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I’m Stuck! 7 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Stuck in Life

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I’m Stuck! 7 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Stuck in Life

Life can throw curve balls your way and challenge you even when the best of conditions have manifested in your life. Whether you are a middle-aged working parent, deep into your retirement, or somewhere in between, there are times when we all find ourselves saying “I’m stuck.”

I have a strong familiarity with this feeling of low energy levels, a lack of motivation to the point where getting out of bed can be a struggle that you are fighting each morning prior to work.

I often deal with my own struggles of feeling stuck when it comes to writer’s block. At times the words can flow out of me like lava gushing from an active volcano, but in other moments, my motivational levels and willingness to engage in thought feel absolutely dormant.

What are some of the tools or techniques that one could lean on in these moments where you just can’t seem to get out of the hole you feel stuck in?

One major emphasis that I’d like to make in discussing ways to beat that feeling of “I’m stuck” is that this feeling is extremely normal. We all will experience it at some point or another as we navigate this journey in pursuit of happiness.

Too many individuals experience this diminishment in encouragement and joy and allow it to alienate them from the people who care about them most. This brings me to the first step in beating that feeling of being stuck in life.

1. Embrace the Feeling of Being Stuck

You’ve got to recognize that this idea of “I’m stuck” is a natural feeling that we all experience whether in our work life, a relationship, or perhaps a scholarly pursuit or business endeavor.

You have to allow yourself to realize that life is hard and there will be days, weeks, or months when you don’t feel like you have enough fuel in the tank to push onwards and upwards.

Whatever obstacles you face that are giving you this inability to get excited about your weekly movements, you must first understand that these aren’t abnormal thoughts to have, and you aren’t alone in experiencing them.

If you can allow yourself that small but vital realization, then you will be well on your way to breaking out of the cycle of feeling stuck and unable to move forward in your life’s pursuit.

2. Identify the Source of Your Obstacles

Struggle is an obstacle that will never be fully gone no matter where you find yourself in life. We all have to face adversity at some point.

How you handle struggle, however, is going to be a key point in managing your emotions, temperament, and the overall outcome for your life as you try to regain your internal confidence and start breaking out of the mental chains that you’ve found yourself in.

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“We act like wind-up toys, repeatedly bumping into the same walls, never realizing there may be an open door just to our right or our left,” Susan David, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School, writes in her book, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.

Essentially, what Susan is saying, is that we often get stuck in a situation but continue the same approaches that got us stuck in the first place, instead of searching for an alternate path forward.

When you start saying “I’m stuck,” it’s time to start a full evaluation of your situation to try and better understand what the source of that feeling is.

If you are feeling stuck or in a rut, try to trace back in time and determine what got you in this mental headspace in the first place[1].

Maybe your office has a new boss who is more critical than the last, so you are feeling a lack of confidence. Perhaps you’re considering going back to school but are stressed about the cost. It could really be any number of things.

Knowing the why and working to understand the internal foundation for this moment of apathy will empower you to make the changes necessary to get out of that funk and begin your climb towards a more productive self.

3. Re-Organize Your Time

It can become all too easy to fall into a trap of negative routines or unhealthy habits that can contribute to that lull in your life where you just don’t feel like doing much at all.

In working to identify the root cause of being stuck, you should start evaluating how you utilize your time.

I often hear “I don’t have the time to work on [fill in the blank]” as an excuse to continue down a path of unproductive behavior that will only entrench the individual further into a hole that they never wanted to be in to start with.

For this reason, it is important to analyze your time usage. Create a budget for your time in the same way that you should have a budget for your finances.

I don’t just want you to make your time budget for what you want to accomplish in a week. I also think it’s important to create a time budget that accurately reflects your current week-to-week behavior.

Seeing how you are utilizing your time in the present moment might be eye opening if you have been over binging on Netflix shows, overly consumed with social media, or working yourself to death.

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By creating a time budget, you are establishing a plan that can help guide you through the moments when you’ve actually had enough and don’t feel as if you can continue onwards anymore. With more established schedule for how you will utilize your time, you can train yourself up to be more naturally productive and block those “I’m stuck” thoughts from getting to you again.

Take a look at this article to learn how to budget your time better: The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

4. Talk to Yourself Frankly

Don’t you find it interesting that we can often readily provide solid advice to a friend, family member, or co-worker without much reservation or issue, but when it comes to our own decisions, we often feel paralyzed and unable to make a decisive move?

I like to employ a strategy that I call talking to the mirror. Essentially, I try to step outside of my own internal monologue or perspective and give myself the sort of advice that I’m usually able to readily produce for a close friend or family member.

