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“I’m wasting my life.”
Many people will have thought this at some point.
We all have moments when we feel like we’re not making the most of our lives.
But it’s normally a passing thought that comes when we’re having a bad day, a tough week, or haven’t been particularly productive recently, for whatever reason.
If you consistently feel like you’re wasting your life, however, that’s another story.
A persistent nagging feeling that you’re letting life slip through your fingers is one that you need to address.
After all, it’s almost impossible to be happy if you feel this way.
If you’ve found yourself feeling like this, there are two different ways to combat it. But you’ll need to combine both approaches if you really want to make a difference to your outlook on life.
It’s about learning to recognize the value in the things you already have and do, whilst also finding ways to make changes to the way you live, so you feel that it’s all more meaningful.
Let’s start with some advice for learning to recognize the value in the things you do and the life you already lead.
5 Ways To Adjust Your Mindset To Feel More Fulfilled
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Mark Twain said, “comparison is the death of joy,” and I think we can all agree on that.
After all, even if you compare yourself favorably to someone else, the happiness you gain from it is a twisted kind of happiness.
Have you ever stopped to think about whether you really want all those things you’ve decided your life won’t be complete without, or whether you just feel like you should have them, because someone else does?
Humans have always suffered from comparison-itis, but social media has made it part of our everyday reality, as we’re presented with other people’s perfect social-media lives every day, multiple times a day.
You’re never going to be able to stop comparing yourself to others entirely, because it’s in our nature.
But you can reframe…
You can remind yourself that just because someone else is succeeding, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
Success takes a million different forms, and you don’t have to have all the things your Facebook friend has in order to be happy.
You can also take into account that all those people sharing their lives online only share the good stuff, just like you do. You can bet there’s plenty going on behind the scenes that isn’t so picture-perfect.
You need to learn to be happy for the success that others have whilst focusing on ploughing your own furrow.
2. Be grateful for everything you do have.
One of the main keys to feeling more fulfilled in your life – just the way it is at this very moment – is to kick your level of gratefulness up a notch.
We sometimes spend so much time focusing on what we don’t have and want we want, that we have no appreciation for all the things we do have in our lives.
If you want to up your levels of gratitude, take some time at the end of each day to think about, say, five things that you’re grateful for.
It might be your family, your home, your friends, beautiful weather, a professional achievement, or just the fact that you’re healthy.
That will help you focus on all the positive things in your life, however small or seemingly insignificant they might be.
It will also take your attention off that slip-up at work or that thing your friend from school posted on Facebook.
A nightly gratitude ritual should also mean that you drift off to sleep with pleasant thoughts floating around your mind, and hopefully wake up feeling positive the following day.
3. Reframe things positively.
Okay, so this isn’t always possible. There are some events in life for which it is hard to find a silver lining.
But if you’ve had some bad luck recently, try your best to look at those events from a positive perspective.
For example, if you’ve been let go from a job that you hated, try to think of it as motivation to finally start doing something more fulfilling.
Doors closing generally mean windows open, so do your best to look for that window in every situation.
4. Accept the ones you love for who they are.
If you spend all your time focusing on the things you wish you could change about the ones you love, then your relationships will be strained, and you’re bound to feel dissatisfied.
Do what you can to accept the people you love for exactly who they are, rather than focusing on aspects of their character that you find less than ideal.
Love them for exactly who they are now, not who you think they have the potential to be.
5. Challenge your logic.
It’s fine to want more out of life, within reason. It’s good to have ambition and goals. It’s great to be motivated to make more of yourself.
But there should be logic behind your choices and the things you’re striving for or beating yourself up about.
Perhaps you’ve decided you want a new car. Is that something that would actually boost your happiness or make your life easier?
Perhaps you’ve decided you want to make more money. Is that because you struggle to get to the end of the month and are worried about being able to take care of your family?
You need to be clear on exactly why it is you want things, rather than just deciding that you do for no reason at all.
Ask yourself what the reasoning behind that want is, and where the desire comes from.
If you find rock solid reasons, then that’s brilliant, as it gives you some direction and purpose to keep going and make positive change to your life.
5 Things You Can Do To Feel More Positive About Your Life
Okay, so we’ve looked at adjustments you can make to your attitude and outlook so that you feel more fulfilled with your life as it is right now.
But as well as all that, there are plenty of concrete actions you can take to help you stop feeling like you’re wasting your life.
The best approach is to combine the two. You can work on your outlook on the life you have right now whilst also making a few small changes to the way you live that will make a big difference overall.
1. Invest in existing and new friendships.
True friendship is a gift that we often take for granted, but it can make a huge difference to your levels of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Build those friendships by reaching out to the people that are important to you more often, organizing activities to do together, and letting them know how important they are to you.
Prioritize them, and the meaningful relationships you develop will help you say goodbye to the idea that you’re wasting your life.
