17 Fun Little Ways To Get Out Of A Rut

Want to get out of a rut? Feeling stuck in your life and want to make some small, doable changes? Click through for 17 ideas you can try today! #stuckinarut #selfhelp #selfdevelopment
Do you need to get out of a rut? If you do, that’s deeeeefinitely not something I know anything about. I’ve certainly never gone to a restaurant so often that the servers notice when I change my hair. 

“Hey, hi! I like your haircut! I bet you want the Bun Chai with fried tofu and extra noodles, right? And hold the bean sprouts and basil, hmm? I’ll set aside a takeaway box for you right now because I know how you are, girl!”

This is the exchange that happens every time I go to Trieu Chau (which is, um, probably more than is healthy.) For as much traveling and new-stuff-trying as I do, I am deeply, dorkily a creature of habit.
I’ve been using up and repurchasing the same jeans and lipstick for two years now.
I literally buy Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi in bulk.
I’ve been running (re:trudging at a slightly-faster-than-average-pace) the same set of stairs for aaaages.
And even though I’ve worked really hard to create this no-boss, work-from-anywhere life, I find myself wearing a rut into my days, doing the same (perfectly nice) things over and over and over.
So lately, I’ve been making a really conscious effort to change things up. Many of the changes I’ve been making are laughably small. Ordering something different at Trieu Chau. Working from a different public library. VENTURING INTO AN EXCITING NEW WORLD OF MEAT ALTERNATIVES.
These changes are hardly earth shattering but they’re slowly adding up to a daily life that I’m more excited about and engaged in than ever.

17 fun little ways to get out of a rut

1. Order a new hot beverage

Let’s talk tea. Or cider. Or an Americano. I’ve been surprising my barista every time I order something other than ‘a large cup of light roast for here.’

2. Buy a Groupon for a new restaurant in your neighborhood and order something you’ve never had

I frequent the same three restaurants in my neighborhood week after week. Why not pop over to Groupon, type in that zip code and buy the cheapest option you can find. You’ll keep money in your neighborhood, support a small business, and maybe find your new favorite hang out. (Earn good karma points by writing a positive review if you loved it!)

3. Construct an outfit around one of your closet orphans

You know what I’m talking about. Those cute pieces you never wear, gathering wrinkles at the back of your closet. Move them to the front and create an outfit around ‘em. And if you still don’t like them? Set aside a few hours for a closet clean-out.

4. House swap with friends for the weekend

I house swapped with a friend in L.A. a few years ago and it was woooonderful! But you can swap with a friend somewhere a lot closer to home. It’s fun spend the weekend anywhere new – even if it’s just an hour and a half away! See if any of your Facebook friends are keen to switch homes for a long weekend and then get to know a new city.

5. Take a different route (or type of transportation) to work

What if you took side streets instead of the highway? What if you took the train or the bus? Or your bike? You’ll meet new people and see new parts of your city from the back of a bike or a train.

6. Try out a new hairstyle

I’ve pretty much go two hairstyles – Kardashian-y and straight. But when I wear it twisted up and around? Or with a scarf? Or a hat? I feel like a totally different person.

7. Ask your boss if you can come in/leave early or vice versa

If you’re accustomed to a 5:50 am alarm or finishing work at 7 pm, life feels totally different when your workday leans to the left by a few hours. See if your boss is willing to switch your hours around for a week and then enjoy the luxury of sleeping in or finishing work by 3:30.

8. Take a new class at your gym

Of course (of course!) I’m all about Zumba and Hip Hop classes. But I’m working up the nerve to try a spin class (terrifying!) or something involving kettlebells. Join me?

9. Read a magazine about a topic you know nothing about

Reading an entire book on a topic you know nothing about is a bit of an undertaking, but a magazine? You can do that. Knitting! Cats! Woodworking!

10. Go to open mic night

They’re free, fascinating, and a great way to support independent coffee shops/bars/cafes and artists. Most cities have multiple open mics every night – in Minneapolis, the Acme Comedy open mic night is awesome/hilarious/horrible/scary.

11. Listen to a new radio station 

Folks, I have recently become The Sort Of Person WHO LISTENS TO JAZZ. What?! 99% of the time I toggle between the hipster station and Top 40 but after hearing the same 10 songs on both stations I happened upon 88.5.
Just this one little change has made my drives calmer and exponentially more mellow. What would happen if you changed the media you consumed? What if you navigated away from drive time djs who make sexist comments and use sound effects?

12. Switch your part

Allofasudden my hair is full of body and my scalp is all “What are you even doing?!”

13. Swap out your bedding for something totally different

My BFF introduced me to The Wonder That Is Patterned Sheets. And then if you use different, but coordinating patterns? It’s like you’re tucking yourself into a design book. Of course, sheets can be expensive so I’m a big fan of thrifting them.
(Yes, I know some people find that vaguely disgusting but have you ever stayed in a hotel? Then you’ve slept on sheets that other people have slept on.)