Often times, when I step outside of the confines of my own mind and feeling of being stuck, I’m able to better gauge my perspective and whether or not it’s healthy or realistic.

By committing to such an exercise, you have the potential to increase the success of reflecting on your path through life. You also potentially learn more about yourself and why you may be feeling trapped where you are.

According to authors Kross & Ayduk in their study of Focusing on the Future from Afar[2]:

“Prior research indicates that self-distancing enhances adaptive self-reflection about negative past events.”

Very much in line with the idea of “talking to the mirror,” you need to understand that it is important to treat yourself with the love and compassion that you deserve as a human[3]. People will quickly work to ensure others around them feel loved and cared for but neglect themselves in the process.

Dr. Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas drew the conclusion that “self-compassion involves treating yourself just like you would treat your friends or family members.”

When you say I'm stuck, use healthy self-talk.

    Much like the simple idea of treating others the way you’d want to be treated, it is key to have self-compassion and build yourself up with positive self-talk rather than viewing yourself only through a negative lens[4].

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    5. Distract Yourself a Bit When Necessary

    I spend a lot of my time in the creative areas of my mind, working hard to create original music for myself at home or even working on writing for my blog. It is a healthy release for me that allows me to step outside of my normal day-to-day operation and escape.

    If you are feeling stuck in a particular area of your life, try to step away from that area for a moment and refocus your attention on another area that gives life and energy.

    When I’ve been working on one song for many weeks at a time, it helps to try and write a new song or revisit an older track to shake things up and keep them fresh.

    We all have daily routines that can grow stale at times and leave us feeling frustrated. Shaking things up and finding new ways to distract your mind is a perfect way to break out of that mental cycle!

    If you find yourself at an impasse, and you can’t break off that inability to garner up motivation to continue forward, then taking a little side quest might be just the thing to get you back on course.

    It’s similar to an academic trying to solve an equation that just seems impossible to figure out. Sometimes, you have to step away and zoom out.

    Taking time to distract your mind with something new can give you that motivation to then revisit what was once feeling tired and worn out, and renew your passion to pursue it! If you’re thinking, “I’m stuck,” try taking on a new hobby, playing a sport, or trying out a new family activity. Who knows what will change your perspective.

    6. Turn That Productivity Up!

    Next, try to find ways you can productively utilize your time when you feel stuck in another pursuit.

    When I’m feeling trapped at work and unable to continue with the 40+ hour work weeks, I try to come up with some productive ways to use my time outside of work that give me something to look forward to.

    Sometimes that is as simple as playing with my daughter for an hour and letting go of the stresses and anxieties of work, even if for just a brief moment.

    Other times, I find projects to work on at the house, such as hiding the wires behind the TV or building a new side table for our bedroom. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that when I work to find more effective ways to spend my time, I feel more fulfilled and better prepared to handle the ups and downs of life.

    Productively using your time in the evenings after work helps to stave off any feelings of apathy or laziness that might lead you down the path of that all too familiar stuck feeling.

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    Keeping busy with productive things in and out of the workplace in moderation can be a great way to occupy your mind. It can also help you to establish better habits in your free time that will be more conducive to feeling like you can achieve your goals and experience new found levels of success and motivation.

    7. Look Back and Look Forward

    The last word of encouragement that I’d like to leave you with is to remember that no change comes fast in life. I wish it were as easy as saying, “1, 2, 3!”, snapping your fingers, and all of a sudden you feel like your best self.

    But like anything worth striving towards, breaking out of a funk in your internal perspective takes time, energy, and a strong support group of friends or family.

    If you attempt to break out of your feeling of “I’m stuck” but seem to be failing after a short amount of time, don’t give up. Keep working at it and keep trying to adopt a more positive attitude about your situation.

    I typically give myself at least 30 to 60 days to try and implement a new strategy within my approach to life. Then, I pause to evaluate my progress or lack thereof.

    The key to success isn’t just in the doing. It is also in the analysis of your actions prior to a change, during the adoption phase of a change, and after the change has started to take root in your life.

    If you fail to reflect on where you were, then you will miss out on important insights into your own path through life.

    Journaling can be especially useful in this area as you’ll be able to look back and see exactly where you were a week, a month, or a year ago. If you want to give it a try, check out this article.

    Final Thoughts

    We all move at different paces through life, and in doing so, we will all face struggles and moments where we just want to throw in the towel. I can’t emphasize enough that these moments are absolutely normal, and you are not alone in feeling this way!

    I hope that these steps help you to consider your own behavior and make the necessary adjustments to live a more fulfilled life. Instead of feeling stuck, you will feel empowered to be the best you that you can be!

