Feeling Stuck? How to Move Forward With Your Life

Have you ever felt as though your life is going no where? You’ve gotten older, things have happened, but ultimately you have a sense that you should be further along in life than you currently are. You’ve tried and tried again but it seems as though you are not getting any closer to life advancement.

I will sometimes get emails from readers asking for advice about something that they are struggling with. Lately, this has been a subject that has been popping up in my inbox. Having dealt with this feeling before, I know how hard it can be to truly get yourself unstuck.

I was torn on what to focus on this article. I struggled with whether or not to write about how to deal with the emotion of feeling stuck or how to actually move life in forward direction.

As it turns out, there are plenty of articles on the internet that with the feeling of being stuck but very few on how to actually get unstuck. Some of them are good but when I read them, I tried to ask myself whether a person would be where he wants to be a year from now if he applies the suggested tips.

I felt that many of the articles would make a person feel better but not necessarily move you forward in life. So, this post will be about how to get you closer to the life that you want to live.

When this feeling of being stuck consumes our lives the one question we tend to ask is, “how did I get into this situation?” Here are some reasons why you may be feeling stuck:

 

Procrastination – This kills progress like soap kills germs. Constant procrastination is a serious problem that will undoubtedly lead to nothing being done and no progress being made. Why we procrastinate is a whole other issue but the fact that we do always ends with the same result-stagnation.

 

Repeating the Same Mistakes – It’s one thing to make a mistake, but to make that same mistake daily is a sure fire way to sabotage your progress in life.

 

Misuse of Time – The one thing we all have in common is the 24 hours each day that we are given to live. What we do with that 24 hours is our business and our responsibility. If you are feeling stuck in your life or feel like your life needs to progress, take a good look at how you have spent the last 24 hours of your life.

 

Focusing on the Minor – Most everything in our lives falls into one of two categories: major or minor.

Relationships, life purpose, health, finances etc. usually fall under the “major category” for most people. Watching TV, sleeping in, and playing Angry Birds, can most likely be categorized as minor.

Now that you may have a better idea of why you feel stuck, it’s time to move forward.

 

 

 

Correcting the Past VS Creating a Future

To my knowledge, time travel is not possible. I’m sure we can all agree on that. If that’s true, why do we spend so much time focusing on the past?

One mistake we often make is focusing too much on what has happened instead of concentrating on what we are going to do about it. Focusing on your reaction instead of dwelling on past failures and mistakes does two things. First, it prevents us from feeling guilty and defeated about the past. And second, it positions us to create a better future.

A better future is the goal for most everyone. We all want to have a better life, live in a better country, and build a better world. It is important that we learn from the past but we can never move forward if we live there.

Today, stop trying to correct the past and start creating a future. Accept the things that have happened as lessons to be learned and not problems to be solved. Then, begin to build a better future. Focus on what life should be and not how it was in the past. The more you do this, the more you will begin to see how you can move your life in that direction.

 

 

Moving Your Life Forward

 

Avoid the Familiar: Unstick Your Sticky Brain

If the saying “if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting” is true, it is time for you to do some things that are unfamiliar to you. One of the reasons why our lives haven’t progressed is because we continue to do the things that keep us in the same stage of life. So one of the first keys to move your life forward is to avoid the familiar things that are keeping you where you are.

The brain is an incredibly advanced machine. It takes everything that it learns and experiences and it attempts to become more efficient. The brain attempts to make a habit of the things we do. If you wake up every morning and brush your teeth, make coffee, and then flip on the TV, your brain will quickly try to make that routine a habit so that you don’t have to think about what you are doing. This means less work for the brain.

This incredible function is sometimes referred to as neuroplasticity, which generally describes the brain’s ability to adapt structurally to new situations. The problem is that the brain, bless its heart, will continue to create habits of things whether those things are good for you or not. If you eat burgers and fries every night your brain will try to create eating habits so that you don’t have to decide whether or not to order a Whopper with cheese.

On a larger scale, this can be a reason why you are currently stuck in a life situation. If you have been used to misusing your time, needlessly spending your money, and procrastinating, your brain will continue to do those things. And, it will do try to do them more efficiently.

We literally need to retrain our brains because they will usually drift towards what is familiar, not what is best for us. The more you do something, the more your brain wants to do it.

If you want to live a more social life but you are familiar with leaving work, eating dinner alone, watching TV, and then going to bed, it is time to do something that you are not familiar with. Instead, ask a co-worker to do something after work, or find an activity on meetup.com to attend so that you can meet new people.

It almost doesn’t matter what the first step towards the unfamiliar is. Whats important is that it is different than what you have been doing. It may take a few tries but eventually, you will get closer to your destination. You will see your comfort zone, habits, and routines shift. And that shift will bring the life change that you are d looking for.

