Get Out of a Rut and Into the Life You Want: 5 Tips for Overcoming Timewasting Soft Addictions

Are you wondering how to get out of a rut? Do you feel like you’re stuck in life? Eating too much? Watching too much TV? Shopping? Procrastinating?

Many of us fall into these time-wasting habits, or what we like to call soft addictions. These little activities add up to feeling stuck, bored, unfulfilled, or just plain blah. Wondering if you’re addicted to timewasters? Take this soft addictions quiz.

Is it time to break out of your bad habits? Before you doomscroll through your social media feed again or decide what to binge on Netflix next, consider these 5 tips to get out of a rut and overcome soft addictions!

Why We End Up Addicted to Timewasters

We’ve all turned to soft addictions at one point or another. Soft addictions are habits that seem harmless enough at first. Maybe there’s a little puzzle game you like to play on your phone at night. Maybe you enjoy shopping for items online that you never really intend to buy. Or perhaps you find yourself saying yes to dessert every time you hit the lunch cafeteria.

The truth is, there’s nothing really wrong with these little activities now and again. Watching a good movie is one of life’s great pleasures. Social media can be an easy way to stay connected with far-off family and friends. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying ice cream or chips.

When soft addictions become a problem is when they start to rob us of time, money, energy, and the happiness we long for. We start to spend so much time “escaping” into these seemingly harmless habits that we don’t have time for the activities that really bring us joy, contentment, and connection.

For example, we might go out with friends but find ourselves scrolling through our phones to read up on Twitter instead of engaging and being present with the people around us. Or we might spend time and money that we don’t have shopping online, only to find that the temporary high wears off quickly and we don’t even like what we bought.

Soft addictions become a way to escape and a way to distance ourselves from real life, where the engagement REALLY happens.

It can feel safe to stay in our shell and follow our routine—come home from work, microwave dinner, prop up our feet, and scroll through TV channels, but after a short time, it starts to feel like we’re stuck. We need to get out of a rut and that means training ourselves to engage in new habits.

When we want more time, more excitement, and more fulfillment, it’s time to take a hard look at the activities that are robbing us of those precious moments. Here are 5 tips to help us get out of a rut and back into life.

5 Tips to Overcoming Your Soft Addictions

In the book The Soft Addiction Solution, we explain that our timewasting habits are normal, human, and might even feel really good in the moment. When we engage in many activities, it can almost mask as self-care. We may think, “I’m finally taking a moment to chill and relax,” or, “I work so hard all day that I deserve to come home and do nothing at night.”

But what is that chill time costing you?

1. Tell yourself the truth about your soft addictions.

One of the hardest steps to get out of a rut is making the first move. We have to be honest with ourselves and that means, realizing that we may not feel like our soft addictions are destructive. We may feel like we deserve to indulge. We may feel a little guilty, but we tell ourselves we’re just too tired to deal with it right now. We’ll change tomorrow, or next week, or after the new year.

While most of us minimize, hide, or deceive ourselves about our bad habits, if we want to get out of a rut and start to make changes, we have to get real. We have to be truthful if we want to set ourselves free. We need to take an honest look at our time-sucking activities. What are our soft addictions? Do we overeat? Oversleep? Do we find that we’re addicted to too much internet? Do we spend too much time gossiping about others or fixating on what our coworkers, neighbors, or classmates are doing? Write down those bad habits and above all, be honest.

2. Get Support.

Almost any behavior change requires support. If we’re engaged in harder addictive habits like drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol, we might recognize that we need help and support to change those behaviors. Soft addictions can feel easier to control. We may find ourselves thinking, “I could quit whenever I want, but I don’t want to right now.”

But if we feel stuck in a rut, then it’s time for a change. No matter what the habit is that we want to break, accountability is one of the most important factors. That means, speaking up and telling others about the change—request allies in your fight!

It’s surprising how much support we can receive when we speak up and ask for what we need. We may discover that we aren’t alone in our soft addiction and many other people are struggling with the same less-than-healthy habits.

3. Examine your feelings.

Once we figure out which soft addiction we want to tackle, we need to address the feelings that are leading us to turn to that timewaster. Sometimes when we feel uncomfortable with an emotion—like anger, sadness, fear, or hurt, we might turn to snacks or distractions to help us zone out and avoid those feelings.

Soft addictions give us a temporary boost, but the problem is that the boost doesn’t last and oftentimes, it can compound feelings like shame or disappointment, because we feel worse after. When we think the only thing that will make us feel better is a chocolate chip cookie, we can stop and think about how we’re feeling. Are we really feeling sad? Angry? Hurt? Before we reach for the soft addiction, we can tell someone how we’re feeling and start to express our emotions in a productive way.

4. Celebrate success.

If we want to get out of a rut, we have to celebrate the little steps along the way. Maybe we ate two donuts this week instead of three. Maybe we exercised for the first time after avoiding the gym for six months. Maybe we went for a walk in the fresh air rather than hitting “play” on the next episode on Netflix. Whatever it was, celebrate it!

One of the most powerful tools for successful change is celebrating success in any fashion. We get a little mood boost (that we would get from indulging in our bad habits). Better still, we start making new, better habits at the same time. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up because our accomplishment seems small or insignificant compared to the goal. Celebrate each success along the way, no matter the size!

