Do you feel stuck in your life?
Has all forward progress come to a halt?
Are you treading water, not really going anywhere?
It’s okay – most people feel this way at some point in their life.
But if you’re reading this, you want to know how to unstick yourself, right?
Good, that’s step one – you have admitted that there is something amiss and are looking for ways to rectify the situation.
So let’s dive in by first asking…
What’s it like to feel stuck?
It’s a knowing, somewhere deep inside, that where you are in your life right now is not somewhere you want to settle down and remain in.
You may be able to identify specific things that you don’t like, or you may not quite be able to put your finger on it.
Either way, things don’t feel comfortable. You don’t wake up each day looking forward to what is to come.
Feeling stuck is the instinctive knowledge that there is more out there for you. More satisfaction, more to accomplish, more happiness.
But it’s also the feeling that you can’t get those things with the way your life is at the minute.
That’s where these things come into play…
1. Practice self-determination.
Perhaps the most important aspect of unsticking your life is to take charge of it.
Everyone is busy with their own lives, and whilst you may be able to rely on people for some support, no one else has the physical, mental, or emotional energy to change your life for you.
You have to be willing to put in the necessary work to figure out where your path lies and then to walk it.
Only you have the power to do that.
Sure, life coaching can help you with the first part – the direction you wish to take – but you still have to put one foot in front of the other, figuratively speaking.
2. Set realistic expectations.
Ask a bunch of kids what they want to be when they grow up and you might get responses such as doctor, NBA star, firefighter, astronaut, and teacher.
Some of those careers are more realistic than others.
As you take control of your life, it pays to keep your feet on the ground when it comes to what you want to achieve – at least, in the short and medium term.
There are few things more demotivating than not getting anywhere near your goals or ambitions.
You’ll only end up feeling more stuck.
This doesn’t only apply to your job, but all aspects of your life.
Sure, if you were in a great place mentally and emotionally, “think big” might be good advice, but you’re not and so it’s not.
“Think realistic” is more appropriate for your current situation.
We can’t all live the life of our dreams, but we can all find a way to improve our lives to a point where we feel content with what we have achieved.
3. Focus on short term goals for now.
Having an idea of where you want to get to in life is great, but perhaps that’s not something you can imagine right now.
That’s okay. Not having the long term vision doesn’t mean you can’t still take the short term steps toward a more satisfying life.
In fact, doing things to alleviate some of your pain points in the short term can enable you to think more clearly about what it is you want in the more distant future.
It’s the little steps that you take that can often pave the way for the bigger steps later on.
So don’t mistake small changes as being of no importance whatsoever. They are.
Set goals that you can realistically (there’s that word again) achieve in the short term.
Find ways to ease your stress, boost your happiness, or free up your time and energy, no matter how insignificant they feel right now.
4. Build momentum through habits.
As we’ve just discussed, the small things often matter a lot.
One important reason why is momentum: one thing often leads to another and then another.
And they do this because when you make a small change to your lifestyle and you manage to stick with it, it soon becomes a habit.
You no longer have to think about it or spend energy trying to keep it going. It’s just something you automatically do from that point on.
And this gives you the platform and the energy to tackle another change which also then becomes a habit.
Before you know it, you’ve made lots of changes that have since become habits and you no longer feel so stuck in a rut.
You move forward and your mindset changes from one where change feels hard to one where you feel inspired and able to keep going.
And you’d be amazed at just how important the little things we do each day are.
In the grand production that is your life, there can only be so many standout moments when big shifts happen.
The rest of the time, it’s the seemingly trivial changes you make that build the platform for those bigger course alterations that take your life in a new direction.
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5. Be patient and be consistent.
Even as you make smaller changes – and especially when it comes to larger ones – you must remain patient in your quest for results.
Nothing is going to happen overnight. Everything takes time.
Which is why it is critical to place far more emphasis on taking action and being consistent with that action than it is to focus on what you are achieving.
Seeing the results of your labor can be enjoyable, but if you only ever take comfort from those rare moments, you will wish away your days hoping to reach them sooner.
In an ideal world, you would shift the mental and emotional reward from the end product to the process required to get there.
In other words, find joy and peace in the knowledge that you are working hard toward something, and not only in the achievement of that thing.
That way, you won’t feel so stuck, even when the results are not yet forthcoming. You will feel empowered by all the good things you are doing to propel yourself toward something better.
