Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out. – Vance Havner
Are You Kind of Feeling Stuck?
So you’re feeling kind of stuck at the moment. Your life is stagnating and you’re going nowhere fast. Yes, of course, you have all these goals you would desperately like to achieve, however for one reason or another nothing is happening. Somewhere along the track you’ve lost your motivation and drive and your life seems to be at a standstill.
This place you’re at, isn’t very pleasant. You feel as though you have so much potential and so much to live up to, and yet there seems to be no forward movement. You probably often question what in the world is going on? How did I get myself into this mess? Well, there are actually some very valid reasons why you’re feeling stuck. Understanding these reasons can help you become aware of how you got yourself into this position, but awareness is only the first step to change.
Change only occurs the moment you decide to make a change in your life. However, for this to happen you must believe that you have the power within to make the necessary changes in how you think, act and interpret your circumstances. Stagnation is only temporary if you take it upon yourself to make changes for the better. It is however permanent if you give your power away and don’t take the initiative to move forward with purpose.
Reasons Why You’re Stuck
There are actually some very valid reasons why you’re feeling stuck. In fact, you are responsible for this situation. There’s no one to blame but yourself. Somewhere along the line, you made the choices and decisions that led you to this moment in your life and now you are suffering the consequences. So let’s try and rectify this situation once and for all and find out why exactly you are feeling stuck.
Here are some reasons why you might be feeling stuck:
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you constantly worry about what might happen. The worrying is preoccupying your thoughts and as a result, you hesitate to move forward.
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you consistently indulge in unproductive habits. These habits could be watching endless hours of television, mindlessly surfing the internet and a plethora of other things that are robbing you of your livelihood.
Maybe you are feeling stuck as a result of the constant disappointment you have suffered. You expected so much more of yourself, but things didn’t go your way. You made mistakes and failed. As a result, you’re disappointed and somewhat disheartened with how things have turned out, and this keeps you stuck in the same place with very little forward movement. It’s a pity you don’t learn from these disappointments to try again another way.
Limited Hope for Future
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you have limited hope for the future. All these disappointments have made you feel helpless, and this helplessness is now manifesting in your life as stagnation. Your thoughts are on all the things that could go wrong. You are essentially wallowing in pessimism and it’s eating you alive from the inside-out. If only you saw things in a different light. If only you could expand your perspective, then maybe, just maybe you might see that there is a flicker of hope at the end of the tunnel that signals a way out of these doldrums.
Blurry Vision of Future
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you have a blurry vision of your future. In fact, you have very little direction in life. You set no goals, you don’t have a purpose for living, and as a result, nothing seems to happen in your life. There’s essentially nothing in life that gets you excited — at least nothing that you’re consistently working on. You have no active passions, and as a result, there’s nothing in your life that provides you with the enthusiasm you need to take positive action.
Unwilling to Take Responsibility
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you are unwilling to take responsibility for your decisions and actions. You constantly make excuses, blame other people and circumstances for your problems, and complain all day about how unfair life has been.
Physically and Mentally Drained
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you’re physically and mentally drained as a result of ongoing stress and overwhelm. These emotions have taken over your life and as a result, you absolutely have no energy to pursue anything meaningful and rewarding. You are in essence a slave to your emotions, and this is the reason why your life is stagnating.
Lack of Focus
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you lack focus. You lack focus because there’s either so much going on in your life at the moment that you’re simply unable to focus on your highest priority activities, or because you haven’t taken the time to clarify what it is you really want out of life. You have absolutely no priorities, and without priorities, you have no direction, and without direction, you just keep spinning in a circle. Yes, you’re moving, but that movement is not forward.
Lack of Self-Belief
Maybe you are feeling stuck because you lack self-belief. You don’t believe in yourself or in your abilities to make things happen. This lack of self-belief could very well stem from numerous fears that have taken a hold of you. You’re unable to take the necessary actions because you fear that you are not capable of reaching your desired expectations. All this makes you rather indecisive, and as a result, you make some forward movement, but then crawl right back into your comfort zone.
Lack of Inspiration
Just maybe you are feeling stuck because you simply lack inspiration. Yes, you might very well have things that you are absolutely passionate about. However, these passions are weak because they don’t inspire you to pursue them with zest and vigor. It’s like driving an old rusty car. Yes it moves forward, but it could break down any moment. Unless you discover new ways to find the inspiration you seek, then, unfortunately, your car will always be old and rusty, and you will remain stuck in a place you rather not be.
Having a clear understanding why you’re stuck means that it’s now time to get unstuck and move your life forward with purpose. Here is a four-step process you can use to help you get unstuck:
Step 1: Acknowledge What Needs to Change
Your first step towards making any change is to acknowledge that things actually need to change. Unless you acknowledge that things aren’t the way you want them to be at this very moment, then you’ll have no reason to change, and therefore no reason to break out of this stagnation.
