We’ve all been there. That period of life where everything feels boring, routine, ordinary. Where we feel like our life is on a plateau, going nowhere, stuck. So what can we do to change that? How do we become unstuck?
Anyone can have that feeling of being stuck. It is personal to you and what you want from life. What way you want to live. You could be someone who isn’t satisfied with your life or even someone who once was. No matter your current situation it is still possible to feel stuck.
The reason you feel that way is because the patterns of behaviour you have, which may have helped you in the past, which have taken you to where you are now, are not as helpful to you as they once were.
As author Emily Maroutian said: “The reason why you can’t move forward is because you keep applying an old formula to a new level in your life.” Basically, what has got you here will not get you to where you want to be.
Her answer, and the real secret to becoming unstuck, is to “change the formula to get a different result.”
Look, I’m writing this as someone who was stuck for a very long time. Years in fact. I was stuck in a routine. A bad habit of smoking marijuana daily. I would go to a job I hated, come home to my wife and child, and spend the rest of my time smoking. I had no hope, no ambition, no joy for life.
That stuckness ultimately cost me my marriage. The fallout from that led me on an even darker path. The general depression I had felt all the years previous paled in comparison to the situation I then found myself in. Not only was I more depressed, my son was now devastated as well.
I carried heavy thoughts of worthlessness, shame, and guilt, while still smoking heavily. I was stuck in the worst possible way.
A few months after separation I realised this wasn’t acceptable. Both for myself and my son who lived with me full-time after his mum moved out. I had to do something. I had to make big changes. I had to become unstuck.
The things that helped me I hope will help you to. Just remember, that if you feel stuck, no matter in what way that is, you can do something about it.
You might not know it, or even feel it right now, but a better life awaits you. A life which you will be happier to live. A life that can begin right now. You just have to choose it.
How To Become Unstuck
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Nothing will ever change for the better when you are comfortable all the time. There’s nothing wrong with having a bit of comfort. We need that to relax. But when all you ever do are things that are comfortable, that is going to become very boring to you. It won’t stimulate you the way it used to.
There is no growth, or forward movement, no sense of feeling alive, without challenge. Challenge will force you to do something. It will help you realise that you are capable of much more than what you are doing now.
Real challenge is never easy, but you have to remember that easy is what has led you to becoming stuck. There is nothing to be learned from easy. Embrace your challenges for you will find your true self within them.
What is comfortable for one person may not be for another. You need to look for things that you know will challenge you. Things that maybe you are anxious or afraid of doing. Those feelings are all in your own mind. Face them and you will find yourself leaving your comfort zone and finding something within you so much more rewarding.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
– Helen Keller, The Open Door
Change Your Habits
The things that most define us are our habits. Especially the ones we do without any real thought. Mine was smoking all that weed.
Look at the things you do, or don’t do, habitually. Are they helping you or hindering you? Do they make you move forward or are they holding you back?
Changing your habits might take a bit of work. It all depends on the habits you are trying to change. The best advice is to start as small as possible. Do you really need to spend some much time on your phone, watching films and television programmes, surfing online? Could you decide to do something more worthwhile with your time instead?
“It’s never too late to change your life for the better. You don’t have to take huge steps to change your life. Making even the smallest changes to your daily routine can make a big difference to your life.”
– Roy T Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Change Your Mindset
Sometimes becoming unstuck can be as simple as changing the way you think. By changing your perspective, you change the way you feel about things and your approach to life.
There’s a great book by Carol S Dweck called ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ where she talks about the two basic mindsets we can have. A Fixed mindset or a Growth mindset.
The Fixed mindset believes that your qualities are carved in stone. You only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, a certain moral code, and god help you if you feel deficient in any of those.
The Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are something you can cultivate through your efforts. That everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
If you start to believe that you can change the qualities about you that have led you to where you are now then you will see that it is just as possible to change your current situation into one you would be much happier with.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
– Wayne W Dyer
If you don’t exercise. You really should. Exercise is something that really helps. In fact, the two things on this list that really helped me after my separation were changing my mindset and exercise.
The benefits of exercise have been well documented. It makes you feel happier, increases your energy levels, helps with brain health and memory, and also helps with relaxation and sleep quality.
Usually after exercise, you feel much more positive about things. Working up a sweat helps release any tensions you may be carrying.
The great thing about exercise is that there are so many options available to you. Go to the gym, take up running, try a new sport.
By doing any of these things it also helps you break out of the current routine you find yourself stuck in.
Sometimes just appreciating the things we do have in our lives rather than looking at the things we don’t can make all the difference.
Each night before you go to bed think of 3 things you are happy to have in your life. Learn to appreciate the good aspects of your life. Whether that is good health, having a great family, a loving partner, a good friend, a great job.
Remember that some of the things in your life that you take for granted could be the things that someone else could only dream about.
Recognising you have things to be thankful for, and expressing that gratitude, even if it’s just to yourself, makes you realise that things may not be quite as bad as you first imagined.
A little warning
Ok, so you’ve done all the things you needed to get out of that rut you were in. You’re finally unstuck. The reality is you are not quite finished yet.
Getting unstuck is one thing. Remaining unstuck is an ongoing process. The things you have done. The things that have helped you become unstuck, may become the things that somewhere down the line cause you to get stuck once more.
Once those habits and routines start to get comfortable. Once you begin to settle back into that new comfort zone you have made for yourself. If you stop making changes, they too will become the thing you are stuck in.
Being unstuck is an ongoing process. It requires you to be ever vigilant and proactive. You don’t have to change things all the time. But just remind yourself to do enough little extra or different things to keep your life feeling fresh. Don’t stop challenging yourself.
Simply put, it’s a matter of living, feeling alive, and not allowing yourself to get too settled with what you are doing.
Your life can be as magical and wonderful as you want it to be. But that life isn’t just going to come to you. No one is going to give it to you. You have to put some effort into it and get it for yourself.
The beauty of it all is that it is worth the effort. It’s your life. It’s up to you how you want to live it. Just get up, get going, get yourself unstuck.