Stuck in a rut?

Whenever I need some inspiration, it helps to step away from my desk and look at things from a different perspective. I get my best ideas when I am running or walking in the countryside, breathing the fresh air, stretching my legs and enjoying the view. As soon as I am outside, the synapses in my brain that were previously tired and uninspired seem to find a new spark. Suddenly I know the right solution for a tricky translation, the ultimate gift for a friend’s birthday, even a fresh idea for a blog post.

One day when I was running around the fields, I noticed that I was skipping between the two ruts in the path, because the one I was running in always seemed to be full of obstacles – long grass, muddy ground and rabbit holes. By contrast, the parallel track always looked much easier to navigate. Funnily enough, as soon as I hopped over to the other side, it turned out to be just as challenging to run on as the first one. I skipped between the two tracks for a while and started to think about it in a more figurative sense, thanks to the revived activity of the synapses, no doubt.

Sometimes it can be tempting to glance at how other people fare from the side and believe that they have it somewhat easier or that they are more successful, and you may find yourself thinking: I wish I could be ‘running in their rut’. But just imagine for a moment that you were – is it really that much easier? They may be better off, but perhaps there are areas of their life that are harder than in yours: a difficult relationship, a chronic illness or other worries that you are not aware of.

Just as I came to the conclusion that the other track was as tricky to navigate as the one I was running on, I realised what an illusion it is to think that someone else could have it easier. And just as I decided to choose one track and stick with it instead of hopping back and forth and expending even more energy, it dawned on me that it may be a good idea to concentrate on my path and do my best to tackle it instead of being distracted by the way other people tackle theirs.

That afternoon I could suddenly relate to the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side, or as they say in German: the cherries in your neighbour’s garden are always sweeter (die Kirschen in Nachbars Garten schmecken immer süßer). Of course, it is not wrong to get some inspiration from the way other people go about their business. It does not mean, however, that they don’t have their own obstacles to overcome.

So, by all means, if you feel stuck in a rut, hop over and try out the other one. But don’t be too surprised if it turns out that the path you were on is just right and worth persevering. Maybe you just need to step outside and take a brisk walk to fire up your synapses.

What do you do when you need a little bit of inspiration? I’d love to hear where you get your best ideas!