What’s the easiest way to get out of a rut? Do you sit still, feet out in front; staring up as the sun melts the stars, hoping some cosmic miracle or natural disaster will displace you? Or do you panic – ferociously run in place hoping to head in any direction that’s closer to “out” while your heels dig deeper and deeper in? Or do you sit still, devise a plan and when energy and opportunity meet – execute it? The last one sounds most appropriate, but then again cliché sounding advice always does.
I assume it depends on the size and depth of the rut. The biggest rut she finds herself in is a chasm where creativity used to be. The more she works – the longer the hours, the more mundane the days, the more menial the requests – the more she loses her words. She is at a loss for words. The place where her creativity used to be is filled with to-do lists and office gist. That person inside who was on fire, passionate and ever producing random ideas, has gone away to hide. In her place are echoes of “Yes Sir” and “I’ll get right on it.”
In his sketchpads are daily schedules and deadlines, on his desktop are meeting minutes and calculations of office related figures and digits. No more manuscripts and pushing her creativity’s limits, no more off-key hummings of beats and lyrics he composed for the industry greats, no more. They have become corporate slaves. With some variation of similar job titles and descriptions come the shackles of response. There is always a command, for which one must respond positively; always an actionable item, for which one must report promptly; always a detailed document for which one must produce an abstract. The roles detailed on their business cards garner great respect from below, great pressure from above and great conflict from within.
Is there a compromise? Is there a place where one can marry the great opportunity that is just a stepping stone job (that gains one experience, teaches one patience and process, and exposes one to networking opportunities and previously unexplored systems) with the actual desires of one’s heart? How long after graduation before an individual actually begin to embrace what they have actually always wanted to do? How does one develop a road map to even identify said path and take steps towards the final destination of the journey when there really is no space in a day? How does one take strides towards the person one seeks to be when all of one’s time is devoted to the person who one is?
The answer sounds like a combination of discipline, strength, willpower and waitpower. The discipline to take the orders currently barked at you because somewhere in the back of your mind you know something about this experience is intended to grow, shape and train your mind to work under pressure and increase your precision and strive towards perfection. The strength to redo, redo, redo and take criticism in private and public, close after 14 hour work days and wake up the next day to return to the same pressures and problems. The willpower to stay instead of up and quitting, to remind yourself of why you are where you are and dig deeper and deeper to pull out that person that’s positive and flexible and helpful and hardly human it sounds as the “ands” add on. The waitpower to continue to exist and flourish, instead of flaking when you are not in your chosen profession or pursuing your real passions.
How does one get out of the rut? By finding a happy medium. You don’t sit, you don’t get frantic, you dig; because although it may appear you are stuck – up is not the only option. Sometimes you dig and you mine and you discover precious stones. So you dig within yourself. You dig your feet in and do the work. That happy medium is tailor made by the individual, after all perception of contentedness is the reality. It is about a certain balance between passion and process, about having perseverance in one’s purpose while still providing professional support as and when needed. It is about expanding one’s endurance to be able to do more, sleep less, dream bigger and redefine one’s success; to be able to feed the experiences of one’s reality into the framework for one’s dreams. Practical example – the daily painstaking task of screening troubled and troublesome visitors can lead to being able to network and negotiate across socio-political lines and can help to define one’s target market when one’s actual dream job becomes one’s current occupation. The mental downtime and almost tangible frustration can be rechanneled into frantic brainstorms that can be used to fling wide the gates of creativity, opportunity and freedom.
So when you are stuck in a rut, you keep on keeping on. You keep putting one mundane overworked foot in front of the other, you take a moment to inhale deeply and when you exhale not only release your worries but allow your dreams and passions to surface from below the box files and list of outstanding deliverables currently weighing you down. Because if you can be assed enough to take that moment to search within, you will realize they are still there. They may be a little crumpled, a little harassed, a little dusty but dreams are resilient and rekindling the fire from within is more than enough to reenergize them. So that when they are ready for release, in that moment, somehow you allow the new wind to come and carry you, which allows you to marry your reality with your vision. It allows you to get through the seemingly unbearable days knowing that this too shall come to pass, and one day you will live the life you love.