How to Keep Going When You’re Stuck
I am sure we have all experienced feeling stuck at some point in our lives. Whether it is only a small obstacle like not being able to complete a task or come up with new ideas, or a more complex one, such as feeling your life is going nowhere.
None of us like being stagnant. We all want to progress and climb higher in life, but sometimes this feels impossible. Once we are in the chasm of dormancy, it is difficult to climb out. The edges are slippery and our small efforts to reach the top send us plundering right back down to the bottom. So what can we do to obtain the rope that will pull us out?
This is something that many of us do, that holds us back from achieving. You put off doing the hoovering or completing tasks for work and they never get done. So how do you stop doing this? The blunt answer is you need to force yourself. A way that I help to overcome procrastination is to write myself small lists each day of what I want to achieve by the evening. I give myself rewards for achieving my assigned jobs and I do not let myself indulge in small pleasures such as watching a film in the evening or having a slice of cake if I have not completed my list.
A study with 147 students, showed that many would end up procrastinating tasks by choosing a more fun alternative, such as going out with friends or getting a coffee. By using exciting activities as an incentive to complete that dreaded task, you are telling yourself that seeing your friends cannot be a viable substitute, yet it can be a reward when you have finished what needed doing. By doing this, you are reprogramming your way of thinking, and you will associate these arduous tasks with pleasurable rewards.
This was explored by prominent psychologist Ivan Pavlov, who explored conditioning and positive reinforcement. He found that by forming an association with certain tasks and rewards, you can create a conditioned response which makes it easier to complete tasks. You will learn new positive behaviours because of your positive reinforcement and hopefully, your obstacle will be diminished.
I find that to overcome procrastination I have to treat myself like a child. I get gold stars in the form of a glass of wine, or the ability to buy a new pair of shoes if I have achieved tasks that I have put off or didn't want to do. Even having the list itself helps as you can visualise your daily chores and when that list is all ticked off at the end of the day, it will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. Ending your habit of procrastination will allow your life to flow easily and you won't find yourself hitting obstacles as frequently.
What to do when your whole life is no longer in motion
Sometimes you feel like your life has hit a wall. You’re stuck in a job you hate, maybe your relationship has lost its spark. You feel like you have failed. Many of us have been there at some point and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel- you feel like your life is destined to stay the same. Life has plateaued for you and you desperately want it to improve but you feel like it isn't within your capability to be better.
No matter how far into the chasm you are, there is always a way out. You always have the ability to elevate your life if you have the right tools and strength.
1. Find the source
The first step to helping yourself is to recognise that you are stuck in a rut. It is also helpful if you can find the source of your paralysis. Is it your career? Is it your living situation? Is it your friendships? Finding the factor that is holding you back from moving forward and being happy is majorly important to improving your life.
2. Decide whether to eliminate the cause
It might not always be possible to completely eliminate the source of your problems but you can decide to change how it is affecting you. If it’s your career, consider if you can perhaps find something better. Is your field of work one that you truly want to be in? If not, analyse your talents and interests. You could take a course of something that excites you, like photography or journalism. No matter your stage in life, it is never too late to start something new.
If you aren’t in a position to change your career, think about how you are being treated. Maybe you have worked in the same position for years without any progression. Perhaps your dedication and hard work isn't being recognised. Speak to your employer and ask if there is anything you could be doing to progress to a higher position. Maybe that will give them the opportunity to review your efforts and see that you deserve to be rewarded.
If it is your relationship that is causing the obstacle, think about if you are truly happy with that person. Have you been putting up with their toxic habits or lack of attention out of convenience? Have you simply fallen out of love but you feel too settled to act on it? Choosing to end a relationship that you aren’t happy in is extremely difficult, especially if you have been with them for years. If you feel it is going nowhere but cannot leave due to loyalty, ponder whether a rather difficult and hurtful conversation could perhaps be vital for your future happiness and growth.
If you don't feel you need to leave them, but you aren't happy with your current situation then talk to them. Discuss the parts of your relationship that you don't like and allow them to do the same. It is possible that you have both been feeling the same way but didn't know how to approach the conversation. Try and work on your relationship together for the benefit of both of your lives and you could see your situation improving. Stand up for yourself and ask to be treated the way you wish to- being assertive will more than likely benefit you both.
3. Start something completely new
You might not be able to change current things in your life such as your house, your job or your finances very easily, but you can alter the quality of your life. Take up a new hobby, join a gym class, put yourself in a position to make new friends. These small changes in your life could hugely boost your happiness and you may find yourself in a stronger position to tackle those things that are holding you back. It is hard to make big changes when you are feeling low, but if you find yourself with new friends and a greater purpose, it might give you the strength you need to quit that awful job or leave your toxic best-friend.
4. Take risks
You are most likely in this situation because you have stayed where you are out of comfort. You don't think you can do better than your current job or partner and so you stick with them out of ease. Shatter the illusion that you can’t do better. You can, everyone can if they only try.
Take a week off and travel somewhere new, visit your long-distance friend that you haven't seen in years. Be spontaneous.
The reason you are stuck in a rut is that you are not putting yourself in a position to find new opportunities. Listen to podcasts, read people’s success stories. Realise that if others can achieve the seemingly impossible then you can too.
If you make a plan, such as moving to another country, you can save money to achieve it with your goal in mind. You are never going to ascend in life if you are not taking risks to get there. You will not be brilliant by settling. Dye your hair that crazy colour you always dreamed of, start a small business selling the cakes you like to make on the weekend. I cannot stress enough that you will not have a better life if you do not put yourself in the position to achieve it.
If your life has remained the same living in your small birth town at your 9–5 job, then to improve you will probably have to travel outside your bubble of comfort and routine. Moving to a big city may seem terrifying and unachievable, however, if you make the leap you will have put yourself in the position to be able to change. You have opened up your life to a world of freedom and you have given yourself a precious gift: chance. You now have the chance to improve your situation, whereas remaining in your hole of convenience will reduce your chance greatly.
Feeling as if you are going nowhere is a horrible feeling. It is so easy to become enveloped by this feeling and be blinded to the small shaft of light. The harsh fact is, that only you can change your situation and you need to stop waiting for your life to magically improve because it won't. Take these steps at the pace that is achievable and you will find yourself back on track to happiness and success.