 

 

Develop Small Disciplines

Adding small disciplines to one part of your life can help improve many other areas of your life as well. Scientists are finding that willpower and self-discipline may be transferable. In 2006 two Australian researchers, Megan Odom and Kim Chang, conducted a study. They enlisted 24 participants and asked them to stick to an exercise routine for a few months and to report their results.

Along with having more energy and a general sense of well-being, the participants also reported that they ate less junk food, drank less alcohol, were more productive at work, and smoked fewer cigarettes-none of which they were asked to do.

To ensure that it was not the exercise, but the willpower that made the difference, a second study was conducted. This time, 29 participants were asked to stick to a money management plan and to report their results. They were asked to deny themselves luxuries such as eating at restaurants and going to the movies. Along with saving money, this group of participants also reported that they were more productive at work and school (student’s grades improved), they drank less alcohol and caffeine, and smoked fewer cigarettes.

It seems that practicing discipline and willpower to one part of your life will make it easier to apply that discipline to other parts of your life. One thing that happens to your brain when you begin to build discipline is that your thinking changes.

Today, force yourself to do something where you can begin to build your willpower; no matter how small. By forcing yourself to do that thing, you are building your self-discipline muscles and those muscles will be strong enough to help you do the things that you will need to do in order to move your life forward.

 

 

Take Critical Actions

One of the major reasons we do not make significant progress in our lives is because we simply do not do the things we should be doing to move forward. If you are in a career that you hate and desperately want to get out there are a few things you can do about it. You can apply for another job when its convenient, complain about your boss, or wait around for someone to call you out of the blue and offer another position.

Or you can apply for every position that you want, persist and follow up after every application, and reach out to anyone you may know who has hiring power. These are two separate sets of actions that will lead to separate results. It’s safe to say the second set of actions is significantly tougher to do than the first set. This is why they are critical.

Most times when we want to move our lives forward there are some tasks that we really don’t want to do but will most likely produce the progress we desire.

Identify those actions that you know will make a difference and write them down from toughest to easiest. Then commit to completing the list one by one. I suggest that you start with the hardest because it will make the easier tasks much more likely to get done.

 

Set the Standard for Yourself Everyday

I’ll be honest with you-this is going to be one of the hardest things to do out of everything I suggested.

As most of you know, I am usually up pretty early and like to be productive first thing in the morning. One of the reasons this is so important to me is because I have learned that when I am productive, active and focused in the morning, those habits follow me throughout the day.

On the other hand, if I allow myself to sleep in, flip on the TV and drag myself through my morning routine until it’s time for work, my day is going to be drudgery

The reason this happens is because I set my standard for the day first thing in the morning. If I know I should be getting up early but allow myself to sleep in way longer than I should, then I have let myself off of the hook. If that’s what is acceptable, I will continue to let myself off of the hook throughout the day.

This means that at work clients will not get called, emails will not be returned, and sales will be missed. It all works to together.

Take a look at the standards you have set for yourself. Have you set expectations for yourself that you are not following through with? Have you made it easy for yourself to get away with doing less than your best or what you are capable of? If so, now is the time to turn things around.

Begin to hold yourself accountable (or have a friend hold you accountable) so that you do not rob yourself of your best. You have multiple opportunities every day to meet or exceed your own standards. Use each one of those opportunities to prove to yourself that you want to move your life forward.

Moving On Quotes

I usually end my posts with a motivational message but this time I’ve decided to leave you with some of my favorite “moving on” quotes

“To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.”-Dave Pelzer

We all make mistakes but one has to move on.”-Jeffrey Archer

Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.”-Henry Rollins

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  • Quintin

    Great post ralph!!! sharing!

  • http://happierhuman.com/ Amit Amin

    I agree with Quintin – this is a great post, you’ve focused on the hard stuff, not necessarily the feel good stuff!

    “If you have been used to misusing your time, needlessly spending your money, and procrastinating, your brain will continue to do those things. And, it will do try to do them more efficiently.”

    Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve found this in my life – suddenly trying to discard all of my bad time habits has always been met with failure. I hadn’t considered the reason you mentioned – I’ve probably gotten really, really good at initiating and focusing on those habits.

    “It’s safe to say the second set of actions is significantly tougher to do than the first set. This is why they are critical.”

    I don’t think something being more difficult makes it more critical or more important – using your ‘hate my career’ example, getting a masters degree in the new career you’d like to try out, while still going to work, is definitely more difficult than pretty much anything else you could do. But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t make it critical. There may be much better uses of time.

    I think the reason the most difficult task is sometimes (but not always!) the most critical, is because many people avoid those tasks, giving others the opportunity to stand out.