6. Be willing to take a step back to move forward.
Sometimes we can’t reach where we want to get to by staying on our current path.
We have to go backwards, find a fork in the road, and try a different route.
But those backwards steps are often the hardest ones to take because they make us feel like a failure.
And so we do nothing, and we feel stuck because of it.
This could be in your career, where to change it might mean starting further down the ladder than you are now and working your way back up.
Or it could apply to your romantic relationship, where you might have to accept that the one you are in is not working out so that you can end it before meeting someone more suited to you.
To enable you to make these difficult changes, it helps to reframe them not as backwards steps, but just as the beginning of a new journey to reach a place where you feel more at peace.
After all, new beginnings often come from saying goodbye to something else – whether that’s a job, a relationship, a particular place you call home, a friend, or even a goal if it’s no longer contributing to your life in a positive way.
7. Change your attitude toward risk.
Another common reason why a person may feel stuck in their life is because they do not want to take the risks required to change it.
They are afraid of change, and though they may not be entirely happy there, they prefer to stay well and truly within the confines of their comfort zone.
If you can relate to this, you ought to try to challenge how you think about risk.
Sure, any risk has a potential downside attached to it. You might try to achieve something, not quite manage it, and find yourself in a situation you’d rather not be in.
But you’d rather not feel stuck either.
So it’s often the case of considering whether the downside is that much more of an unwelcome position to be in than where you are now, and comparing it to the upside and how much better that might be.
And you have to factor in the feelings of regret you will inevitably have if you don’t act at all.
If, as will sometimes be the case, the risk doesn’t pay off, at least you can say you tried.
If you do nothing, you will live until your last breath wondering “What if?”
Of course, you don’t have to take reckless risks. You can take calculated risks instead.
If you’re unhappy in your job, you can take the risk of a pay cut in the hope that you get higher job satisfaction somewhere else. But you don’t have to do so until you have saved up some money to make that transition to a lower income more manageable.
Or you could take the risk of moving to a new country for better weather and a lifestyle that is more suited to your personality. But you can always rent out your current home, safe in the knowledge that you could return to it if your new life doesn’t quite meet your expectations.
Once you manage the risk as much as you can, it comes down to facing your fear of change head on and taking that leap.
8. Look for more accessible routes to forward movement.
Some things are difficult to change, even if you know that such a change is something that you would benefit from.
Those big shifts require lots of mental and emotional energy, and you may not be in the position to give that energy right now.
You can still tackle the feeling of being stuck by looking for ways to move your life in a positive direction that are more manageable.
This relates back to having realistic expectations – expectations of yourself and what you are capable of doing at this time in your life.
Maybe you live with chronic pain, but would dearly like to find paid work to gain a sense of purposefulness. But that level of commitment is too great for where you are right now.
Instead, you might consider voluntary work that is far more flexible. This can help you figure out where your limits are in terms of physical capabilities and the amount of time you feel able to dedicate.
You might be able to transition to a paid job later down the line, or you may not. Either way, you have done something to address a pain point you were having.
The alternative route to forward movement needn’t even be related to the larger goal you’d like to achieve.
Let’s say that you wish to change careers, but aren’t ready for such a leap right now. You might still address your feelings of being stuck by finding ways to improve other areas of your life.
Perhaps you look at your lifestyle choices and what you can do to lead a healthier life.
Or maybe you find ways to grow personally in terms of your emotional landscape and the way you interact with others.
These sorts of things may eventually contribute to you feeling able to tackle the larger challenge of moving into a new field of work, or they might not.
They may make you change the way you think about your career and how it’s actually not so bad after all because you are happier in yourself due to the other changes you made.
9. Just take action.
Some things change for the better all by themselves.
But this is rare and cannot be relied upon.
The best way to unstick yourself is, as we have already touched upon, to take action.
Feeling stuck is feeling like nothing is changing and everything is stationary.
Action is movement. And, by definition, movement is not stationary.
Whether that action is big or small, whether it is a backwards step, a sideways step, or a forward step, whether it is risky or safe…
…just take it.
Take the action and see for yourself how much better it can make you feel to do something to move your life in a positive direction.
Then take another action and build the momentum we spoke about.
Take as many actions as you need to overpower that feeling of being stuck.
No more procrastination. No more analysis paralysis.
Just take action.
You’ve got this.