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Published on December 9, 2019

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

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 movement through it. Whether you are a middle aged working parent, deep into your retirement, or somewhere in between, there are times when we all feel like we are stuck in our lives.

I have a strong familiarity with this feeling of low energy levels, a lacking in 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 manners to beat that feeling of “being stuck in life” is that this feeling is extremely normal. We all will experience 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. Which brings me to my first step in beating that feeling of being stuck in life.

1. Ready to Throw in the Towel? Welcome to the Club

You’ve got to recognize that this idea of being stuck is a natural and oft occurring 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 the realization that life is hard and there will be days, weeks, months when you don’t feel like you have enough fuel in the tank to push onwards and upwards.

Even as I write this post, I will admit that I had that feeling of being stuck when I woke up this morning to come to work. Let me set the scene and you tell me if this sounds familiar.

Monday morning. Your alarm goes off. You begrudgingly hit the snooze and let out a sigh of exhaustion as you consider that the weekend is officially behind you and the work week is looming over you.

You pause to consider whether to go in at all before finally capitulating and dressing yourself for the day. As you drag yourself to work and take the morning drive to the office, you officially feel tired and stuck in this situation.

This type of feeling is healthy and we all have moments where there may be a lull in our work requirements, or perhaps you’ve been working an overly abundant amount of overtime, etc.

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.

This brings me to step number two in breaking out of that feeling!

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2. What’s the Source?

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

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.

“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.

Challenges throughout life are an inevitable aspect of the journey of life and so, when you are feeling really stuck in a situation that you are finding discomfort in, it is time to start a full evaluation of your situation to try and better understand what the source of that feeling is.

One thing I’ve learned in going to therapy as a manner to deal with my own struggles with anxiety, motivation, and self-destructive tendencies, is that you must first identify the root cause of an issue before you can make positive changes in a new direction.

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]

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, revitalized with a strengthened energy.

3. Budget 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.

So considering the facts that this feeling is normal, and in working to identify the root cause of being stuck, you should start evaluating how you utilize your time.

Too often I hear the phrase, “I don’t have the time to work on [fill in the blank]” as an excuse that enables individuals to forgo a responsibility or necessary action and instead, slough it off and 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 where you set aside your hours in each day for work, for yourself, for sleep, and for whatever things you want to accomplish, 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.

Time is our most precious asset and if we waste it away without a second thought, then life will pass you by and you will stay stuck much longer than you ever anticipated possible.

By constructing a more established schedule for how you will utilize your time, you can train yourself up to be more naturally productive and disallow the creep of feeling stuck back into your life.

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 the Mirror

Don’t you find it interesting that so often, we can 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 who is struggling with issues of their own.

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 is healthy or realistic.

I find that it can be even more productive when you examine your own life as an outsider and try to look forward into what your trajectory will be as a means to better analyze your path and understand how to let go of that feeling of being stuck.

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 in your current walk through life.

Mentally stepping outside of your own perspective for a moment and taking more of a third person view on your situation can be helpful. That distance from your traditional outlook can be enlightening.

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.”

When feeling stuck, it can be so easy to allow yourself to feel down trodden and out of it from a mental perspective. This is why it is very important that you take a good hard look at your own behavior to determine whether anything you are doing either externally in your life, or internally, has a hand in the feeling that is overtaking your spirit!

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 so 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,

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“Self-compassion involves treating yourself just like you would treat your friends or family members.”

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 view yourself only through a negative lens.

This is an area that we all could probably improve in. In my own life, I can often be my own worst critic. So in working to break out of that stuck feeling, try to step outside of your normal thought process. Take a good hard look in the mirror to come up with some creative solutions for yourself!

5. Distractions Can Be a Good Thing

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 in a beneficial manner.

If you are feeling stuck in a particular area of your life, then try to step away from that area for a moment and re-focus 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. So shaking things up and finding new ways to distract your mind is a perfect way to break out of that mental cycle!

I love creating new music or works of writing but I also enjoy physical activities such as basketball, racquetball, disc golf or just going on a nice walk in the neighborhood. All of these things can help clear my mind and break me out of the mental state that will at times hold me hostage and steal away my motivation to keep trucking along at a long term goal or pursuit.

If you find yourself at an impasse in work or in life and you can’t break off that stale feeling or 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 towards your life’s goals.

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. I often get caught up missing the forest for the trees.

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!

6. Turn That Productivity Up!

Very much in line with the idea that you should find new ways to distract your mind, you should consider building on that foundation by establishing manners with which you can productively utilize your time when you feel stuck in another pursuit.

