“Groundhog Day” Rut What To Do When You’re Stuck

“Ok campers, rise and shine! — and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooooold out there today.” Please tell me you know this classic.

“Groundhog Day,” the movie finds poor Phil Connors (played by the dry and delightful Bill Murray) forced to wake up reliving each day, every moment. Over and over and over again.

When I think of Groundhog’s day I don’t think of a largish rodent predicting the weather. I think of waking up with a foreboding sense of deja vu. The same song wakes you up every morning. You are in the car on the way to work or dropping the kids off to school without knowing how you got there. The outfits change but the kids remains the same.

You can feel the rut closing in on you.

I sharply remember the moment my same song woke me up and I didn’t move. I was 15 years into my career. I didn’t need to prepare a plan for the day. I could greet the kids, start a circle activity, and have them ready for breakfast. I could do it on autopilot. But one day, I looked around and and I was halfway through the year and the kids names were blending with kids of years past.

I lay in bed for an hour, paralyzed. When I finally was able to move I arranged a week-long stand in. And nothing. I did nothing at all.

I’ve watched “Groundhog Day” 50 times? Maybe more? Why would I do that? Obviously I have a crush on 80’s movies but certainly watching someone relive eight years worth of a single day (a super fan figured that out, wowsers) should be torturous.

“Groundhog Day” should be torturous but the answer, of course, to its re-watchability is redemption. Watching, painfully at times, visible steps to enlightened purpose and generosity are downright inspiring. Eventually, Phil recognizes self-destructive behaviour is pointless and replaces it with self-improvement and selfless service, releasing him from the “rut”.

That dismal day I needed a journey. I needed something more than a vacation or rest. I needed inspiration. And after a week of self-loathing and chocolate ice cream and a final day of true self-reflection, I got to work. My next working Monday wasn’t perfect but I was smiling. I saw glimmers of a better me…hell, I got up! I won the day!

So here is the first taste in a lesson plan. (You can take the teacher/childcare worker out of the classroom, but you can’t take the learning outcomes out of her blog.) I came up with that after my week-long “Rut Release” camp. It’s been added to and edited over the years but I believe this can help any educator feeling the Groundhog Day blues. I believe it’s a perfect solution. Because…well frankly you are here reading this blog. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t ready.

Change your routine

You can see and have identified the rut. Now what? Here’s what! Humans are creatures of habit. And in many ways, habits are helpful, freeing up our brain to think and do other things. Unfortunately, that can also leave our brain calcified.

LUCKILY, action can push the brain to change emotion. So incorporating even small changes in the details of your day can wake up your brain to feeling something different. This is your classic “fake it ‘till you make it” philosophy and its a philosophy because it works. Here are some ideas that worked for me:

Get ready backwards. Be reasonable here, underwear first, but try eating before you shower or shower before you eat. But eat in your bathrobe. It seems ridiculous but I dare you not to smile.

Say yes! Be reasonable here, we are all overworked. I was an overworked early childhood educator. But if an opportunity (out of your comfort) zone knocks on your door, BE SPONTANEOUS and open it. I did and I am living my best joy filled life.

Be brave and talk to someone new. Be reasonable here as well and please don’t get kidnapped. But we’ve established humans need habit and naturally form routine, good or bad. News FLASH! They need human connection more. I know, I know, part of your problem is the social over-stimulation of little people. But what I’m talking about is age appropriate adult conversation. Schedule it into your day if you have to. It will make all the difference.

You can see more of my Rut Release lesson by joining CBMB Academy but being purposeful in your career and more importantly, your self-care is a daily choice. So, as always, stay inspired and think about how you can “get ready backwards” each day.

I can love what I do. Come with me as we make that choice together. I’m 23 years in now. My morning song is the same. And it’s beautiful.

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