Falling Into Ruts

Habits are an interesting beast.  On the one hand, they can be incredibly helpful to allow you to automate things that you know you should do but just never seem to get around to otherwise.  For example, I’m a big fan of setting up automatic savings from bank account into your investment accounts.  That way, you know you are saving what you should each month.

Habits also have a dark side, which often seems to get discussed using the phrase: falling into a rut.  We talk about people that stop trying to climb the corporate ladder and stay in the same job for ten years as being in a rut.  Or sometimes when someone always does the same thing every weeknight (eg: watch TV) or eats the same meals all the time (eg: Sunday roast chicken) we say they are in a rut.

Yet are ruts always bad?  Not entirely.  I do think that some change in our lives is a good thing but I can understand the desire to not rock the boat as well.  It just depends on the context.  For example, if you are working on getting a small business off the ground you might very well appreciate being in a bit of a rut at your day job.  After all, knowing what is expected of you each day can be rather nice when in the evenings and weekends you are constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

I personally think the real issue is when that is all  of your life is nothing but a set of ruts.  When you get up at the same time, do all the same things in a day and never go outside of your ruts, then you have a problem.  Why?  Because you can never learn anything new when you are in a rut and for me that would be an incredibly boring life.

I like trying new things even if I fail at them.  I might try a new recipe that a friend gave me and have it turn out bad.  But often I at least learn something from it (even if it is not to try that again in the future 😉 ).  Or I might try to watch or read something different from my usual fare and once in a while I discover something wonderful.  But most of all, I like to keep exploring the world even if it is just my own backyard because it keeps me from mistakenly thinking that I know everything.

For example, when you comes to personal finance I know a fair bit after ten years of blogging, but I still skim new blogs just to see what their point of view is.  Often I don’t come back, but a few times I come across someone who challenges my point of view and makes me reconsider my assumptions.  I won’t always agree with them but I do enjoy at least questioning if I should leave my rut on something.

Do you think ruts are a good thing at times? Or do you try to avoid them?

2 thoughts on “Falling Into Ruts”

  1. Regardless of anything else they are a fact of life. Sometimes they are good, like if you get the ball rolling in the right direction and your maintaining it while excelling or pushing forward somewhere else. If your having issues in a particular area though or that is a focus area of yours ruts can be a bad thing. So I guess I agree with you.

  2. Actually, ruts are even worse than they seem. Getting into a rut alters our perception of time, and actually makes our lives seem shorter than they are. When our brain isn’t being stimulated/challenged, it doesn’t bother recording as much detail, and time (in retrospect) seems to have gone by really quickly.

    It’s taking on new challenges and experiences that fires up our brain, which attempts to record these things in greater detail, and slows down our perception of time looking backwards, making life seem richer and fuller.

    More detail: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/08/11/be-a-time-wizard-how-to-slow-down-and-speed-up-time/

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