Last winter my wife and I invested in a treadmill. We knew that with the Denver climate, we needed to find a way to stay in shape year round, and that sometimes running outside wasn’t an option. Our bouts of snow, several times having dropped a foot or more, make that difficult. The neighborhood gym is close but between their business hours and our kids schedules, we’re limited in the time we could go there.
Which made the treadmill a great investment for both of us. We can walk early morning while the kids are still sleeping, or get in a quick run while the youngest is down for a nap.
It very quickly became a part of my daily routine. It was habit. The alarm went off and I would hop on the treadmill.
But soon that habit turned into a rut. I knew what to do, and my body adapted to the expectation. Every day I ran the same pre-loaded 3.57 mile track. Every day, the incline was the same. Everyday, the speed was the same.
At first, it challenged me and I became a better runner. Then, it challenged me because I’d grow bored. I knew exactly how much energy I needed to expend. I even started to complain because I didn’t feel like I even could run farther. My body learned to store up just enough to get me through, and nothing else.
Then, when the weather turned nicer, I was able to change things up. I went outside.
That first day outside my body was out of it’s normal routine. It was forced to adapt. And a funny thing happened: I ran both farther and faster than I had in a long time.
For one, I was filed my the joy of being outside.
But just as important, I was put into a new situation and given the chance to grow.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] To experience a new thing, whether an experience or a change, we have to put ourself in a new situation. [/pullquote]
It was that shift, from feet on the treadmill to feet on the ground that forced my body to adapt, change, and ultimately grow.
In our own growth, we can often experience the rut I was in on the treadmill. We talk about how we want to grow in our leadership capacity, have a strong relationship with our spouse, or develop a deeper spiritual routine. But we don’t, and often it’s because we keep doing the same thing.
If you’re spiritual life is stuck in a rut reading your Bible for ten minutes a day, what won’t get you out of the rut is reading ten minutes a day.
If you’re marriage relationship is lacking because you’re too busy to have time for your spouse, what won’t fix the problem is remaining too busy for dates and significant time with them.
If you want to grow as a leader, but never expose yourself to new opportunities to lead, new ideas to stretch yourself, or new opportunities to learn a new skill, you’ll continue to be the same leader you’ve always been.
What breaks of free of our ruts and routines is our ability to stretch ourselves. To take an honest assessment of where we are now, where we would like to be, what relationship we’d like to have, or what impact we’d like to leave, and then taking the steps to get us there.
Don’t settle for ruts, but put your feet to new opportunities and experience all that God, and this life, has in store for you. Find new and exciting ways to break free.
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