Once you have acknowledged that changes need to be made, take the time to reflect on your life and search for patterns. These patterns will help you to identify reasons why your life is the way it is at the moment. These patterns may also help you find answers that will allow you to break out of this stagnated state. Ask yourself:
What is causing my stagnation?
What excuses am I making?
What patterns am I seeing?
What do I expect should happen?
Your excuses are only fueling your stuck state. It’s, of course, important to acknowledge these excuses, but then it’s even more important to throw them out the door. You will never get unstuck if you continue to make excuses for your life. Only by taking full responsibility for your life and circumstances, will you create the momentum you need to move forward.
Step 2: Gain Needed Clarity
Your second step is to gain some clarity about your circumstances and the behaviors you’re potentially indulging in. Ask yourself:
What specifically am I doing?
Who am I doing it for?
Why am I doing this?
At times you might, in fact, be stuck for all the wrong reasons. You’re stuck because maybe you are doing something for someone else, or for someone else’s benefit. If this sounds like you, then quickly figure out why you are doing what you’re doing. You might even find that there are no valid reasons. And if that’s the case, then stop doing these things and break away from this stuck state.
Given all this, now it’s time to figure out what you would prefer to do instead. Ask yourself:
What would I prefer to do instead?
What are my goals?
What are my aspirations?
Unless you figure out what you prefer to do instead, how are you ever going to break free from this stuck state? You will never find the treasure if you don’t know what it is you are looking for.
These goals and aspirations should now provide you with a sense of direction that will help you get unstuck. However, there are still probably some very valid reasons why you are currently feeling stuck. Your goals might always have been there, however you neglected to pursue them because something was holding you back. Ask yourself:
What has been holding me back all this time?
What are the reasons I am feeling stuck?
Do I have any fears that have held me back?
What specific fears might be keeping me stuck?
What about my habits?
What unproductive habits do I indulge in?
How are these habits hurting me?
What new habits could I develop that would help support my goals?
Gaining clarity about the specific habits and fears that might be holding you back, will give you the insight you need to make positive changes in your life. Without this clarity you will be lost — not knowing how to move forward.
Step 3: Reevaluate What’s Most Important
Your third step is to reevaluate three important things in your life: Your life purpose, your core values, and your social circle. Ask yourself:
What is my life purpose?
Is my life purpose right for me?
Is it right for me at this very moment?
Does it need to be modified in any way?
Your life’s purpose is what will get you up early in the morning and force you to stay up late at night. It’s something that you’re intrinsically passionate about, and something you will fight for despite the obstacles you might face. However, you may very well need to make some modifications if your life’s purpose no longer brings you the enthusiasm it once did. A clearly defined and passionate life purpose may be all you need to help break free from your stuck state.
Once your life purpose has been clarified, have a think about your core values. Ask yourself:
What do I value most in life?
Why is this important?
What else do I value most in life?
Your core values will determine how you prioritize your life. If these priorities have meaning for you and are also aligned with your life’s purpose, then this will help you to find the motivation you need to break free from your stuck state. If on the other hand there are some conflicts here, then you might need to reevaluate your core values and priorities moving forward.
Finally, let’s take a look at your social circle. Ask yourself:
Who is weighing me down?
How are they holding me back?
Your social circle includes your family, friends, peers, and colleagues. These people will often have very good intentions for you. However, their good intentions might, in fact, be weighing you down and keeping you in a stuck state. This is especially true if you are doing certain things to please other people in order to meet their expectations of you. Gaining some clarity about your social relationships will help you to determine the best course of action moving forward.
Step 4: Create a Plan of Action
Your fourth and final step is to create a plan of action moving forward that will help you to get unstuck and create the momentum you need to achieve your desired outcomes.
Before you lay down a plan for getting unstuck, take the time to do the following:
- Create a list of activities you’re passionate about.
- Create a list of activities that support your core values.
- Create a list of ways to get unstuck.
Listing down activities that you’re passionate about and that support your core values will help you to figure out how you should be prioritizing your time moving forward. On the other hand, creating a list of ways to get unstuck will build the foundations of your plan of action. Use this list to brainstorm ways you could potentially move forward out of your stuck state. Then ask yourself:
What one small step could I take today that would help me get unstuck?
Don’t hesitate. Take immediate action to get yourself out of your current predicament and moving forward with purpose.
If down the track you find that your momentum has slowed, then it could very well be due to a lack of urgency on your part. Doing things without urgency means that you don’t have enough reasons to make the necessary changes in your life. In such instances, you will need to create urgency. Ask yourself:
Why must I get out of this rut?
Why is it important to make this change?