I’ve had seasons of my life where all I wanted to do was leave work, drive home, sit on the couch and waste my evening away watching the latest and greatest shows on Netflix. The problem is that this cycle of behavior was detrimental to my mental and physical health and left a lot to be desired for balance in my life.

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

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

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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 manners to expend my time, I feel more fulfilled and better prepared to handle the up’s and down’s of life.

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

I’m not advocating that you fill every last minute of your schedule until your hair falls off . Don’t be that person that takes this task to the furthest extreme!

But keeping busy with productive things in and outside 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. Looking Back and Looking 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 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, 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 or have been, then you will miss out on important insights into your own path through life.

Final Thoughts

We all move in different paces through the journey of 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!

You are a strong and intelligent human being and I know this because you wouldn’t have read this far along if you weren’t serious about breaking out of this funk!

Keep your head held high and don’t let the world get you down!

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

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Colton Black

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

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

The statistics are dismal. A recent study has found that 69% of people feel trapped in the same old routine, and only 3 out of 10 people are happy with their lives.[1] People are feeling stuck.

Some are feeling stuck in their careers, feeling like they’re too far along one path to make a change. Some are feeling stuck in their personal lives. The toll of the daily grind sucks most of their time and energy. So their relationships, self-care, and personal goals get lost in the shuffle of the treadmill existence.

When people come across these challenges of feeling stuck, the feeling sometimes doesn’t go away. It often intensifies as time goes on. As the stuck feeling intensifies, some people choose to settle. Subconsciously, without even realizing it, they end up pushing their dreams and goals further and further down.

Others, if the feeling of being stuck intensifies to an unbearable point, choose to make changes. They may choose to pivot in their careers, even after years at a successful job. They may end up making big changes in their relationships, or start putting their fitness at a higher priority. They may make drastic changes to finally feel free. These changes can be incredibly difficult to make, especially if a person has lived many years in a certain lifestyle.

Feeling stuck is NOT fun. I’ve been there. I get it.

Why Am I Feeling Stuck?

People feel stuck once in a while. There are many causes of feeling stuck. Many people work toward goals that don’t actually align with who they are at the core or what they truly desire. I call these “False Objectives”.

Living a life of False Objectives can cause people to feel very stuck and frustrated. People can build lives that are very “successful” according to society; but if you’ve built your life based on False Objectives, you’re not going to feel fulfilled. You’ll end up feeling stuck.

Another cause of feeling stuck is not knowing who you are. If you don’t understand how you’re innately wired – your strengths, your gifts, your talents, your passions – it’s tough to make decisions that enable you to maximize those. It’s tough to reach your full potential if you don’t know who you are.

You can feel stuck if you’re doing work that doesn’t allow you to maximize your innate strengths. If you’re doing work that doesn’t bring out the best in who you are at the core, you’ll likely feel some dissatisfaction and you won’t reach your full potential.

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Other people feel stuck because they haven’t surrounded themselves with mentors or peers who have achieved what they want to achieve. They stay in certain routines while craving to do life differently. As Jim Rohn says,

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

If your goal is to run a marathon and you’re spending most evenings and weekends drinking beer with your coworkers, you’re probably not going to run that marathon. If your goal is to live a location-independent lifestyle and work anytime from anywhere, but everyone in your social circle is at traditional jobs; it’ll be tough to break free from the 9-5 mentality.

How Feeling Stuck Screws You up Secretly

Feeling stuck screws up people’s lives. The consequences of feeling stuck can range from mild to severe. People may feel a mild discontentment with life and end up succumbing to the idea that life is “okay,” and settle. (Nancy’s story will resonate with you.) They may never reach their full potential, their highest levels of happiness and satisfaction. And they may not make the impact on the world that they could make, and have a looming sense that there could be “more” to life.

Often, though, the feeling of being stuck comes with much larger consequences. Feeling stuck can hinder career growth and contribute to disrupted marriages. It can lead to huge midlife crises.

The feeling can (and frequently does) increase as the years go on, leading to significant regrets about unfulfilled dreams. In fact, the number one regret of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” She writes:[2]

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Many people had not honored even a half of their dreams, and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

    Approaching Life Differently

    Thankfully, some highly effective strategies can prevent you from feeling stuck. Using these strategies can help you avoid significant problems in your life. It’s different than conventional living, and it works.

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    Commonly, people live with many set routines. While certain routines are helpful, becoming stuck in the daily grind routine can get frustrating. Many people eat roughly the same foods each week, go to the same place each day, talk to the same people, keep the same commitments, and end up living life on autopilot.