2. Volunteer for a good cause.
If you struggle to see any meaning in the way you live your life, volunteering can be transformational.
It can give your mood a boost and give you a sense of purpose, so that you can start seeing the point in life.
You’ll be able to see the positive impact you’re having in front of your very eyes.
Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, environmental protection groups, or dog shelters are great places to start.
3. Be open to change.
If you’re set in your ways and not open to change, then, logically, you’re not going to be able to grow or progress.
Try to approach potential changes in life with open arms so you know that there’s the possibility of new, exciting challenges on the horizon.
Opening yourself up to change is about making a conscious effort to change your behavior. If you notice that you have a bad habit, make a point of trying to work on it every time you get a chance.
And it’s about actively listening to people who express views that don’t coincide with yours, always being willing to adapt your approach to things if there’s a better way that you haven’t considered.
4. Spend more time with your family.
Just as building stronger bonds with friends can transform the way you see the world, making more of an effort with your family can also give your life so much more meaning.
Call your family more often and make plans to spend more time with them.
At the end of the day, when the chips are down, it’s probably going to be your family you’re most concerned about, and deliberately spending more quality time with them will mean it’s hard for you to feel like you’re wasting your life.
5. Make plans and stick to them.
Contentment in life is rooted in the everyday, but that doesn’t mean that a little excitement, challenge, and change won’t make you feel like you’re really achieving things and really living life.
So, if you’ve been meaning to go on that big trip, book it. If you’ve been meaning to visit somewhere, learn something, try something, experience something…
…get out there and do it!
Push yourself a little and try things that are out of your comfort zone, so that at the end of the year you’ll be able to look back with a smile on all the things you’ve done and how far you’ve come.
Live in the moment, be grateful for everything you have, and get excited about the future, and it won’t be long before your life takes on a whole new meaning.
Still feel like you’re wasting your life? Talking to someone can really help you to address and fix this issue. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can guide you and help you both practically and mentally so that you can feel more positively about your life.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Online therapy is actually a good option for many people. It’s more convenient than in-person therapy and is more affordable in a lot of cases. And you get access to the same level of qualified and experienced professional.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Am I alone in feeling this way?
No, you’re not alone in feeling like you’re wasting your life. Not even close. Many people feel like this right now, and many more have felt like this at some point in their lives.
It’s part of being human to want to do something with your life, to feel like your life has meaning and that you are contributing something to society. To feel like you are wasting your life is to feel frustrated that you haven’t yet managed to find your true place in this world.
In fact, it can be of some consolation to know that there are others out there who feel the same as you. Get yourself on Reddit or Quora or some other website where lots of people hang out and you’ll find so many threads and questions that will sound like you could have written them.
Why am I so passive?
There are lots of reasons why you might be passive, none more important than it is easier to be passive than to take determined action in the long run. It takes less energy, less discipline, and less concentration to allow life to be dictated by other people and forces.
Then there is a lack of motivation. You haven’t found a way to push yourself to keep going – both in the short and long term. In the long term, you need a central reason to do the things you want to do. This is often referred to as your ‘why’ in life – the driving force behind your actions. But you also need short term motivations to overcome laziness and counter the excuses you make up as to why you can’t do something.
You might choose not to act because you are afraid of failing at what you put your time and effort into. Failure can be scary – it’s a knock to your ego and it provides uncertainty because you don’t know what the result of your failure will be. And so you put off goals or dreams in the knowledge that you can’t fail if you never try.
It might be that you don’t act because you don’t have any goals to act toward. You just allow the status quo to continue because you don’t know what you want your life to look like. Or you have some idea of what you want to achieve but have never set clear goals that you can work toward.
Next comes a lack of self-belief. You may be crystal clear on your goals but avoid pursuing them because you don’t think you are capable of achieving them. You have so many doubts swirling around in your head and these prevent you from taking action.
Your passive behavior could stem from a lack of trust in your ability to make good decisions. If you doubt your choices or worry that you could have made better ones, you might get stuck in a position where you don’t make any decisions at all.
Do you seek the approval or permission of others before you do anything? This could be another reason why you feel so down on your life. This ties in with a lack of trust in yourself because you feel the need to ask others what they think of your ideas or goals before you do anything about them. And even if they respond positively, you may still not act.
Another reason could be a habit of overthinking everything you do. This relates to some of the other points and has a lot to do with self-doubt. If you doubt your decisions or your abilities, or don’t have a goal in mind or clear motivation to achieve that goal, you will probably find yourself thinking the same things over and over. All that thinking rarely results in action.
Finally, you might have issues regarding your mental health that you are unaware of or that you haven’t sought treatment for. Depression can make it hard to be proactive because it sucks the will from you and negates all your reasons for doing anything. It’s a good idea to speak to your GP or seek help from a mental health professional to check whether you might be suffering from depression or some other condition.
How can I follow through on my plans?
