No matter who you are, or how successful you might be, you've likely experienced what being in a rut feels like.
No one likes the feeling of being in a rut - but it happens to everyone, especially entrepreneurs.
We can go months, even years where everything simply feels like it's going against us.
It can feel as though we're not making the progress we want to make, and we're not seeing the results we want to see.
It's only natural to feel down and depressed afterward - but being stuck in a rut and not getting out can be a big problem, if we don't get out, we'll never be able to reach our goals.
As someone who's experienced a terrible amount of failure over the few years I've been an entrepreneur, I've experienced, first hand, what it feels like to be stuck in a rut.
It's not a great feeling at all - the overthinking, the depression, and the overall sad feeling, almost pushing you to give up on your dreams is something no one should ever experience.
These low points in our lives can often make us question why we're even chasing something as foolish as success, especially when most of us have no real example to look up to and say, 'I can do it too!'
Luckily, I've looked 'death' in the eyes multiple times and managed to rebound out of the rut every single time.
I wanted to compile a list of the most impactful strategies I used that help me dig my way out of the hole I was stuck in.
Here are 6 powerful tips for entrepreneurs to get out of a rut.
Take a break
The first and most important thing you must do when you're stuck in a rut is just pause.
Yes, pause, and take a break - no matter how long.
If you need a few days off, take a few days off.
If you need a week off, take a whole week off.
If you need a month off, take a month off.
The worst thing entrepreneurs can do when they're stuck in a rut is to keep going, despite all the negativity and emotions they may be facing.
When I ran my agency, I would wake up, do my outreach, and everything else that followed, day after day.
This constant grind almost felt like I was a hamster running around on a wheel with no clear direction of where I was heading.
Every day, I got up and did the exact same thing, only digging myself deeper and deeper into the rut that I was in.
Only until I realised the damage I was doing, was I able to stop and stand a chance to get myself out.
We all need breaks, becoming an entrepreneur doesn't mean becoming a cold, heartless person with no emotions.
We're entrepreneurs, but we're also humans at the end of the day.
Taking breaks is important, no matter what your goals are - gurus all over the internet talking about 'nothin but hustle' are delusional, don't listen to everything you see online.
If you're in a rut, the first thing you should do is stop and take a break.
Write about it
One of the most effective things that helped me get out of a rut was simply writing down what I was feeling.
The worst I've ever felt, again, was when I was running my social media marketing agency.
For almost a year, I was in a constant back and forth battle, doing outreaching, getting on meetings, taking courses, watching YouTube videos, and so on.
Everything I did led straight down the same dead-end it always did.
It started to reach the point where I almost gave up all hopes and dreams of ever succeeding.
Thoughts about giving it all up and going to university like a good, little boy clouded my mind, and I almost succumbed.
I had no one who could understand what I was going through, so everything was stuck inside me with nowhere to go aside from endlessly bouncing around in my mind.
I almost imploded, but then I decided, 'why not write about what I'm going through?'
A week later, a small thought had turned into a 30,000-word e-book.
I've talked about how I managed to write 30,000 words in under a week previously on my blog - it all stemmed from the rut I was in.
Although it's not released, the book talks all about my experience with depression, and the ways that I fought it, making it alive on the other end.
This book was the foundation of my blog. Had I not written those words, I may have never discovered the power in writing, and this blog may cease to exist.
The reason writing is so powerful is that it allows you to leak your brain out on paper, and make everything (including your thoughts and feelings) tangible.
They're no longer ominous thoughts stuck in your mind, but pesky little words sitting on a piece of paper that you have full control over.
Whether you want to rip the paper into a thousand pieces, scrunch it up and throw it into a bin, or even burn the paper into dust, you now have the power.
Secondly, when you don't have anyone to speak to about what you're going through, writing it down instead almost feels like you're communicating it to someone on the other side, even when there's no one there to read it.
It's one of the most effective ways to calm yourself down and realise that everything is not as bad as it seems.
Look at your goals
Now it's time to refer to our business goals - what is it that we're really looking to achieve here?
A lot of the time, entrepreneurs overshoot their goals and ambitions.
It's easy to think big, however, the execution is much harder than the thinking itself.
As entrepreneurs, we're gifted with the ability to think big and dream without limits - what we lack is our relationship with reality.
It's commendable to think we can make $100 million in the next 12 months, but is that really possible?
If this is a goal you've set for yourself, I suggest you go and read my article on setting SMART goals - don't take this as a sign to think small, take it as a sign to think ambitiously, yet within reach.
Although $100 million is a great goal to reach, it's not very realistic to go from 0 to $100 million in 12 months.
In 3 years, perhaps that's a little more realistic - 5 years, even better.