    It’s tough to feel like you’re progressing forward when each day is spent doing the same uninspiring routine. In order to avoid feeling stuck, it’s important to live intentionally. It’s crucial to live in the driver’s seat of your life and get out of autopilot mode.

    First, ditch the False Objectives. Just because everyone in your family are doctors doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because all your friends are married with a big house, a white picket fence, and 2 kids doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because everyone you know works 9-5 doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. It’s not easy to design your life intentionally, but it’s critical in order to avoid feeling stuck.

    Remember, the majority of people feel stuck. So, if you’re doing things like the majority of people, you’ll likely feel stuck, too. You’ll need to think differently and create your life differently.

    2 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

    In order to intentionally design your life, avoid falling prey to False Objectives, and prevent feeling stuck, there are questions to ask yourself every day. These questions can help you stay focused on what matters most to you, help you avoid feeling stuck and frustrated, and create the best life possible.

    1. Why Am I Going to Do What I’m Going to Do Today?

    If you’re showing up to work each day and giving your years to your job, it’s important that your “why” is deeper than “to pay the bills.” Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing can help you make choices that inspire and motivate you.

    By asking yourself why you’re going to do what you’re going to do today, you will be living intentionally. In today’s incredibly busy, easily distracted world, living intentionally and focusing every day on what matters most is unique.

    When you choose to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing every day, it will help you stay focused on what’s truly important to you. This can prevent you from getting stuck.

    2. What Would Future Want Me to Do Today?

    Imagine yourself, in the future, as the best version of you. What would that version of you want you to do today? Making decisions from the viewpoint of the future you can help you move forward and prevent the stuck and frustrated feeling.

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    When you make decisions from the viewpoint of future you, you will develop perseverance and reap the benefits of delayed gratification. Today’s society is very focused on instant gratification, but a lot of great things in life take time and effort. Learning to take small steps forward by making decisions from the future you’s standpoint can help you progress toward your biggest goals and dreams.

    How to Get Unstuck

    After asking yourself the two questions, work on the plan to get unstuck. I’ve personally tried these strategies and they work for me.

    1. Choose Goals You Truly Desire to Accomplish

    This might sound obvious but we all get sucked into False Objectives at times. When you’re setting goals in your career and your personal life, make sure they are goals that matter to you.

    Working hard toward big achievements that don’t align with your values, priorities, and who you are at the core is a fast-track toward feeling stuck.

    Learn about your strengths, your gifts, and your passions. 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.

    2. Watch Your Mindset

    Often, we think we’re stuck, but the problem is our mindset. Being mindful of our mindset and self-talk is important to living a life of freedom and fulfillment. Work on rephrasing your self-talk in order to improve your mindset.

    For example, if you tell yourself, “I could never start a business,” rephrase it to, “I don’t know how to start a business YET, but I can learn.” If you find yourself saying, “I don’t have enough money to travel,” tell yourself, “I don’t have the money right now, but I can make a plan to save money to travel. Rephrasing your self-talk can help you see opportunities and possibilities instead of feeling stuck.

    Occasionally, even the most driven people have days where they feel unmotivated. Check out this article for tips to get motivated when you feel like doing nothing: What Motivates You And How to Always Stay Motivated

    Those tips can help you break free from the rut.

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    3. Get out of Your Comfort Zone and Add Some Excitement to Your Day

    Shaking up your daily routine and adding some excitement to your days can help you get unstuck.

    While breaking out of your daily routine can be uncomfortable, it can be a great way to invigorate your life. You can start by getting out of your comfort zone in small ways. Here are 10 ways to step out of your comfort zone and overcome your fear. As Brian Tracy says,

    “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

    Getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing growth can help you to continue to move forward and prevent you from getting stuck.

    4. Surround Yourself with People Who Have Done What You Aspire to Do

    It’s easy to get stuck if you’re trying to accomplish something and you’re struggling to believe it’s possible to accomplish it.

    Instead of letting yourself be isolated and stuck, commit to learning from people who have done what you aspire to do. This can help you believe it’s possible to achieve the same goals. It can also help you to be inspired to progress forward instead of staying in stuck-land.

    You can seek out a mentor, or even read inspiring books or listen to motivating podcasts by the people who have achieved your biggest goals and dreams.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s frustrating to feel stuck. But you don’t need to stay stuck if you know the right ways to break free from the rut.

    Practice living intentionally by asking yourself the 2 critical questions:

    • Why am I going to do what I’m going to do today?
    • What would future want me to do today?

    When you constantly reflect about what you truly want and whether you’re doing the things that lead you to what you desire, you’ll feel less stuck gradually.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Krists Luhaers via unsplash.com

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