Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Stuck in a Rut?

The kindly nudge you need to shake things up.

Source: AJGallagher/Unsplash

After years of my now-17-year-old daughter yearning for a trip to Europe, my husband and I determined this was the summer we’d make her dream a reality. Knowing our 7-year-old would much rather tour the Basketball Hall of Fame than a Spanish cathedral, we decided to divide and conquer—the boys went on an adventure road trip stateside, and the girls headed off to Spain and France.

A few weeks before takeoff—when flights were booked, lodging was secured, and a vague itinerary was set—it dawned on me that the only adult in charge was going to be me. (Cue the gulping sound.) Yes, I know this realization would’ve hit most people much sooner. What can I say?

It had been years since I’d visited Europe, either with a knowledgeable partner or as a 20-year-old studying abroad with college friends as we naively, cluelessly navigated our way together. But now it was all up to me to lead us out of the safety of comfort zones and into what I hoped would be a mostly pleasant encounter with growth, learning, and fun.

I took a deep breath, stood up tall, dug down for some chutzpah, and proceeded to kick Europe’s butt (in the best possible way). Our adventure was not without the few (to be expected) minor glitches. It was also a wonderful bonding experience exploring other cultures, terrain, and our own capacity to challenge ourselves and evolve. Upon returning home, despite full schedules and an upcoming book launch, I feel a sense of ease, confidence, and empowerment.

Thankfully, we don’t need a passport to bolster our courage and empower ourselves in this way. Whenever we step outside our comfort zone, our self-confidence expands and organically infuses all other areas of our lives, the world opens up, and we recognize that we are far more capable than originally believed. Testing our own limits, even in the tiniest of ways, is the best antidote to feeling stuck in a rut of monotony or on the hamster wheel of busyness.

So go ahead: Shake it up and step out of your comfort zone. Check out that new yoga studio and test out a class. Try your hand at watercolor painting. Create a small container garden on your back patio. Paint your bedroom that color you love. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Explore a nearby town. Go to the movies solo. Hike that mountain. Write that book. Take that trip.

If I can do it, so can you.