We’ve all had times when we feel ‘stuck in a rut.’ Numbed by the anaesthetic of daily habits and routine chores, we feel trapped in a never-ending ‘to do’ list. Whilst we might use terms such as ‘lacking in motivation,’ or ‘de-energised,’ it’s a state that is really best summarised by the label ‘blah.’
When we feel stuck, deep down we know that our expectations as to how life could or should be is not the same as the reality we are experiencing. At an extreme, it’s self-betrayal, because we have abandoned cherished dreams. At a minimum, there’s an aspect of our lives where we regret having compromised too much. However, if we can harness even a modicum of curiosity, this sense of disempowerment and ennui, is also an invitation for reflection. Why? Because feeling stuck is always an indicator that some change is trying to take place.Feeling stuck is always an indicator that some change is trying to take place. Click To Tweet
Life is a balancing act, we try to ensure what we value most is not at the mercy of what matters least. Our values, what’s important to us are the fundamental ingredients in our recipe for happiness and fulfilment. When we feel stuck, we have disconnected from our values. To bring your values into awareness hone in on the specific area where you are feeling trapped. Let’s take career as an example. You can then reflect on the questions – what’s important to me about my career?’ and ‘what do I want my working life to do for me?’ When you really ponder these questions you will identify criteria you are seeking to satisfy and values you want to exercise more purposefully.
When we feel stuck a common refrain is that we are seeking clarity. We want to be more certain about decisions or career choices. Rarely does clarity strike in a eureka moment of insight. We may never experience the clarity we think we are seeking, but it’s in the journey towards clarity that we learn and grow and we discover more about ourselves. The signposts on the road to clarity come from contrast and this means identifying what I want more of and what I want less of. These two questions also limber us up for the big question – what do I want?
When we feel stuck we have slipped into effect. We feel at the mercy of events. We are responding to life and circumstances as best we can, but we feel a loss of a sense of proactivity, of direction, of being master of our own destiny.
Asking the question ‘What do I want?’ focuses the mind on potential solutions. You will never have a sense of fulfilment, well-being or success, unless you define what these concepts mean to you. Contemplating the question ‘What do I want?’ is a good place to start.
Feeling stuck is an indicator that a change is trying to take place in your life. Therefore, a useful question to reflect upon is – what does this challenge or circumstance ask of me that I’m still withholding?
Of course, there’s also the scenario that you know exactly what you need to do, but you are afraid to do it. If this is the case, it’s not a question of being ‘stuck,’ the issue is, how can you courageously combat your feelings of anxiousness and uncertainty?
We all know the phrase if nothing changes everything stays the same. Whilst some people make radical changes in their lives, most of us, especially those of us with responsibilities, take small, regular steps which over time, lead to the change we seek. As I always say, dream big, start small, but start!
Sometimes this involves consciously spending more time pursuing an interest at the weekend or getting a new business off the ground by working on it at night. It usually means doing some research, arranging to meet people or volunteering to gain experience. It will always mean making the concerted effort to do something new.
You don’t necessarily need a plan but brainstorming ideas and making lists of possible actions and people to contact has the benefit of giving you perspective, a degree of control and a way to manage progress.
Armed with this enhanced self-awareness you can make some different choices. You can take a step in a new direction, guided by your intuition and emotions and fuelled by that inner knowing that something better is calling you. The familiar discomfort of your current situation can now become a growing pain, as you evolve towards the fullest expression of yourself.
You might also enjoy my latest Time Management article – Reclaiming my time