Sometimes I get into a rut. I feel stuck. Stagnant.
When I first moved to Missoula, Montana, I felt this way. I didn’t have many friends, just a few acquaintances. One acquaintance invited me over for game night where a group of us sat around playing board games and drinking wine.
The get-together’s host, Rebecca, was a theater director. When I asked how her most recent production, Thisillusionment, was coming along, she said, “Everything’s great, except I can’t find someone to fill the main role of Ivan the Magician.”
Feeling the courage provided by three glasses of wine, I extended my arms in front of me, palms down, and then flipped my palms upward with exaggeration, rolled up my sleeves one-by-one, and said, with arms spread wide, “I think I might be the magician you’re looking for.” Rebecca laughed and said she’d let me audition for the role.
So I did.
I’ve never acted in a play, so I couldn’t believe it when they offered me the lead role.
I spent the next eight weeks rehearsing, five days a week, four hours each evening, getting ready for the production. Without realizing it, I slowly moved out of my rut. The growth I experienced in just two months was astonishing; I’ve never grown that much in such a condensed period of time: I gained an exponential amount of acting experience, learned how a play was developed start-to-finish, and, most important, I made great friends with whom I now have a strong connection. I became unstuck.
A lot of my mentoring clients ask me how to get out of a rut. I tell them to change their physical state. I don’t suggest all my clients audition for a play, but I do suggest they do something offbeat.
Diving into something new can be terrifying, or at least uncomfortable, but those feelings of discomfort are indicative of growth.
If you’re stagnant or stuck, change your state. Do something offbeat: audition for a play, take a photography class, take tango lessons, do cartwheels in the yard. Whatever you do, do not continue the same old routine.
Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.