Reality Check: Spinning Our Wheels

One of the rare Choice Theory-related books that I don’t have is entitled Stop Spinning Your Wheels. As I thought I might indulge in a gift to myself, I went browsing for it. That browsing reminded me that the idea of being in a rut and spinning our wheels shows up in many contexts.
For example, perhaps you are in a worry rut or a stress rut. Maybe debt, diet or lack of career progress has you feeling like you’re spinning your wheels. You may even feel like you’re spinning your wheels in an important relationship.
Most everyone is familiar with the feeling of being stuck in some aspect of life. Thus, the abundance of self-help books that promise to help us get out of whatever rut or ditch we have fallen (or driven) into.
What do we do when we recognize that we are spinning our wheels? If we’re not stuck too badly, stepping harder on the gas may get us out. In other words, continue what we are doing, but with more vigour.
However, if we’re badly stuck, we may first need to shift into reverse. Back up a bit and take a look around. Where do you want to go? Is making a beeline the most effective way to get there? Or might it be appropriate to choose a more indirect, meandering route to get to your destination?
Regardless of which rut you are “stuck” in, you could look at this wheel-spinning pause as an opportunity to re-evaluate. Is your original destination a goal that’s still important to you? Or are you on this path out of habit or out of a belief that you must not give up?
For example, let’s say you have been on a diet. You have made progress but now you are stuck. It’s discouraging. You continue doing things that should help, but there you are, spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere.
Take a step back and rethink your destination. Is your goal a specific number that you believe will make you happy? Or when you rethink it, is your goal to be healthier? Is the route to that goal different than what you are doing now?
Or perhaps your rut is another common sticking point—career progress. Maybe you’ve been with an employer for a long time. You think you’re doing everything possible, yet you are making no progress.
Take a step back; try something different. (No, I am not suggesting you quit your job!) Try something different in terms of learning, volunteer work, or by developing a new skill.
Also, step back and pay attention to the people you work with, for, and sometimes work around. Rather than viewing interactions from the perspective of “Will this help me get ahead?” try really listening and getting to know people. Look at your workplace with fresh eyes. I believe that luck and opportunity tend to show themselves when we’re active, engaged and happy.
So if you’re in a rut, try changing what you’re doing. Rather than doing the same things you’ve been doing more vigorously—like stepping on the gas even harder—give a change of action a try. Experiment on a small scale, with low risk. See whether a change will launch you out of the rut and back on track.
Have you ever felt stuck? What worked for you?

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