- If you’ve ever felt “stuck,” you are not alone; many of us experience this feeling at some point in our lives and for various reasons.
- The problem is that understanding why you feel this way isn’t usually a piece of cake; however, you can work to get yourself out of this rut and discover what was missing from your life in the process.
- First, stop paying attention to what others are doing: you should turn the focus inward and look at what you want, what you need, and what you care about.
- Also, challenge the misconception that happiness just falls into your lap—it doesn’t, we all have to work at being happy.
- Furthermore, step outside of your comfort zone, listen to your subconscious, and try doing something kind for someone else—these less obvious strategies just might do the job.
Have you ever felt “stuck” before? What I mean is have you ever felt like you were wandering through life with no real direction? Consider Jenna. Sure, she’s employed, she has some good friends to hang out with in her free time, and she even manages to make it to the gym a few times a week… but she doesn’t feel fulfilled. She used to be in love with her life. She felt happy and accomplished, like she had a real purpose. Now, she feels like her life is lacking. And she yearns for something more.
It’s hard to pinpoint the root of Jenna’s discontentment. In fact, it often is difficult to identify the cause of this “stuck” feeling. But Jenna—and anyone else who’s experiencing these feelings—can take proactive steps to get out of this rut, and in the process, discover what was missing from their life. Don’t worry, we won’t send you off with no further instruction. A few professionals are here to offer their best tips in hopes of helping you find your path:
1) Stop paying attention to what others are doing.
Tanvi Mathew, licensed professional counselor, says you must first realize that what makes others happy won’t necessarily make you happy. “The first thing people have to do is explore and understand what it is that they’re looking for and what it will take for them to feel happy. The biggest barrier to being able to do this is we’re looking at everyone else’s accomplishments and how they’ve acquired happiness,” she explains. “People have to spend less time on looking at others and more time reflecting on their wants and needs to begin building the foundation and paving a path with direction to lead a more fulfilling life.”
2) Challenge the narrative.
It can also help to do a quick reality check, in understanding that our dreams and our happiness don’t just dawn on us—you have to go out there and pursue them. Sarah Epstein, a marriage and family therapist, explains: “There’s this narrative out there that we have a dream and then we pursue it. So many of us end up waiting for that thunderbolt of inspiration when in reality, most of us figure out what we want through trial and error. You have to be willing to try new things and notice which aspects of it appeal to you and which don’t. Then start to narrow and search,” she says.
3) Take some risks.
Additionally, you should go against the grain and take some risks. Paul Levin—a certified hypnotherapist, certified NLP practitioner, and founder of I Deserve a Perfect Life—says “feeling stuck in life is the result of living your life in a comfort zone, while knowing you could be doing more, living better, being bigger.” He says this is an unpleasant and unhealthy way to live life, yet so many do it and refuse to change. Why? “Because the solution is to get out of your comfort zone, and doing that is scary. There is risk involved in stepping outside your comfort zone, but it is in that risk, that we feel alive.”
4) Tune into your subconscious.
Laura Petiford, a licensed marriage and family therapist, recommends taking some pointers from your subconscious. “Sometimes our subconscious is way ahead of the rest of us as to what it is that we need to attend to,” she explains. “Keep a pen and tablet next to your bed and write down your dreams first thing upon awakening. There are some great websites to help you interpret anything that doesn’t jump out at you. Let your sleeping hours guide you to a more authentic wakeful life.”
5) Identify your core values.
You can also climb out of your rut by thinking about and identifying your core values. These can then guide your next actions, as explained by Licensed Psychologist Lisa Larsen: “My advice for someone feeling stuck and directionless is to examine what their values are. What is most important to them? It might help to think about what gives their lives meaning and work backward from there. Once they have identified a few core values that are most important to them, they can figure out what activities fulfill or exemplify those values, or use those values in their lives.” Lisa Larsen
6) Do something kind for someone else.
Finally, you can help yourself by prioritizing helping others: “Feed someone, teach someone, clothe someone, hug someone, do something good for someone. As a life coach, I focus on purpose and calling; often, my clients feel stuck and are searching for direction. When they feel stuck, my advice is to do something for someone else,” says Life Coach Charlene Corpus. “Often, when we feel stuck, it’s because we’re focusing on ourselves: ‘Why don’t I have this?’ ‘Why am I lost?’ ‘What’s wrong with me?’ Living a truly fulfilled life isn’t about what we can do for ourselves, it’s about what we can do for others.”