for helping the Bakery fix its pilot light so that we can continue offering our fine baked goods.

And as always, thank you to Ms. DJL for your unwavering support.