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Last Updated on March 19, 2019

Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!

Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!

In my 15 years at Lifehack, I’ve come across many concerns and problems that readers have written to me about, in hopes of finding answers and advice. A common one I receive time and again, is readers asking for help on how to get unstuck in life, or how can they stop feeling stuck.

It’s quite a broad question if you think about it. Unstuck in what aspect of your life? And just how stuck are you?

You may be at a point in life where you’ve reached a wall or crossroad, and you don’t know how to progress forward. You don’t know what your next steps are. A total career change? A promotion with more responsibilities you’re not sure you’re ready to take on? Not ready to get married or to have kids? Not sure if you should carry on with your full time job or become a stay home parent to devote your time fully to the kids?

Or have you found yourself in a situation where you just want to get out of it, but can’t seem to? Have you been at this job for 10 years now, and you don’t see yourself progressing and don’t feel challenged at work? Do you not look forward to going to work, yet you can’t find the courage to quit because you’re too comfortable or perhaps afraid? Or are you not sure if you can find something better and if the risk is worth taking? And so you end up putting that thought on hold and on hold and on hold…

How Stuck Are You?

And, there are also different levels of feeling stuck.

Some could be feeling stuck only temporarily, whilst others could be feeling stuck for months or even years. Often, as time passes, the feeling of being stuck intensifies when nothing is being done or changes.

And ultimately, some people end up settling, or just resigning to their fate. Subconsciously, without even realizing it, they end up pushing their dreams and goals further and further away.

For others, the feeling of being stuck becomes so unbearable that they have to make changes. They have to get out of the situation, and so they make those life changing decisions in hopes of finally feeling free and unstuck.

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So how is it that we even end up feeling stuck in life? Take some time to recall an instance when you were feeling that way. When you felt trapped and stuck, as if there was absolutely nothing you could do to turn things around, do you know how that happened as you think back now?

Why Do We Feel Stuck?

There are many reasons for why we end up feeling stuck in life. Sometimes, it’s because we’re too afraid of taking risks or making mistakes. We play it so safe that we do end up living ‘risk free’ lives, but they also end up being uneventful or unsatisfying, which leads to us feeling stagnant or stuck.

Here are some common reasons for feeling stuck:

You Don’t Know What You Want

You may feel stuck if you don’t really know what it is that you want in life. You don’t have concrete goals or dreams to work towards.

Even though you may be hustling at work everyday, getting on with your roles and responsibilities, you ultimately don’t feel fulfilled.

There’s always something missing, and so you feel stuck, trying to figure it out.

You’re Not Getting Help

You could also be feeling stuck because you’re not getting enough support or help. You’ve only been relying on yourself to solve problems. After a while, there’s only so much you can do on your own.

You need fresh perspective, advice and support from others; whether they be mentors, counselors and coaches, your elders or loved ones.

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Influence is a good source of inspiration and motivation. If you surround yourself with peers or mentors who have succeeded or achieved goals and dreams in their lives, then you’ll likely be influenced positively.

You’ve Been Chasing the Wrong Objectives

It could just be that you’re feeling stuck because you’ve been giving yourself false objectives. You see what others have and you start comparing.

Your colleague just got a promotion while you’re still at the same spot. Your best friend just got engaged, and here you are, still single with time ticking fast away. Your friends are buying luxury watches, bags and shoes, but you can hardly afford to pay off your credit card bills every month.

Comparing is one of the worst things anyone could ever do, because it often leads to extreme feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

You start questioning your life, and that’s how the feeling of being stuck arises because you don’t feel adequate compared to your peers. You don’t feel as accomplished.

While this may sometimes be a good force to push you towards working harder, it can also become a huge demotivator when the wrong objectives are being compared.

How Do You Get Unstuck?

The list of reasons why we feel stuck in life goes on, but the good news is that it is possible to get out of whatever rut you’re in. It starts with accepting where you are right now and being willing to take a step out of your situation.

Feeling stuck is, only a feelinga state of mind. Which means that it is possible to get out of that feeling once you make necessary changes or actions in your life.

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If you’re feeling stuck because of false objectives or a lack of objectives, then the first thing you can do is to start setting some realistic and achievable goals. Whether it is in relation to your career or personal life, make sure the goals that you think about from here on are meaningful and truly matter to you.

Choose goals that align with who you are at the core, and work toward goals that align with your inner strengths and gifts. This will help you maximize your potential and minimize the stuck and frustrated feelings.

Once you’ve set the right objectives that are true to you, you’ll start to realize that the motivation to achieve them comes much more naturally.

If you’ve been feeling stuck because you’re afraid of even taking a step or risk, then I’d urge you to stop and just take the plunge!

While breaking out of your daily routine can be uncomfortable, it can be a great way to change your life around. Playing it safe doesn’t always mean not taking risks, and stepping out of your comfort zone almost always bring about better changes in a person’s life. Fear should not be seen as a negative thing, in fact it can be a powerful tool to push you towards becoming a better you!

Always remember that you’re never alone. There are so many avenues of getting help and advice these days. Especially in this digital age we live in, we’re more connected than ever before. No matter what area of your life you’re feeling stuck in, chances are, someone’s been through it. So whether it’s talking to your loved ones, seeking professional help, or even going on sites like this, seeking help is a powerful and affirming act. Many people continue to feel stuck often because they never actively ask for help.

The Power of Transformation

Feeling stuck is never a nice situation to be in. Yet more often than not, it is possible to get out of that situation once you’re able to transform your mindset and start taking action.

Whether it’s wanting to get out of an unfulfilling job or toxic relationship, move up the career ladder or find more meaning in life, it is going to require more than one change.

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What do I mean by that?

You don’t just embrace fear as what I’ve mentioned–to quit your job and that’s it, victory! You’re not going to be unstuck just like that. Sure, you may feel a temporary feeling of relief, but if you don’t make other changes in your life, chances are you’re going to end up feeling stuck or trapped again after sometime.

So if you want a lasting change, one that will allow you never to be in a situation of feeling stuck in life again, then you’ll need to master the 7 Cornerstone skills for a total transformation.

These aren’t exactly new skills to you either. You simply just haven’t connected the dots enough or sharpened them deep enough to use them to your advantage. These 7 Cornerstone Skills are what’s going to truly help you get out of your rut no matter what the situation.

Tired of being stuck time and again? It’s time to resolve that permanently and start living out your best days. We’ve got the solution at Lifehack — Check out Our Solution Here!

Featured photo credit: Ben Hershey via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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