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Does it feel like your life is going nowhere?
Does it seem like all you do is work, eat, sleep, repeat?
Are you bored of the monotony?
You’re not alone. Almost everybody feels like this at some point; stuck in a rut of sameness and apathy.
But you have it within yourself to change this. You can discover a new direction in life and take it.
This is how.
1. Appreciate how far you’ve already come.
The first step in combating the thought that your life is going nowhere is to actually realize how far you’ve already come.
Look back over your past – and not just the near past, but years back – and you’ll see that the life you are leading now is different to what it once was.
The only conclusion you can possibly draw is that your life has not been entirely static, stationary, unchanged. You are going somewhere. You are developing, changing, growing.
Even if your life feels rather repetitive right now, it won’t be that way forever.
You see, life tends to be a series of relatively long periods of stability punctuated every so often by a shorter period of change.
As a child, you go to school for many years only for that constancy to suddenly end. You might then go to college and university where things are very different, or you head straight into the world of work where life is even more different still.
You may stay in one job for a long time, but it’s more likely that you’ll have any number of jobs over the years. These changes in position and/or company come between periods where nothing much happens in your work life.
Then there are the issues of love, romance, and family. New partners, long relationships, periods of being single, getting married, moving in together, having kids… these are all signs that your life is heading somewhere.
It’s just that years can pass without any of these major life changes taking place. It’s then that you might feel like your life is going nowhere.
2. Ask what you want your life to look like.
Now that you have looked back at the past, turn your attention to the future and imagine a life that you would be happy and content with for the most part.
Where are you? Who are you with? What job do you have? What do you spend your time on? What do you spend your money on?
Maybe you live in a big city, you are with a long term partner, you are working a job that you enjoy, you spend your weekends playing sport or immersed in art and culture, you save up to go on regular vacations and trips.
Or maybe your ideal life looks a little different.
Sit and think carefully about the life ahead of you. What do you want it to look like?
But don’t fall into the trap of imaging what you think life should look like based on the expectations of others or society at large. If you want to do something wildly different to the ‘norm’ then do it – this is your life, after all.
And don’t think that you can’t change this vision of your future as you continue to develop a direction in your life. Nothing ever remains the same – not the world, not the economy, not you, not your wants and wishes.
Stay flexible and be open-minded to opportunities that arise or different perspectives on life that you encounter.
3. Ask what’s missing from your life.
With a future in mind, it’s time to look at your present situation and work out what you are currently lacking.
What are you dissatisfied with? What has disappointed you so much about your life over the past few years? Why do you feel like your life is going nowhere?
Are you just bored with it all?
Do you find it all too stressful?
Have your relationships with others deteriorated?
Are your hobbies no longer bringing you joy?
This approach might feel quite negative, but taking stock of where and who you are right now is important if you wish to improve your situation.
4. Set some goals.
With a clearer picture of where you are and where you wish to be, it’s time to bridge that gap.
And that bridge is built around goals.
Goals help you get from A to B. They provide the framework for the changes that you wish to make in life.
So take that future life you envisioned so clearly in the second point and turn it into a number of big, long-term goals.
You want to buy an apartment in the city. That’s a goal.
You want to be in a healthy and loving relationship. That’s a goal.
Each major aspect of that life becomes a long-term goal.
But when the gap between where you are now and where you want to be is large, you can’t jump it in one go.
That’s where medium-term goals and short-term goals come in.
Think of these as stepping stones that you have to walk, one by one, until you reach the big goal at the end of the path.
You want that dream job that you enjoy and that pays well? You might have to gain further qualifications, get enough experience, work several related jobs over time to get a well-rounded understanding of the industry. You might even need to move to where lots of those jobs are based.
You want to buy a house? That’s going to involve saving up for a deposit which might mean moving back in with your parents for a while. You might commit to saving X amount per month which will probably involve some sacrifices in terms of your social life and related expenditure. You might have to start on a lower, cheaper rung of the housing ladder before working your way up to a place that’s what you want, where you want.
Whatever it is your see in your future, break it down into smaller, bite size chunks that you can work on bit by bit.
Goals are one of the key antidotes to a life that is going nowhere. They literally define where your life is going, or at least the direction you hope to travel in.
5. Develop positive habits that help you toward your goals.
Even smaller than the smallest of goals are habits. They are the things that you do day after day, often without even being aware of them.
And the fact that you do them so often is what makes them such a powerful tool in reaching your goals and changing your life. It’s the compound effect of so many small actions that turn into such big results.
Let’s say one of your long-term goals is to lose 50lb because you know you’re overweight and wish to be and feel healthier.
Now let’s say that one of your current habits is to pick up a snack of chips or chocolate whenever you fill up with gas. If you can change that habit so that you pick up an apple, orange, or banana instead, you’ll be taking lots of little steps toward your goal over time.
If your goal is to meet new people and make new friends, you can develop a habit of remembering a person’s name and greeting them using it. That way, they will think more positively about you and the likelihood of them becoming a friend increases.
