Everyone has their own set of routines. Routine keeps us grounded. At the best of times, it keeps us consistent—and perhaps, sane—as we navigate both the calm and tempest waters that life throws our way.
At the worst of times, however, routine can lead to warm, I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed comfort. And this, folks, is a terrible symptom of an emerging business rut. But I’m not here to tell you all the ways you can avoid a rut. In fact, I would tell you to even take advantage of that business rut.
Why? Everyone gets stuck into a rut once and awhile. It is an unavoidable element of life, I think. But that doesn’t mean ruts are entirely useless. More importantly, as someone who thrives on novelty and new experiences, a rut can be the spike of caffeine your business needs to jumpstart.
Step 1: Accept the Rut
People get bored. It’s as simple as that. The worse thing you can do, however, is ignore it. Say you have been working on a project for two months. In the last couple of weeks, however, you notice yourself looking at the clock more often and wishing you were doing something else. Instead of acknowledging that you are in a rut you continue doing everything as normal, with no success.
Denial is a surefire way of ensuring complacency. Once we become accustomed to our routines and habits, we grow immune to their sometimes adverse effects. Accept that you are in rut, and then move past it. This first step, of course, can be the hardest to overcome. Acceptance requires a large amount of honesty that, while perhaps uncomfortable to admit, will help you in the long run.
Step 2: Address the Rut
Establishing what is keeping you inside your business rut is the next crucial step. Have you “fallen out of love” with the product or service you’ve invested in? Or maybe you just need another method of achieving the same goal. Whatever it is, being able to identify the problem will bring you one step closer to a solution.
One thing I tell my team is to always reinvent the wheel: if they see something that isn’t working the way it should, change it. While everyone loves standard practices—hey, they do make life easier—encouraging people to think outside of the box ensures they don’t get stuck inside that box.
Step 3: Overcome the Rut
I believe in many things, and one of them is that work should not be drudgery. When you no longer enjoy your work, it is time to reassess.
As I have learned over and over, the only solution is to create a new door or window for yourself. And as one door closes, another one is bound to open. Whether you set time for a side project or volunteer for a cause you are passionate about, do something completely outside your comfort zone. Imminent failure may be a gruesome cloud floating overhead, but better to try than not.
Although I’ve told this story before, it’s an extremely pinnacle instance from my own experience of how I took advantage of a troublesome business rut. Straight out of college, I was offered a position at a big-name firm. But instead of feeling constantly motivated, I felt bored—I felt like I was in a rut. So, what did I do? I started my own business. And now, I am more motivated than ever to make sure my business, and my team, succeeds.
I try to look at business, and life in general, as a series of silver linings. Not every idea will be a triumph. And sometimes we find accomplishments in the most unexpected of things. But if you continue to pursue business plans and concepts and products that excite and motivate you, you are already one-step ahead of the entrepreneur game.
Ab Emam is the Founder and manages the day-to-day business operations at WDG, The Web Development Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier full-service creative web agency. Visit them on Twitter @aemam.
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