Unless you’re fortunate enough to be one of those rare Perpetual Go-Getters, it is part of the human condition that we meet roadblocks in life. These roadblocks come in all different forms, but the outcome is often the same – feeling stuck, overwhelmed, drained, and unable to move forward in life.
If we’re aware that we feel this way, then that in and of itself is a gift and a place to start. If you’re uncomfortable with where you are in life, be encouraged. That means that growth and change are around the corner should you choose to step into them.
Below are some ways to propel yourself out of this state of stuck-ness. I know how discouraging, overwhelming, and lonely this place can feel.
Sometimes getting moving again can be a matter of going through the motions at first… Dusting yourself off and putting one foot in front of the other, gaining traction until you are once again a body in motion.
#1. Get clear and make a decision
What is it you want and why? More money? A better living situation? A relationship? Your time back? To lose weight? Why? What will that do for you? Where are you stuck exactly? Getting crystal clear on what it is you want in life will begin to fill in the blanks of how to get there.
Being clear on what you want is important, but your ‘why’ is even more crucial. It’s the vehicle that will drive you toward your goals – if it’s big enough and meaningful enough to you. Is it your family? Wanting to live longer to be around for them? Your freedom?
Ask yourself: what would it take for me to feel productive? (Happy? Loved? Healthy?) Thinking in verb/ ‘doing-terms,’ what would be happening during a day that you felt incredible about how you spent your time?
Commit these things to paper. Write out what your life will look like in the present tense as if it’s already that way.
For example: “I wake up feeling energized and excited about my day. I love the work I do and go about it with joy and eagerness. I put only healthy things in my body. I am grateful and excited to get my exercise done. I wear clothing that makes me feel good/ beautiful. I love the home I live in, it has…”
You get the idea. Let your imagination run with this and tap into your dreams and senses regarding what it is you want. How does it feel/ look/ sound/ smell/ taste to live your ideal life? What does it include and focus on?
Then make a decision.
Decide that this is truly what you want and that you are going to move toward this reality no matter what it takes. The power is in the decision.
I’d also encourage you to read over what you have written every day, at least once. Read it with passion, with emotion, with zeal! If you really want to go pro, look yourself in the eye in a mirror while you do this. This will not only keep your goal/ dream/ vision in the front of your mind, but it will also help bring it to reality. Which leads me to my next point…
#2. Make your dream a part of your daily reality
While it may feel a little silly (kind of like the mirror thing I mentioned above), I highly, highly recommend putting visual reminders around you about what it is you’re trying to achieve or change. For me, one of these is a list of my ‘whys,’ meaning why I do what I do, next to my bathroom mirror where I see it several times a day.
I have several other lists and reminders around my house, taped to cabinets, the refrigerator… Wherever I can see them throughout my day in order to keep them fresh in my mind and for when I just need some re-focusing.
Seeing something constantly will cause you to think about it constantly. Thoughts become things, right?
That is a whole ‘nother post, but on that point briefly – thoughts are energy and do become reality. It is a truth that what we dwell on is what we create in our life. So, also be aware of where your mind goes when it wanders and keep those thoughts in check.
Do you think of your future with excitement and eagerness or with anxiety and an accompanying pit of anguish in your stomach? We can control what we think about and how we think about it, and as a result, our feelings and actions will follow.
An important question to ask yourself as you begin this journey: how are you spending your time? Are you binge-watching Netflix and doing the same things you’ve always done?
Immersing yourself in your goals is so powerful. By this, I mean becoming a student (and action taker) of whatever it is you’re striving for. Maybe that means taking a course, watching some Youtube videos, reading up, listening to motivating and educational audio while you drive, and or joining a group of like-minded individuals.
We put our energy and time into so many things that may or may not really matter in the long run. Your future, your joy, your success, you, deserve to be made a priority.
Depending on how important your goal is to you, breathing, eating, and sleeping it, making it your obsession, will bring it to the surface of reality if you just stick with it. Having said this, it’s also important to be realistic and kind to yourself. Remember that feeling overwhelmed and like a failure is what often leads to feeling stuck and discouraged in the first place, and that brings me to my next point about goals.
#3. Make goals and set timelines
Create SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-sensitive. Write them down and put them in front of you, all over the place. Give yourself timelines with clear, actionable steps and stick to them. Enough said.
#4. Create support and accountability
When I used to compete in figure and bodybuilding contests, I would never tell anyone I was getting ready for my next show until I was 1000% ready to do it. That meant going all in with upping my training, a clean diet all the way, and so on. There was something about ‘saying it out loud’ to really anyone that made that shift in my mind to fully commit and go for it (my last show was a first place by the way!).