14. Go to an international grocery store and buy a bunch of things you’ve never tried

One of my go-to brunch tricks is to bring ‘adventure fruit salad.’ I head to Sun Foods, buy all the fruit I can’t identify (and a few things I know everyone loves) cut it all up and toss it in a bowl. If you live in the Twin Cities, check out Cosetta’s Italian Market, Sun Foods, Awash Market, or Ikea’s market for Scandinavian treats.

15. Wear a new shade of nail polish, a new color of eyeliner, a new shade of lipstick

Did you know that purple eyeliner looks really lovely with brown eyes? Or that black nail polish can look professional? And I’m pretty sure that this lipstick will help me accomplish that coveted Who Me I’m Not Wearing Lipstick I’m Just Naturally Beautiful look.

16. Sit with someone you don’t know at lunch

Does every lunch break involve your work BFF and the same table by the window? What if you sat with Megan from accounting? Or Brandon from marketing? You might make a new buddy or get to sample those cupcakes Brandon’s always mowing.

17. Rent a car that’s totally unlike yours for the weekend

Slightly extravagant? Yes. Totally fun? Also yes. If you’re a minivan driver, experience the wonder of a zippy little Mini for the weekend. Rent a convertible for a weekend of leaf-ogling. Rent something with four-wheel drive and explore dirt roads. (Hotwire and AAA are great for car rental discounts!)
How do you get out of a rut? What little changes would you add to this list?
P.S. Want customized, 1-on-1 support creating a more interesting life? I do that!
Photo by Grace Ho on Unsplash

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  1. Rose Marie B

    What a great post! It's funny how we stick to our routines and then whine because our life is boring. I sometimes take a different route to work. It's not really quicker, I have to pay a toll but I get to see a pasture full of llamas as I drive down the highway! They make me smile…in springtime there are babies and during fall, the field is dotted with sunflowers. It's the little things – I try to remind myself of this every day.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I would ONE HUNDRED PERCENT pay a toll if it meant I got to see baby llamas!

  2. rebecca

    This is perfect! I have a month of NEW coming up in my Rebel Road Project and these are some great ideas!! Bookmarking! Thank lady, per usual, for utter radness. 🙂

  3. Lauren

    I've just signed up for an 8 week hula hoop course at a local burlesque studio…I get really bored with traditional workouts and hula hooping has always fascinated me so I thought what the hell! I'm pretty excited!

  4. Audrey Lin

    #16 would probably have to be the hardest for me to do, but I'm happy to say that I think I'm making progress! I just started my freshman year of college and I'm still trying to get used to everyone being busy everywhere, so I never know when to expect to hang out with them. Sometimes I go to the dining hall with people, sometimes I go myself, sometimes I bump into people I know, and sometimes I join some kindly looking strangers 🙂 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

  5. Francine from Callaloo Soup

    This post is so timely for me, as I have been grumpy about getting back to our regular routines after a fantastic summer vacation in Barbados. Yesterday to shake things up a bit, I took my son to a cafe for his snack (ok, I had a muffin too). I'm planning on starting to wear lipstick again this Fall, something I haven't done in years! Also #13 made me cackle, because I am currently sleeping on bedding I thrifted this past weekend. We are huge thrifters! 🙂

  6. Teleri

    Some month ago a (drunken) friend said to (drunken) me: You always wear your part in the middle. Why?
    My answer was: Because I look stupid having it on the side. I'll show you on monday!
    Well.. It didn't look as stupid as I remembered. In fact I liked it so much that I hardly wear it in the middle nowadays. Number of hairstyles increased by 50 percent.

  7. Meg

    These are such inspiring ideas! Thanks for once again reminding me why I love reading your blog. I'm excited to give some of these a try. It really is the little things!

    By the way, if you're breaking into jazz, you need to check out Jane Monheit. She is a dream! Bonus: when you're a fan of jazz, concert tickets are like $30. And you get to meet the artist and get your stuff signed!

  8. Shane Prather

    Absolutely wonderful tips for this stage of change in my life in Australia!

  9. Catherine

    So many amazing ideas here, I love it! Definitely going to have to try a few of these out. Actually just changed my working hours last week and can't believe what a difference it's made to my day, so can't wait to see what differences some of the others will make!

  10. Stephanie Cage

    I like taking a different walking route or a different drive to work every now and then, and trying a new restaurant or beverage is definitely fun. Even more fun is asking to tag along with a friend to a class or event they attend regularly – you get to do something out of the ordinary without the fear factor of walking into a room alone!

  11. Tara

    In all fairness, that Candy Apple lipstick in the actual *BEST*, so I don’t blame you!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      IT IS SO GOOD.

  12. Lacey

    As someone whose religion is “Black Honey Lipstick” I would highly, highly, highly recommend it. It’s moisturizing! It’s subtle! It layers! It can be applied without a mirror! It’s slim to fit in tiny clutches! I have 50+ lipsticks hanging out on my makeup table right now but Black Honey will always be my ride or die.

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