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Yoann Boyer via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Colton Black

    Motivational Coach, Self-Help Blogger, Recording Engineer, Professional Dad

    15 Simple Things You Can Do to Boost Your Daily Motivation What the Road to Success Actually Looks Like in Reality I’m Stuck! 7 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Stuck in Life The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance) How to Identify and Leverage Your Personal Strengths

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    Last Updated on January 14, 2022

    17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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    17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

    Achieving work-life balance can be really tough. More and more people are reporting that managing their personal and professional lives has become more difficult.

    Longer working hours, more pressure to get things done quickly, more pressure to succeed and less personal time. Added together this combination of things creates more stress and plenty of daily struggles.

    But working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most.

    “I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles” — Zig Ziglar

    The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    What is Work Life Balance?

    When we talk about work life balance tips, we are not merely talking about the time aspect of your schedule. Work life balance is an inclusive approach towards all the facets of life that gives the utmost satisfaction and gives the feeling of fulfillment.

    Work life balance may have a different meaning in everyone’s life. To understand it better, consider all the things that are important to you. For example, work, friends, family, time you spend on hobbies, interests, etc.

    If you feel that you are compromising on any important facet of life, you do not have work life balance.

    There is a fine line of demarcation between personal and professional life. When you are able to bring an equilibrium between both sides, you get a perfect work life balance. It is a simple attitude towards your life where none of these sides supersedes the other when it comes to prioritization.

    Why Work Life Balance is Important?

    Many of us get into the thought trap where we feel as if we need to sacrifice a particular facet of life in order to achieve something. Unless we give up or compromise on something we love, we will not be rewarded with an achievement. Well, that’s actually never true!

    There is no need to compromise on anything or work longer to achieve something. It is just the mindset. Work life balance allows you to achieve everything in life and keeps you happy at the same time!

    We need to consider what would happen if we did not have a work-life balance to understand the importance!

    People focusing on limited facades of life end up feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. Our minds tend to focus on what we had to compromise rather than what we gained. It is a sad state of mind that leads to stress and sometimes mental issues brought about by anxiety.

    It is important to have a work life balance since it allows you to enjoy every moment of your being. You are left with enough time and energy for work, family, friends, me-time, or anything else that’s important to you! You get to enjoy everything and be happy with a proper work life balance!

    17 Work Life Balance Tips

    Here are 13 work-life balance tips you can implement right now to start living a more stress free life:

    1. Take More Rejuvenation Days

    When was the last time you took some time out from work to completely rejuvenate?

    One of the best ways to create an environment for future high productivity and creativity is to take yourself outside of the day to day and remove yourself completely from work-related activities.

    By taking time out for yourself, you will gain clarity on what’s most important, both now and in the future, and you will come back refreshed, energized and motivated. By taking more rejuvenation days, you are investing in yourself which naturally means you are creating more balance.

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    If you can take this day to yourself every month or two you will start seeing immediate results on all levels of your business and life.

    Now get your calendar out and mark down your rejuvenation days!

    2. Let Go of Fear

    Many people, be they entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders or managers worry that if they’re not working, or seen to be working every day, they may miss out on something important. The business may fail or they may not get that promotion or something. There’s always something. There is a sense that something bad could happen if not enough time was invested or “I could always be working on something else”.

    But, what if you believed you were good enough, you were achieving and doing something meaningful, and that you mattered?

    Once you have that belief and confidence, you can let go of the fear that there is ‘always more’. You will feel more joyful, productive, abundant and know that what you accomplished was good enough.

    This guide will help you get over your most irrational fears: How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

    3. Prioritize Your Day

    If you took a step back and looked at what’s on your to-do list, how many things are critical? How many things MUST be done that day?

    It all starts with a clear understanding of what your bigger and better future looks like. Are you planning a year ahead? Three years? Ten years? What are you working to achieve?

    Once you understand that, you can work back and create plans and goals that help you achieve your bigger objectives.

    You may build 90 day outcome goals, the things you really want to achieve in the next quarter and then lay out the process for getting there. From this plan you will understand your priorities and where your focused time should be.

    Don’t have 10 things on your list to complete that day. Focus on achieving just 3 or 5 important things every day. Achieve them and your motivation will go through the roof. Have too many and don’t complete them and your energy levels will drop.

    Lifehack’s CEO Leon has his unique way on how to prioritize: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Express Gratitude for What You Have

    Sometimes we are so busy working through and dealing with the day to day and having our mind in the future that we forget about the here and now, this present moment. I believe it’s essential to include proactive gratitude as part of everyday life, to actually look at everything in our lives and appreciate what we have.

