Article by Wendy McCance
It’s happened to all of us. You are powering along feeling motivated, then one day, you hit the wall. You feel stuck in life. You have no idea how you got there, and yet, the motivation is gone, anxiety is creeping in and you have no idea how to get past this feeling that’s overtaking you.
I’ve seen friends and family members struggle with getting stuck. God knows I’ve been stuck more times in my life than I can count. The question that always seems to come up is how do I get myself back up? How do I motivate myself when it doesn’t seem to help my situation?
That last sentence, motivating oneself when it doesn’t seem to help is what generally gets us to that place of immobilization. What do you do when you have a goal and you feel like you are spinning your wheels?
First of all, understand that this is actually not a bad thing to happen. Your body is forcing you to stop and reexamine what you are doing. If you aren’t moving right along towards your goal then something isn’t right. Something is keeping you from the goal. You just need to find out what it is.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when you feel stuck in life:
1. Do I really want to attain my goal?
I know it may sound like a silly question to ask, but here’s an example. A woman is raising her children and money is tight. She decides she should probably go out and get a job to contribute to the family finances. She feels motivated, puts out multiple applications and mentions she is looking for a job to friends and family. Months go by and she is still not working. Sure there are interviews and even job offers, but the hours sound long or the job sounds boring or what if arrangements need to be made to pick up the kids from school?
If you aren’t all in, you won’t reach your goal. When there are that many reasons in your head that keep you from taking a job, it isn’t that there isn’t a job available. It isn’t that you are going about applying for a job incorrectly. Quit beating yourself up and accept the fact that you are having doubts about your decision. Maybe you would feel more comfortable only working part-time. Or maybe it’s better for you to wait until the kids are a little older before going back to work. Once you recognize what the excuses are that are holding you back, you can proceed and make better decisions about what you would like to do.
2. Am I pursuing a goal because I want to or because someone else wants me to?
This is a big one for kids just out of high school. Should they go to college? What should they pursue as a career? What will everyone think about their decisions? It’s a lot of pressure made worse when a kid can’t focus on their own voice.
When someone else is too loud in a kid’s head, how on earth is the kid supposed to figure out what to do? It’s a pressured-filled time in their life, but one of the most important. A child’s future success depends on the child knowing what interests them and what will make them happy. A well-meaning parent telling them they must go to college or insisting a certain career is what they must go into isn’t going to help a child if they do poorly in school or have no interest in the career.
3. Are you afraid to go after your goal?
Let’s face it, people get comfortable. They might be miserable in a job (for example) but they stay because they are comfortable with the routine. They know what to expect and they get along fine with the coworkers. The pay is okay and benefits are good so why in the world would they rock the boat and leave their job? Maybe they don’t feel challenged. Maybe they always dreamed of a different career. Maybe they are simply not motivated to go to work anymore.
Look, you only get one life. Life comes with risk, but for those who take the leap, rewards are plentiful. Sure it’s going to be hard to go in another direction. Sure it’s going to be downright scary. If you can see a better way to live your life, one in which you are happier and more satisfied, isn’t it worth it to take the leap?
So you have figured out what is holding you back but you still can’t seem to do anything about it. Now what?
1. Read. I have always said, when I get stuck I read. Read all you can about your goal. Read what others have done to succeed. Read inspirational stories. Read until you are knowledgable about what you are pursuing. Reading is a sure motivator. It will help to get you moving again in the right direction. Trust me. It honestly works.
2. Clean your house. I know this sounds odd but a messy home reflects a messy mind. When you feel unorganized and unfocused it shows. Your home begins to look messy as well. Don’t believe me? Look around. Are there piles of papers that need to be filed or tossed? Are there several things around the house that need fixing? Has the pile of dishes and laundry been at an all-time high? When is the last time you really cleaned the bathroom?
When my house begins to look a little trashed, I know it isn’t because I am so busy. When I am happy, no matter how busy I am, I become more productive. Sure I have dishes in the sink, but they are gone by the middle of the day. The point is that when you feel stuck, start tackling the chores.
Organize, clean, toss out what you don’t need. You will be thrilled at how much better you feel when your home is ship-shape again. It is actually a great way to get your motivation back. Once you aren’t overwhelmed by what surrounds you, your mind becomes free to work on goals and get moving again.
There is actually something very satisfying about putting the house back in order. By the end of the process, your motivation has returned and naturally spills over into other projects. You are on a high and want to continue feeling a sense of accomplishment. So you continue on by tackling other goals. It’s a wonderful feeling and it works!
3. Just move! I give this advice to the kids all the time. They get stuck and next thing I know they are moping around the house. They will complain about what they want to achieve, but are doing nothing to propell themselves in that direction. After brainstorming and coming up with no answers that satisfy them, I tell them to just move.
What does this mean exactly? Well, without movement, nothing will get done at all. You are at a stalemate. I don’t care if the kids move in a direction that has nothing to do with their goal. At this point it doesn’t matter. Depression has set in and they are feeling something much worse than frustration.
Moving can be seeing friends, doing an activity, taking a class, seeing a counselor, taking a walk, or anything else that gets them to do more that just stare at an electronic device. When you are this stuck, any movement is good movement and will start to make you feel better. The trick is you have to keep moving. You can’t make a half-hearted attempt and then lay around the house for the next few days.
What have you done to help yourself when you have become stuck? Is there any advice you can share that would help others when they are stuck in life? Leave a comment and let us know.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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