Why is it important to make this change right now?
The more reasons you find to get unstuck, the higher levels of motivation and urgency you will have moving forward.
Getting Unstuck Once Again
Okay, so you have made good progress along your journey and managed to get unstuck. However, things happened and you have now lost your way again. You’ve now suddenly realized you’ve stuck once again. Your life is stagnating, and there appears to be no forward momentum. If you’re finding yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do immediately that will hopefully provide you with the solutions you are seeking.
Let Things Go
If you’re suddenly feeling stuck, then it’s very possible that you’re holding onto things that are keeping you within this unpleasant place. Yes, you might have made mistakes and failed along the way. This has consequently made you doubt yourself, and you may now be living with the regret of making certain choices and decisions. All this has caused you to feel somewhat resentful as you observe others doing so well. And so you blame and criticize yourself for being so foolish, and as a result, you begin indulging in the habits of procrastination, of over-complicating things, which ultimately leads to perfectionism. But no matter what, nothing seems to work, and you end up getting lost in a sea of excuses.
All these things are holding you back and keeping you stuck. LET EVERYTHING GO IMMEDIATELY. Mistakes and failure are there to be learned from. There are no regrets if you gain value from every experience. And there are certainly no excuses if you take full responsibility for your life. Just let everything listed here go. When you do, you will quickly find that a heavy burden has suddenly been raised from upon your shoulders. And this could be all you need to get yourself out of this stuck state.
Expand the Possibilities
The reason why you’re feeling stuck is because you have closed yourself off to new perspectives and experiences. From your perspective, the world is looking exactly the same as it did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, because you’re not open to new possibilities.
Take time to expand the possibilities by learning new skills, by gaining new insights, by exposing yourself to new knowledge and information, and by opening yourself up to new experiences, unique environments, and interesting people. All of these things will help you to expand your possibilities and likewise expose you to new opportunities that will help you to finally dig yourself out of your stuck state.
You’re suddenly feeling stuck because you’re thinking short-term. You’re getting lost in all the little things. All the details are eating you alive and creating your stuck state. You’ve lost your connection with the bigger picture — with your life’s purpose. It’s time for you to re-connect with that picture, to think long-term, and to consider all the possibilities that exist along this journey you’re on. This shift of perspective might be all you need to get unstuck.
You’re stuck once again because you’ve lost that deep connection to your playful childhood self. You are taking things too seriously, and as a result, you have lost that excitement and passion you need to maintain forward momentum. In such instances, you need to tap right back to that playful side of yourself and become a lot more curious about the world around you. One way to do this is to begin experimenting and trying new things.
Take a risk, do something scary, challenging, random and different. Focus again on your passions and re-calibrate your direction. It doesn’t matter if you fail or make mistakes. Your life is an experiment. Learn from all these experiences, step outside your comfort zone, and embrace everything that life throws your way. Living this way will most certainly guarantee that you never remain stuck for long.
In order to get unstuck permanently, you need to build ongoing momentum that will remove you so far beyond your stuck state that the only thing remaining will be an old distant memory about how life once used to be. To create this momentum, you will need to begin implementing a few important things:
Shake Up Your Routine
Begin by shaking up your routine and methods of working consistently over time. Stagnation often results when you continue to do the same thing over and over again for an extended period of time. This regular routine may give you a sense of comfort and security, however, it could be hurting your creativity and forward momentum.
Connect with Inspiring People
Find people who will continuously inspire and keep you on your toes. These are the kind of people that always tend to challenge you and force you to step out of your comfort zone. They are the kind of people that will open you up to new perspectives while encouraging you to experience life in new and profound ways.
Find Ways to Motivate Yourself
Ongoing motivation is a critical component that will help you to sustain the momentum you need moving forward. Without motivation, you will fall back to indulging in unhelpful and limiting habits that will only keep you stuck. However, with the right kind of motivation, you will always find reasons to keep going no matter what obstacles or setbacks you might face along your journey.
To find the motivation you need, simply tap into your passions and continue to find valid reasons to keep moving forward and challenging yourself on a consistent basis. Creating a sense of urgency while working on specific projects or tasks can also help you to sustain high levels of motivation in the long-run.
Another way to tap into your motivation is to go out of your way to make everything you do more exciting and fun. Have fun with every experience. Play with projects and tasks as if you were a kid. It’s this playful approach that will help keep you interested and motivated along your journey.
Get Enough Rest
It’s absolutely critical that you don’t burn yourself out. The moment you become too stressed and overwhelmed is the moment you will find yourself stuck once again in a place you don’t want to be.
Stress and overwhelm are a part of life. They are in some ways an unavoidable part of life. You must, therefore, learn to manage these emotions effectively and get the necessary separation you need from certain activities to rest your body and mind.
