Everyone strives for that moment when all your hard work and dedication pays off and you can finally sit back and enjoy your work life. Everything gets a little bit easier and you can relish what you have achieved.

Taking time to enjoy your success is important. However, it's important not to get too comfortable for too long in any phase of your business. Before you know it, you may settle into a safe routine where you no longer strive to improve and grow, and you may miss critical opportunities. In essence, you may find that you can get into a rut with what you do and how you do it.

Sometimes the signs of being in a rut are not obvious. But there may be other warning signs--both emotionally and physically--that you should pay attention to. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You don't feel excitement for your work
  • You have trouble keeping your focus
  • You often feel tired and find it hard to get motivated to go into the office
  • You reminisce about the past, or
  • You don't think about your future

Being in a rut too long can be tough to escape from, but here are four tips on how to break free from maintenance mode and keep moving forward.

1. Revisit your goals--or make new ones.

Goals are like maps that interconnect. Sometimes we focus only on our business goals but don't step back to assess our personal purpose and how it fits into our business vision and goals. Taking a little time to assess why you do what you do will help you to identify if you have gone off track in your business.

If you find that you have gotten off track, you can compare your personal purpose to the direction your business has taken and note where you are out of alignment. If you find yourself drifting away from your original intention, it may be time to establish new goals.

2. Rediscover what inspires you.

What or who gets you excited? I've found that focusing my attention on something inspiring--even if it's not necessarily related to my business or goals--can spark my attention and drive. Often, it helps me to do activities outside of work that create a feeling of joy and happiness, like playing guitar. Being creative helps to inspire me and take that renewed energy back into my workday.

3. Ask for feedback.

When you are stuck, sometimes other people know how to nudge you. Reach out to a few colleagues and business associates and even close friends. Confide in them on how you are doing, what you feel your current strengths and weaknesses are, and your ideas on how you can improve. It may be tough to listen to honest feedback, but it may be just what you need. (As a payback, tell them you will do the same for them.)

I have some close friends--both personal and in business--who I trust with these types of conversations and who are outside of my work life. Since they have a unique perspective on me and my career, their advice often allows me to step back and rethink what I am doing and how to proceed.

4. Step away from it all.

The best way to gain a fresh perspective on your career is to step away for a while. Take a long vacation where you unplug from the world and enjoy some time to yourself. I've found that when you provide some distance from your life, you often can see everything a bit clearer.

I previously worked in a global role and found that many of my colleagues routinely take at least two weeks off for vacation. I was inspired, since I had never taken that much time off at once during my entire career. When I experienced this for the first time, I found it really did take a full week to unplug and that second week was pure relaxation. By the time I got back to work, I was refueled and ready to be creative again.

5. Learn something new.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should do something that frightens you every day. A great rut-buster is to take on a new challenge. Focus on something you have always wanted to do, especially if it's outside your comfort zone. Not only will you be stimulated from learning a new skill, but it reignites your motivation and demonstrates how you can accomplish anything--and that there is still much to do in your life.

When I first started yoga 15 years ago, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. I couldn't touch my toes or do many of the poses. At first, I compared myself to everyone else in the room, but gradually I learned to relax and enjoy the process of being a beginner again. Now I own my own studio, am an instructor, and incorporate many helpful yogic principles into the way I run and manage my business. But none of this would have happened if I hadn't found the courage to try yoga for the first time.

Everyone gets into ruts at times. But the best way to bust through them is to acknowledge when they occur and never ignore them. A rut can be a wake-up call and a golden opportunity for propel yourself toward a new, exciting direction.