After reading Atomic Habits, I learned one, big lesson from James Clear - humans always tend to overestimate what they're capable of.
This is a concept I discussed in my article on self-improvement.
Instead of setting massive goals, it's important we set goals approximately 4% outside our level of comfort.
This, scientifically, is the optimal level needed to challenge us mentally, while being just enough for us to achieve.
This combination is perfect, because it's important we challenge ourselves, however, setting a goal and reaching it gives us a massive boost in not only our confidence but our ability to keep going.
Think about the goals you've set for yourself.
Ask yourself, are these goals realistic, or were you trying to run before you could walk?
Make necessary adjustments to the goals you set, and go again.
It's better to set small goals, and progressively increase them than set massive goals and never achieve them.
Clarify your WHY & vision
All entrepreneurs experience ruts.
No one is ever perfect, no one ever becomes successful without failing.
I don't think I've ever come across an entrepreneur who's never questioned why they're even on this mad pursuit, to begin with.
However, in times of turmoil, one of the biggest motivators will always be our WHY or our vision.
Entrepreneurs, especially successful entrepreneurs, experience a great deal of failure.
The reason a minority are able to pull through and get back on their feet is because they have a powerful WHY to guide them.
A big problem the rest of us make is simply thinking our goals are enough of a motivator to get us through the troubled times.
Money alone is never enough fuel to keep us going in the face of fear, danger, and failure.
The reason I almost gave up a while back when I was in a rut is because I wasn't clear about my WHY - I didn't know the reason I was doing what I was doing.
I didn't have a vision for where I really wanted to be.
See, most entrepreneurs think about the money, but once you have the money, then what?
You can't simply think about the money, and forget about the rest.
You need to have a reason to want the money, you need a powerful WHY.
I've spent more than half my life watching my mother raise 4 children on her own.
Every day, she shows up and sacrifices her own happiness and freedom to make sure we get what we need.
While it may be hard to realise the level of sacrifice your parents make when you're young, as you grow, you end up noticing just how much they really faced to give you an amazing life.
So first, stop doing what you're doing and be grateful for everything you have, no matter how bad it might currently seem.
Next, you'll want to think of a powerful reason, something that makes you emotional to think about - for me, it's my mother, and will always be my mother.
My unselfish reason for wanting to be successful is her - to give her the freedom and happiness she's deserved all along.
Next, visualize what your life and the life of those around you will look like when you achieve your goals.
You can read my article on creating a vision board for more effect.
Make necessary changes
After I took a break from the marketing agency, I started to see how what I was doing simply wasn't working.
Not only was the business flawed, but I also wasn't getting enough 'me' time.
Everything I did was simply for the sake of making progress with my business.
Once again, remember that we're all human at the end of the day.
We're not machines designed to work 24/7 with no rest, no fun, and no breaks.
So instead of waking up and getting straight to work from 8am to 12am, I would integrate more things I liked to do into my days.
For example, as soon as I finished outreach for the day, I would go out for a walk while listening to a podcast.
This helped me think freely while learning a thing or two on the way.
Next, instead of using YouTube purely as an educational tool, I started using it for entertainment again.
I realised that I didn't need to do more learning, I already knew everything I need to run a successful marketing agency.
Instead, I started to make changes to my business strategy.
My life was over-optimized - it got to the point where I felt like I no longer lived for me, but only for this seemingly pointless goal.
The only way to stay on the ball was to start spending more time doing things that balanced the hardship.
Not everything is always about work - start to do things you like to do.
Have fun with your friends, go out and have dinner with family, etc.
Picking up a hobby is a great thing you should try - I'm a big basketball fan, and it's something I do regularly (when the weather allows here in London).
Maybe start learning about NFTs - who knows where one small hobby can take you.
Accept it, and get yourself out
In an interview, CEO of Feast, David Spinks, said "Ups and downs as an entrepreneur are inevitable. Especially downs.
Usually, you fall into a rut when you're so deep, mentally, in the day-to-day grind that your emotions are directly affected by the state of things.
A founder has to see their startup from a higher level and realize that the ups and downs are a natural part of the process."
You can read 100s of articles.
You can read 100s of books.
You can watch 100s of videos.
You can listen to 1000s of hours of motivational speeches.
The only thing that's going to work is if you get up and pull yourself out of the rut you're in.
This is only a natural part of every entrepreneur's journey - every successful person has faced their rut(s) and triumphed.
Ruts, failure, and all these challenges are ways to flesh out the weak from the strong.
No one is going to pull you out - it's up to you to take action and get yourself out.
Sitting around and complaining that things aren't going how you want them to go is only a way to push yourself deeper into the hole you've dug.
Take the break you need, but come back stronger than ever before.
Those were 6 powerful tips for entrepreneurs to get out of a rut they're stuck in.
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