Rest by getting enough sleep and relaxation. However, at the same time exercise to help keep your energy levels high and your mind focused and primed at all times.
Find Your Courage
Become more courageous in thought and action. Your courage will help you to try new things, take advantage of opportunities, and continuously live outside your comfort zone. It’s the act of living outside your comfort zone that will keep you unstuck and ready to create your life with purpose. However, in order to find the courage, you must also maintain a curious nature. When you’re curious you will tend to try new things because your curiosity will encourage you to find the answers to questions that are nagging on your mind. And subsequently, you might need a little courage in order to find the answers to these questions.
Get a Makeover
Getting a makeover in order to get unstuck seems pretty silly on the surface. However, one of the reasons why you’re stuck could very well be tied to your self-image. You see yourself in a certain way, and this keeps you stuck. In fact, this person that you see yourself as has all these limiting and unhelpful habits. You naturally relate to this person and this brings you a sense of comfort. If this is true in your case, then maybe it’s time for a makeover.
Get a full body makeover. Get a modern haircut, pluck those unwanted hairs from your body, and purchase some fancy new clothes that will immediately make you feel like a brand new person. Once your transformation is complete, start acting like this new person by adopting new habits, different thought patterns, making surprising decisions, and so much more.
Given all this, be aware that it’s important in the long-run that you never allow your self-image to be intrinsically tied to the way you look externally. The confidence you show externally shouldn’t be tied to the clothes you wear or the way you look. It must be tied to how you feel about yourself no matter what you look like at any given moment. The makeover is a short-term band-aid strategy you can use to give yourself a quick boost, however, it’s not an effective long-term strategy for a lack of self-esteem.
Volunteer Your Time to a Good Cause
Volunteering your time to a good cause or a charity will expose you to new ideas, people, places, and experiences. This keeps your life interesting and provides you with the exposure you need to gain new perspectives that could essentially lead to unique opportunities.
Say Yes, Yes and Yes
When someone asks you to do something scary, say YES, When someone asks you to go on an adventure, say YES. When someone asks you to help them out with something, say YES. In fact, just say “yes” more often throughout the day. Say “yes” to things you wouldn’t normally do, just to find out what the experience is like. This constant exposure could potentially provide you with access to many different tools, people, skills and resources that will keep you out of a stuck state.
The sad thing about all of this is that many times we often say “no” to so many things. As a result, you miss out on a great many new, challenging and interesting experiences that could potentially open up a world of opportunity for you. Don’t allow yourself to be one of these people. Say “yes” more often today, and use it to create the momentum you need to stay unstuck for good.
Hire an Accountability Partner
Hire a person who will keep you accountable for your choices, decisions, and actions. Tell them all about the goals you are working towards and the steps you will take to get there. Then ask them to hold you accountable for attaining your desired outcomes. If along the way you slip and fall back into a stuck state, they will hopefully be there to help you get back on track. If they’re not there when you need them most, then hire someone else.
Alternatively, hold someone else accountable for their actions. The act of holding someone else accountable can be the catalyst to help you make positive changes in your own life.
Create a Bucket List
A bucket list is a list of things you write down that you would like to do over a lifetime. The list can include small things that won’t require much effort on your part, and it can also include big things that may encourage you to go well out of your way to tick them off your list. It doesn’t really matter what items your list contains, as long as they are things you really want to do in your life — even just once. Fill it up with stuff you’re passionate about, with adventures you can go on, and just make it a whole lot of fun.
There is no limit to how many items you should or shouldn’t have on your bucket list, just write down everything you can think of right now, and add other items to this list in the future. Then over time start checking items off your bucket list once you have successfully completed them.
A bucket list is a wonderful tool that will keep you from getting stuck, because each time you are feeling a little stagnant in your life, you will just turn to your bucket list for ideas that could potentially help you to gain new experiences, expand your horizons, and provide you with the momentum you need to get your life moving once again in the right direction.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 3 Ways for Getting Unstuck in Your Career @ Forbes
- 7 Strategies for Getting Unstuck @ Huffington Post
- 9 Reasons You’re Stuck Where You Are @ Marc and Angel
- 10 Things to do When You Feel Stuck @ Psychology Today
- 16 Ways for Getting Unstuck @ Tiny Buddha
- 25 Soulful Ways to Get Out of a Rut @ The Bridgemaker
- 40 Reasons Why You’re Stuck, and How to Get Out of Your Rut @ Huffington Post
- 62 Tips for Getting Unstuck @ Robin Sharma
- How to Get More Done When You Feel Stuck @ Penelope Trunk
- How to Get Quickly Unstuck and Start Building Momentum @ Shake Off the Grind
- In a Rut? Six Tips for Getting Out @ Wise Bread