• If you’ve ever felt “stuck,” you are not alone; many of us experience this feeling at some point in our lives and for different reasons.
  • The problem is that understanding why you feel this way isn’t always easy; however, you can get out of this rut and discover what’s 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 and what makes you happy.
  • Put effort into realizing your dreams and deciding what you want to work toward in life; don’t just wait for your dreams to fall into your lap.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone: This might be intimidating, but taking risks can help you to feel alive and fulfilled.
  • Explore your literal dreams and see if there are any clues within them pertaining to what you really want out of life.
  • Finally, determine your values, let them guide you, and when in doubt, do something kind for someone else. 

Have you ever felt “stuck” before? In other words, have you ever felt stagnant—like you’re wandering through life with no real direction, progress, or fulfillment? You may be employed, surrounded by friends, and even able to do healthy things, such as go to the gym at least every other day. Some people might look at you and think you’ve got it all figured out. Yet in reality, you’re lacking fulfillment. Lately, you may feel like your life is lackluster and are yearning for something more.

In a lot of cases, it may seem difficult to identify where these “stuck” feelings really come from—so it’s important to take proactive steps to get out of this rut and discover what is missing from your life and what makes you feel content.

1) Focus on what makes you happy.

Stop focusing on everyone around you. We’re all guilty of feeling a little envious of our friends or the people on our social feeds who are boasting of their recent successes: their promotion, their engagement, their pregnancy announcement. Tanvi Mathew, licensed professional counselor, says you must 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) Realize your dreams.

Do everything in your power to realize your dreams—don’t just wait for them to dawn on you, Just as we must put in the work to achieve our goals, we need to put a little effort into deciding what it is we want and hope to accomplish. 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) Get out of your comfort zone.

Taking risks is intimidating for a lot of people—we’d rather stay inside our bubbles and understandably so. But stepping outside of your comfort zone can go a long way in helping you find greater fulfillment. 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) Explore your subconscious.

You can also benefit from paying attention to your dreams (this time we’re talking literally, not figuratively). Often, our dreams have clues as to what’s going on in our subconscious, which might point you in the right direction of finding that fulfillment you’re looking for. Laura Petiford, a licensed marriage and family therapist, explains: “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) Let your values guide you.

You can also climb out of your rut by identifying your core values, which should guide your direction in life. Here’s what Licensed Psychologist Lisa Larsen has to say about this: “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.”

6) Serve others.

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.”

Feeling stuck in life can be confusing, frustrating, even saddening. Fortunately, you can take it upon yourself to find meaning in life and get out of this rut. Hopefully, the above tips help you do so. If they don’t, consider working with a life coach who specializes in helping people find greater success and fulfillment in life.