5. Learn the skills you need.

If we’re stuck in a rut, we might feel unfulfilled, blue, tired, less healthy, or down about ourselves. There’s no quick fix that will instantly give us a meaningful, fulfilling, healthy life. It takes incremental steps and a sustained effort over time. It’s one of the situations where the joy is truly in the journey.

Each step we start to discover and build skills we will need to propel ourselves forward on the path. Look at each moment as a learning experience—what can we take away from this situation? What can we use from this moment to help us again down the road? What did we discover about ourselves?

If you want to overcome your soft addictions, take the steps to recognize what they are, and start making the change today. Explore the Soft Addiction Solution for more tips on how we can kick time wasters and start to fill our lives with juicy, exciting, joyful experiences that help drive our sense of meaning and purpose.

If you’re looking for more ideas on living a life of MORE, visit Wright Now. We offer many different courses and resources to help you get more from your career, your relationships, and your life. Today is the day to get MORE out of your life! Don’t wait!


About the Author

Judith Wright receives the Visionary Leader Award from Chicago NAWBO.

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation’s performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Harnessing Intention:
Embracing Your
Authenticity and Experience

On October 17th, 2015, I had the opportunity to lecture at our Men’s Basic Training, at Art Silver Center on the Wright Graduate University Campus in Elkhorn, WI. I’d like to share some of the highlights and background that stemmed from this inspiring and rousing session.

—Dr. Bob Wright (Source: “Harnessing Intention.” Lecture, Men’s Basic Training, Art Silver Center, Wright Graduate University Campus, Elkhorn, WI, Oct. 17, 2015.)

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre talked about man’s great freedom and individual experiential journey. Throughout his philosophy he discussed approaching life as a project, harnessing your intent and embracing your authenticity and experience—in other words, your journey.

Climb Your Mountain All the Way to the TOP

He likened this Life Project to a mountain. Whether the mountain is law or medicine or business, some hike a path up to a stream, they view things along the way, then go back and report, “I’ve been to the mountain and it was lovely.” Yet, they have not “climbed the mountain.” Others go up to the tree line, they look out at the surroundings, and they go back. They have not climbed the mountain.

There are very few that make it to the very pinnacle of the mountain—that tackle their Everest. The mountain becomes romanticized, lofty and unattainable.

When it comes to our own Life Projects, making money is the easy part. We’ve all got a few irons in the fire and at least one area that we’re working on, but very few of us will max out the journey and make it to the peak.

Harnessing your intentionality, dedicating yourself to your vision, choosing and being cognizant to handpick the next challenge—that will get you to your peak. Many people get out of Harvard, Wharton or another big-name college and think they’ve already reached the top of their mountain, but they’re still way back at the first stream….they haven’t even made it to the tree line. They walk out of school with an MBA or PhD and expect the world to be at their beck and call. They expect that climb to be an easy elevator ride to the top.

Then you have those who’ve had some success—they’ve made it to that first forest and beyond. They’ve made some money and they have it in the bank…and then they spend the rest of their life hording and protecting it, never pushing themselves to keep going and growing.

At Wright Living, we get these falsehoods shaken up and cracked as we go along. There’s a new approach to the mountain, which is in embracing the climb, the struggle and enjoying the Life Project as a journey. We delight in the good fight, the conflict, the engagement and the new experience that comes along the way.

Our entire research is about learning to embrace this conflict, delight in this fight, and stop feeling sorry for ourselves, licking our wounds. It’s about pride in the battle scars and taking up these marks, and supporting each other in harnessing the strength of experience and wounds.

We create this community of life-long learners who view the Life Project in the same way—who are willing to embrace the fight with us. They will continually go to the next challenge, ready to tackle it and overcome the fear.

This intentionality is critical—to understand our fear and still stand up in the face of disaffirmation. It’s about embracing life and going out to meet it as you climb higher on your journey.

When you meet a master, a winner—Pablo Casals, one of the finest cellists at 87 years old or golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus—you realize that people who are on top of their game are willing to stretch themselves. They are highly competitive. They push themselves, and still they practice every single day. They love what they’re doing and they understand their drive and motivation. They embrace it and allow it to propel them forward.

When you study students who learn instruments early on or great athletes who have aptitude toward their sport, yes, some of that is skill but more of it is drive. If they put in the hours and the time and practice and hone their craft, they can harness their intent and use it as a springboard for success.

The question you need to ask yourself today is: Who is the person I want to be? Are you willing to settle for viewing the trees, then turning around and saying, “Well, that was a lovely mountain,” or do you want to go all the way?

As Plato said, “We live in a cave, just seeing a vision of the outside world from the light leaking in.” Realizing your vision and gaining a full understanding of your Life Project will push you to your peak. You will engage, embrace your conflict and let go of fear. You will push yourself through in ways you didn’t think possible and continue to tackle life with intentionality and the support of others who are focused on making it to their peak as well. It’s a journey we will take together.

If you want to know more about how to work on your own social and emotional intelligence and growth, join us for our next More Life Training. Don’t miss our transformative high-value weekend. [Click here to learn more!]

Want to boost your career? If you’d like to learn more about what the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential has to offer check out:

Want to improve your sales? The Wright Sales Program is a hands-on, experiential program that provides sales professionals with an opportunity to boost their sales performance through the application of social and emotional intelligence to their selling techniques. [Learn more!]

About the Author


Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.