The most important thing to remember is that your plans need to be things you actually want to do. There is no point setting goals that don’t fit in with your long term dreams, the type of person you want to be, or your morals. Make plans that matter to you; don’t follow what other people are doing or do something because someone says that you should.
It is a good to idea to start small and find ways to achieve little things that push you ever so slightly closer to a larger goal. This will build your momentum and help you keep going with other things that are slightly bigger. Once you are moving consistently toward something, you are much more likely to persist with your efforts.
Getting organized is vital if you are to follow through on your plans. If you don’t have a clear path to follow and rough timeframes for your actions, important things might get overlooked. And when you aren’t organized, you’ll waste more of your precious time trying to figure things out on the fly.
Expect anxiety and discouragement but push through them. When you push yourself past your comfort zone, you are bound to feel anxious about what comes next. And you will also feel discouraged at times because not everything will go to plan. Knowing this will help you to deal with these feelings and not let them stop you in your tracks.
If you struggle to follow through on things by yourself, it may help to have someone else by your side. This person might just be there to hold you accountable in a positive way, prompting you when you need to do things and asking about your progress. Or they might be someone who will walk the same path as you so that you can hold each other’s hand and cheer each other on. Either way, having an accountability partner can help to motivate you.
When you set out to achieve anything, it is important not to expect that thing to be perfect. Perfection is the enemy of progress because as soon as imperfections begin to show, you’ll lose all motivation to continue. Instead, focus on being consistent with that thing and trying to improve to a good level. And when you can no longer improve, just try to maintain that level.
Another aspect of perfectionism is the desire to research and plan every little detail of your goal. This can lead to analysis paralysis whereby you get stuck in the planning stage and never reach the action stage. You have to decide to just do the thing once you have a reasonable idea in your head of what you’re doing and how to do it.
Although the achievement of a goal provides reward in itself, you should also find ways to reward your progress and your effort as you work toward that goal. Ideally, you should give yourself a small reward immediately following a period of action as this has been shown to work better than a bigger delayed reward. Just be sure that the reward doesn’t hinder your pursuit of the goal (e.g. don’t reward yourself with an unhealthy snack after doing some exercise if your goal is to achieve a healthier bodyweight).
Speaking of exercise, it is the final suggestion to help you follow through on your plans. Exercise needn’t have anything to do with what you want to achieve, but regular exercise can improve your mental health. Since poor mental health can be a barrier to goal achievement, exercise can help to eliminate that goal.
How do I decide on my direction in life?
When it comes to finding direction in life, the most critical thing is to reflect on yourself. Consider what your morals are, what things you are passionate about, what sort of relationships you value most, and what a perfect day would look like to you.
Figure out how these and other things might intersect to form your ideal life. What sort of career suits you best? What hobbies bring you joy? Where would you like to live? Who is important to you and who might you be ready to let go of?
Don’t make self-reflection a one time thing; you should be spending some time in thought on a regular basis to ensure that the goals you are pursuing still match the direction you want to take. You might need to make adjustments if you’ve wandered off course.
Am I addicted to my phone?
Phone addiction can be a major contributor to the feeling that you are wasting your life. If you spend many hours each day scrolling through social feeds, reading articles, playing games, or watching videos, it can make it hard to be productive and get things done.
If you think you’re addicted, you may find yourself refreshing social feeds every few minutes to see if there is anything new. You may click on video after video because you are drawn in by their titles or thumbnails. You may check the same apps over and over out of compulsion rather than because you need to.
Do you have to take your phone with you from one room to another, even if you’ll only be gone five minutes? Do you ever check your phone in the middle of the night? Are you eyes glued to the screen when you walk anywhere? Do you respond to messages within seconds of receiving them? All of these things point toward a possible addiction to your smartphone.
If this is the case, you might need to seek help to break that addiction. If you manage to, you will have more time available to pursue goals and you should be in a better mindset to do so.
Should I ditch my negative friends?
The people we spend time with influence the way we think and act. If you spend time with people who are overly negative, who aren’t ambitious, and who blame others for their shortcomings, you’ll get stuck in that mindset too.
That’s not to say that you can’t rant and express your negative feelings with others – everyone needs to do that once in a while. The problem comes when that’s all you ever talk about with a certain person or group of people.
If there is no positivity coming from someone, they’ll just drag you down to their level whenever you are around them. You’ll think you are wasting your life by virtue of the fact that you view your friends as wasting their lives too.
Whilst you do need authentic friendships and people you can be yourself around, you don’t have to remain friends with people whose company no longer serves you or who you have grown apart from.
You may suggest that you all try to improve your lives and your selves, but expect to meet resistance to this idea because people can only change if they want to change and most people don’t want to change.
Still feel like you’re wasting your life? Speak to a therapist today who can listen to your thoughts and concerns and then help you address them both mentally and practically. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
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