    Many of us think of gratitude as reacting. Something happens or someone does something and you feel grateful. You say thank you, maybe send an email.

    But a far more proactive strategy for creating and living an abundant life is to actively find things you appreciate. This affects your own personal state of mind but also impacts others. You could send a handwritten card to the people you love or someone that means a lot to you.

    Try giving thanks for three things at the end of every day and see how this shifts your mood and mind-set.

    5. Learn to Say No

    It’s important to decide what you want to do, who you want to build relationships with and where you want to spend your time. We have so many requests made of us and so many opportunities to do different things that we end up saying yes to things that we really don’t want to do but feel we should do.

    Have the self-respect, confidence and courage to live life on your own terms and say yes only to the things that really matter. For everything else, start saying no.

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    When you are clear on who matters most and what matters most, you gain clarity on what and who is essential and who isn’t.

    Your time is scarce. When you start saying no to most things, you will become more focused and be completely present in everything you’ve said yes to.

    Leo Babauta has this guide on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    6. Have More Fun

    If you looked back at the last week, how much time did you spend just having fun? If it wasn’t much, then it’s time to change things up.

    Think about what gets you excited, think about the people you love spending time with. Jump into new things and new relationships. Take some risks, try something new, learn a new skill and start laying the groundwork for a big project you’ve always been putting off.

    If you need to get out of your comfort zone to have more fun, just do it. However, you want to change your life, having more fun keeps you energized and motivated.

    7. Start to Journal

    One of the biggest things that has helped me in my own personal growth and goal achievement is using my journal every day.

    This is the place to house my dreams. It is home to my creative thoughts and my thinking tools. It’s a place to escape to. It’s also a place to write down thoughts and notes on where I am right now — my thinking, my mind-set and my belief system.

    The habit of writing in my journal felt like a small step but has been transformative. It has become a routine that has affected other parts of my life.

    So, start keeping a journal. Commit to writing every day, even if it’s just for five minutes and see where your imagination takes you.

    Here’re some tips to kickstart journaling: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

    8. Create One Hour a Day to Think and Relax

    It’s amazing what we actually have time for, especially when we decide to really make time. I hear the phrase “I don’t have time” constantly. How about you change that mind-set and start dedicating one hour a day to yourself?

    One hour to work on yourself. One hour for reading. One hour to learn a new skill.

    The truth is we can all find time if it’s important to us. This one hour a day could help us become more creative and increase your energy and focus. Plus, you’ll increase your capabilities.

    9. Do One Thing You Love to Do Every Day

    As we get sucked into the whirlwind of the everyday, it’s all we can do just to get by. We often forget to do or enjoy the things that actually bring us the biggest amount of joy.

    One of the best ways to bring more balance back into your life is to recommit to do the things that give you the most pleasure. If you don’t have anything, I suggest you find something you’re passionate about. This could be reading, walking, meditating, learning an instrument or a language, or becoming a better cook or gardener.

    It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get joy from the experience. Try carving out time every day to do this one thing. Do it for 30 days and it will become a habit. Plus, it will help you reconnect with what you really care about.

    10. Create More Family Time

    This is an area that means a lot to me and was one of the reasons I set up my coaching business in the first place.

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    I have two young children and I wanted to see more of them and to spend more time with my family. I get to take them to school sometimes and am often home for ‘family dinner’ and bedtime stories. Having the freedom to do this is essential in how I run my business and how I help other entrepreneurs run their business.

    If you can create a bit of space to spend more time with the people that matter you will see a massive difference. Here’s a guide on How to Maximize Family Time with plenty of ways you can try immediately.

    11. Set Clear Goals

    Successful people are always guided by a vision of their future. To keep them on course and motivated setting clear goals, both long-term and short-term, allows them to achieve their biggest dreams.

    Setting specific and measurable goals gives you the best chance to transform how you work and live. They help you move forward and build momentum every single day. As Dan Sullivan says,

    “Your future is your property. If you don’t take ownership of it, others will be happy to do it for you.”

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

    12. Focus on Results, Not Time Spent

    Rather than thinking about working harder, focus your time and energy on achieving bigger results. By simplifying your areas of focus, you free up more time to live a more joyful and balanced life.

    It’s really easy to fall into the trap of doing countless activities that drain your energy and take you away from building momentum in moving your business forward. You are being pulled in multiple directions and don’t have enough time and often take on too many projects. This can often leave you drained, worried and uncommunicative at the end of the day.

    Remember, getting more things done means nothing when nothing great is done.

    By focusing on a smaller number of projects and delivering maximum impact, you have a bigger sense of achievement, confidence and motivation. Plus, you may have more time to stop work early and spend time with the people that matter.