I used the same strategy when I decided to become a freelance writer. I began telling my family, friends, the lady at the bank… And I am definitely all in.
Putting something in writing makes you accountable to you. Saying it out loud to other people creates accountability to others as well (depending on who you tell).
A word about that – be thoughtful during this time about who you let in on your dream. If you know that Auntie Pearl is a major nay-sayer, leave her off the list for now. Be kind and sensitive to the fact that you are coming out of a rut and need support, not negativity, around you during this time.
Lastly on this subject… As a former licensed psychotherapist, well, I’m a believer in therapy. Go figure. Working with the right therapist can be a profound experience regarding support, accountability, and perhaps digging through what it is that got you stuck in the first place.
Part of depression is a lack of drive to do much of anything and can mean a loss of interest in things that used to interest you. The right therapist/ counselor can help you identify and work through this if it’s relevant.
#5. Consider getting a coach, mentor, or trainer
Depending on your desired outcome, getting the right individual to help guide and lead you through the process can make all the difference in the world.
#6. Visualize your success
I know, we’ve all heard this before. I think for that reason this strategy loses some of its impact when it gets mentioned, when in fact it’s one of the most effective ways to move toward a goal.
Dedicate time daily to visualizing your outcome but don’t just “picture it in your mind” (this can be part of your morning routine, read on). As I recommended earlier regarding writing down your desired outcome, engage all your senses when you visualize. Feel what it will feel like when you’re “there” – see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, hear it.
#7. Look at your morning routine
Do you have one? Did you know that what you think about in the first 10 seconds after waking can dictate the tone of your whole day? Try and take notice of what your waking thoughts are. Pretty interesting stuff.
My favorite resource for a great morning routine is Hal Elrod’s “Miracle Morning.” A quick and potentially life-altering read.
#8. What about your nighttime routine?
What are you doing when you go to sleep? Watching old Sopranos episodes? What you do and think about before you go to sleep can have a big impact on how you start off in the morning.
Consider using binaural beats (for a good definition of this check out this site, basically these are tones that tune your brain into different frequencies conducive to rest, productivity, focus, etc. – you need to be ok falling asleep with headphones on to take advantage of this strategy), subliminal messaging, and or guided meditation to fall asleep to.
I like Micheal Seely’s “Guided Meditation for Releasing Subconscious Blockages,” as well as Vortex Success’ materials. Youtube is full of great free resources for these.
#9. Consider your diet
Ok, this is the athlete in me talking. I know, however, that when I put better quality content in my body, I get way better quality content out in all aspects. Physically, emotionally, creatively.
We know that diet is directly linked to mental function and can even contribute to a depressed mood, etc. If you’re going to go all-in with pursuing what you want in life, well, then you should go all in.
#10. Create affirmations in the form of questions
These are called “afformations.” This is a whole topic unto itself, but basically this involves asking yourself things like, “How will I become financially independent in the shortest, most enjoyable way possible?”. Make a list of all your goals and ask yourself these questions daily.
This concept is based on the theory that our brains are wired to seek answers to the questions we ask. So, if you’re asking things like why do I feel so crappy? or why do I keep failing? that is what your mind will focus on. Ask your brain the right things, and it will seek the answers.
#11. Be willing to be uncomfortable…
…And, get honest about what you’re willing to sacrifice in pursuit of your goals. TV? Certain foods? Unfocused internet time? Discipline and taking massive action are crucial parts of this journey. Be relentless in the pursuit of your goals.
#12. Your beliefs
Lastly, and this may be a bit controversial, but here goes… What is your belief system? Is there something in your life that you can tap into to help you create momentum during this time? God? The Universe? Source? Community?
It can be easy to compartmentalize our beliefs when we’re overwhelmed and stuck. Getting back to the core of what you believe and seeking support, guidance, and focus there can be a grounding and powerful way to move forward.
People become stuck and stagnant in their lives for a multitude of reasons. Some people stay that way and live day in and day out in a state of numb complacency. Others choose a different path.
Sometimes feeling this way can follow a tragic life event like a loss, divorce, being fired, etc. There is such a thing as post-traumatic growth, a phenomenon in which some people rise up and become even greater than their ‘former selves’ despite adversity. The question becomes, is life living you, or are you living life?
The first step is recognizing that we don’t want to live in a stagnant place anymore, then the achievement of clarity regarding what it is we truly want and why followed by a firm resolve to commit and go for it.
I won’t summarize all the strategies I’ve listed above, and it is by no means an all-inclusive list. I do want to point out a theme though… Immersion.
Immerse yourself in the process of growth and the pursuit of your dreams. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and you know the rest. The first steps can be the hardest, but with one step after another momentum begins and what follows can be the history that you create.