Feeling Stuck? Check Out 7 These Tips to Get Off Your "Hamster Wheel"

The fast pace of life these days and routine activities can lead us to feeling stuck or as if we were on a perpetual hamster wheel. Learn how to identify when you're feeling stuck and get out of your hamster wheel here!
Feeling Stuck? Check Out 7 These Tips to Get Off Your "Hamster Wheel"
Leticia Martín Enjuto

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Leticia Martín Enjuto.

Written by Jonatan Menguez

Last update: 06 October, 2023

Work routine, consumerism, and fear of taking risks for personal desires can lead to a stagnation known as “hamster wheel”. This is a state of standby, where life goes by without much excitement, while motivation fades. Find out how to identify the situation and what can be done to change it.

What is it and what does it mean to be in the “hamster wheel”?

The term is a metaphor that represents the wheels where hamsters run without getting anywhere and without being able to get out. Transferring it to different situations of contemporary human life, it’s a feeling that can occur in various aspects. For example, an unproductive routine at work, a stagnant love relationship, or a lack of personal development.

Work habits are a very common way of getting, little by little, on the “hamster wheel”. Schedules, fixed routines, and the comfort zone, economically, form traps that become difficult to get out of. This may be the personal desire for development.

However, for many people, the only thing that ties them to their work is the economic need and the comforts they have, which leads them to postpone their dreams and real objectives. Therefore, it’s essential to identify in which aspect of life you find yourself on the wheel since this is the first step toward a positive change.

7 tips to get off the hamster wheel and get unstuck

Recognizing the emotional state and the obstacles that keep us in the “hamster wheel” is an important step to start going down. It doesn’t have to be an abrupt change: sometimes, it’s enough to generate new habits or spaces for reflection and self-knowledge. Here are seven tips to get out of the unproductive routine.

1. Slow down

The current pace of life is leading to a constant demand for productivity. It’s clear that you need money to live, but it’s useless if you sacrifice your mental health. Generating moments of relaxation, leisure, and – of course – unproductivity, is extremely valuable to slow down the pace and then come back recharged.

There are activities whose only objective is fun and not the generation of economic or labor benefits. Each person has his or her particular moments to disconnect, but it’s recommended to generate quiet, relaxed environments and, if possible, without the constant intervention of a cell phone.

2. Get creative

One of the best actions to distract and connect with oneself is to perform activities related to creativity. Writing, painting, or DIY creations all stimulate the imagination.

3. Get back in touch with old friends or seek new relationships

Many people focus on repetitive routines that take them away from social interactions. Especially those who work alone. Therefore, it’s advisable to reconnect with people you find yourself becoming distanced from in addition to seeking new relationships outside of social networks.

4. Change up your work routine

It’s very likely that the “hamster wheel” may be a job that you haven’t quit due to various fears. This is a complex case, where usually you wait for the right moment that never comes.

It’s important to take courage and accommodate other sectors of life, to make it possible. However, the moment is never completely ideal. There will always be risks and uncertainty: when the situation is unbearable, you have to take momentum and face the decision.

6. Save money to get off the hamster wheel and get unstuck

One of the main fears of changing the work routine has to do with finances. There are different strategies so that the decision is not rushed and is supported, for example, with extra income generated from another activity.

This, in addition to the backup money, promotes self-confidence. On the other hand, think about which of your purchases are truly necessary and limit them for a while.

6. Face setbacks

When taking risky actions, setbacks can always arise. It’s essential to face them and not turn back, which would mean returning to the “hamster wheel”.

7. Have clear objectives

The more visible the goals are, the more convincing the path to habit change will be. Set short and medium-term goals, trusting in your own abilities to achieve them.

How do you know if you’re on the “hamster wheel”?

There are several reasons why you can get on the wheel. However, most of them fall into habits and fears which, in turn, are the main obstacle to getting out. Therefore, the first action to identify it is to make an internal reflection on our daily activities and ask ourselves some key questions.

Some possible reasons are the following:

  • Feeling stagnation in personal development.
  • Having an automatic and not very exciting job.
  • Having a personal relationship that never seems to improve.
  • Wanting to change something, but not doing it out of fear of financial needs.

In addition, it’s important to ask ourselves if we’re truly doing the activities we want to do, if we have clear objectives, or if we feel demotivation and a lack of desire.

Push yourself to get off the hamster wheel

It’s true that big changes are not easy. Any aspect of life that crosses over the “hamster wheel” requires courage and exposure to certain risks in order to be transformed. However, once we have identified our own wheel, as time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to get off.

Therefore, it’s worth asking ourselves, at the end of the day, if we’re willing to change our perspective and modify this stagnant situation. If you don’t dare to make any deep transformations out of fear, remember to follow the advice to do it in a gradual and planned way. Facing setbacks and defining achievable goals is fundamental to getting off the wheel.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.