    13. Commit to a Bigger Future

    You have the power and control to decide what bigger and better future you want for yourself right now, in this present moment. How far into the future you want to ‘vision’ is up to you. It could be 3 years, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years. This future is yours to create but, it only comes from investing time now to think about where you are and where you want to go.

    Try this: Look into your ‘future you’ and be clear where you want to go, who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Then, bring yourself back to the present day and create an action plan on how you’re going to create and ‘walk to’ this bigger future.

    You will feel a higher sense of energy, engagement, motivation, creativity and productivity because you have a clear vision and clarity on exactly where you want to go and the steps you need to take to get there.

    This article can help you do that: The Best Way to Create a Vision For the Life You Want

    14. Schedule Your Time Smartly

    Time is one of the prime factors to consider when you plan to improve your work life balance. If you control your time, you can control everything!

    You might have to deal with millions of tasks in a day, and sometimes it leads to forgetting other important things in life. But if you intentionally schedule your working day and stick to your calendar, these minor hiccups will not be able to over-power your resolve to maintain work life balance.

    You can use a simple pen-paper or your tech-gadget to schedule your time. Plan out your personal and professional life every day and keep your schedule handy to help you stay focused. You will get the opportunity to over-perform, but it should never be at the cost of other aspects of your life.

    Remember, your work life is important, but so is your personal life that includes vacation time and spending quality time with your friends and family.

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    15. Find Portals for Flexibility

    There are times of the day when you actually can afford to be a little relaxed. But as our human nature dictates, not all of us let it be and simply enjoy the break!

    We would rather schedule something else for that amount of time just to finish the errand. Don’t do that! Find your portal for flexibility and give yourself the luxury of extended breaks and breathe every once in a while!

    16. Find a Buffer

    When we say buffer, we mean that you need to find time between professional and home life, where you learn to let go. Don’t take your office to home and home to the office. Both are important; however, none should be powerful enough to spoil your mood and impact the other!

    For example, while going home from the office, try to unwind yourself by listening to music or podcast that loosens you up. It would recharge you and bring back a smile on your face. Make a dedicated effort to do this every day, even when going to work.

    17. Unplug from Technology

    Technology is one of the major culprits behind people not learning to relax. Our lives are so much tangled and surrounded by technology that we hardly leave the sight of our mobile phones or laptops throughout the day, even when it’s not required! [1]

    It is us who give the power to technology to subjugate us to the extent that it becomes a compulsion.

    Unplugging yourself from technology every once in a while would give you enough opportunity to make time for everything else that matters. It is one of the gospels to achieving work life balance in the 21st century.

    Benefits That a Healthy Work Life Balance Can Bring to Your Life

    There are numerous benefits of having work life balance. Many don’t realize until it’s too late that your personal and professional life is equally important and that you should not have to compromise on either of them. Whether you are a business owner or an employee, when you have a perfect work life balance, you can:

    Be Free from Stress and Other Mental Ailments

    Overcompensating on a particular part of life results in dissatisfaction. For example, how would you feel when you have to put long hours at the office to finish the incomplete projects while your family eats dinner alone at home?

    Frustrated? Annoyed? Stressed? Angry? Dissatisfied?

    The list could go on, and all these feelings would devour your peace of mind. Eventually, it results in burnout, and people get trapped into the vicious habit of getting stressed. Many even develop other mental issues on account of extended work hours. [2]

    Having a good work life balance reduces stress and saves you from developing any such mental ailments.

    Be Happy and Satisfied with Life

    Let us try to answer another question! How would you feel when your work performance is excellent, you manage to give family time, and get to blow off steam playing poker with your friends? Super-Awesome! Isn’t it?

    That is what happens when you balance your work and life. It would not happen overnight, but eventually, when you habituate yourself performing balancing techniques, you will observe that you are happy and satisfied with your life.

    Be More Productive in Every Facet of Life

    Your productivity is directly linked to your mindset. If you are stressed, unhappy, dissatisfied, or angry at life, you would never be able to give your hundred percent.

    However, if you manage to maintain a balanced approach in your professional and personal time, your serotonin levels would shoot through the roof since you would be happy. It would eventually allow you to give out your best performance everywhere.

    The Bottom Line

    Some of these strategies and tips will allow you to think differently and work differently immediately, whilst others will take a little longer to implement but will be key to your long-term success.

    Creating a balance between how you think, how you work and how you spend your time is essential to your long-term health and mental wellbeing. The desire to create that change only comes from within. Hopefully these strategies and tips will set you on the right path!

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    More Tips About Living a Balanced Life

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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