Look at your daily life and pinpoint all of your major habits. Then see if any of these need to be adapted or gotten rid of for you to stand a better chance of reaching your big life goals.
Putting the right habits in place can help you to build and maintain momentum because they are done so regularly. So don’t underestimate their importance.
6. Be grateful for the good things in your life.
Even when it seems like your life is going nowhere, there will undoubtedly be things about it that you enjoy.
You may not fully appreciate those things right now, but if you can learn to be truly thankful for them, it will help you feel more positively about your life.
As mentioned above, there will be long periods where nothing much changes in your life, and whilst change can be exciting and refreshing, it’s important not to overlook the simple things in life.
Drinks with friends, a family day out at the zoo, enjoying the spring flowers in your garden, even the joys of binging a series on Netflix – sure, they may not quite match up to the bigger moments in life, but they still matter.
Regular gratitude keeps feelings of scarcity and longing at bay. Rather than seeing everything that you don’t have and a life that is going nowhere, you see all the wonderful things you do have a life that is fulfilling in its own way.
So look carefully and feel and show gratitude at every opportunity.
7. Live life in the present moment.
At this moment in time, you may be fixated on living a different life – one that is more exciting and enjoyable than the one you lead now.
But this fixation means that you don’t fully embrace everything that is happening right now, all around you.
This mindset and focus steals away the vibrancy of the present moment. It dulls your senses and makes everything seem a little bit less amazing and a little bit more… meh!
The truth is, a life that is lived in the present moment doesn’t need to go anywhere. It is enough.
You no longer worry about what you ‘should’ be doing with your life because you are totally wrapped up in living it.
To learn how, check out our article on this topic: How To Live In The Present Moment
8. Stop comparing your life with the lives of others.
You may feel like you are standing still and that your life is going nowhere because there are people around you whose lives seem to be moving so fast.
They may be coupling up, starting new jobs, moving house, getting married, having kids, or something else entirely – all whilst your life barely changes at all.
It can feel like you are being left behind.
But it’s worth remembering that big changes come between longer periods of stability. So if someone is going through lots of life-changing events right now, chances are things will settle down for them in the near future.
And just because your life is settled now, it doesn’t mean big changes aren’t on their way – especially now that you have set firm goals.
So, please, stop comparing your life to the lives of others.
Life is not a race; life is a journey. And your journey will take you to different places to the journeys of your friend, your sibling, your colleague, and everyone else.
Those journeys sometimes go fast and sometimes go slow, but the speed is irrelevant. Some things are urgent, but most things are not, and more still are best enjoyed at a more leisurely pace anyway.
9. Stop putting pressure on yourself.
You may feel as though your life is going nowhere because you believe you should have a clear and obvious purpose; a sense of what you should be doing and how you should be living.
You, like many other people, may even spend a great deal of time contemplating what the purpose of life is.
But the big problem with this constant search for some guiding principle is that it puts you under a lot of pressure.
If you believe that life has a particular point to it, you are bound to feel like your life is lacking whatever that point is.
Who says you have to achieve X, Y, or Z for your life to mean something?
Who says you have to be a certain person and live a certain way?
The answer: no one.
If you feel like your life is a bit samey and not really what you had hoped, that’s one thing. It’s another thing altogether to have some grand expectations of an every-changing life full of some mystical element called purpose.
As we’ve discovered, that’s not how life works.
So ease up on yourself and stop demanding to live a life that is forever fulfilling and never dull.
10. Do take responsibility for your life.
On the flipside to not putting pressure on yourself is the importance of taking responsibility for your life.
Whilst you can’t control your entire life, you can control a lot.
First and foremost you have some control over your emotional reaction to the situations you find yourself in – including the situation of feeling like your life is going nowhere.
That is an emotion that can be challenged, and some of the other points in this article should help you to do that.
You can also be responsible for putting in the effort to achieve those goals we spoke of earlier.
Responsibility is important and it is empowering. When you realize that you have a big say in the outcome of a situation and in your wider life, you get a sense of the power that is in your hands.
That can initially be a little bit daunting, but it is also motivational because you realize that you are no longer a passenger in your life.
Responsibility means showing up in life and being an actor within it, not merely a spectator watching from afar. You have a role, you have a say, you have an influence that extends beyond your own bubble.
You matter. Your life and how you lead it matters. Understand this and you’ll find a way to make the changes in your life that will take you to where you wish to be.
11. Work with a life coach.
There’s a lot to digest in this article and a lot of steps to take. It can feel a little daunting to begin the journey.
But you don’t have to do it alone. You might wish to consider an accountability partner – a friend or family member who also has a goal they are working toward where you can help support each other and push each other if one or both of you takes their eye off the ball.
Alternatively, you could look to connect with a life coach who has the expertise and experience to help you figure out what path you wish to take and then guide you along it.
They will hold you accountable whilst also ensuring that you are moving at a pace that suits you and in a direction you are comfortable with.
If you think this is something you’d like to pursue, click here to locate a life coach near you, or one that can work virtually with you from the comfort of your own home.
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