We all know what it’s like.
We’ve all felt stuck, uninspired and unmotivated at times. When nothing feels exciting and engaging. When all you want is to crawl back to bed and simply not deal with life.
I have those days from time to time. Days when I question what the point of everything is. When I doubt myself, what I’m able to contribute with and when I question if things will work out.
To feel stuck is frustrating, discouraging and energy-draining. But, what I’ve discovered is that negative emotions always is a messenger in one way or another. It can be a sign that we’re heading in the wrong direction, that we’re pushing ourselves too hard, or that we’re not acknowledging certain needs we have.
Problems are part of life. They help us to grow, expand and to find solutions.
As Tony Robbins said, “The problem with problems is that we think we shouldn’t have any”.
We can’t always avoid ending up in dark places – nor should we as they are a catalyst for us to develop and evolve – but what we should avoid is staying there for too long. It’s our choice if we make it a quick rendezvous or if we decide to set up camp there.
Here is the most effective way I’ve found so far on how to move forward when you’re feeling stuck.
Don’t push or force your way out
When we desperately want things to change, we tend to force them to. Instead of waiting for that powerful pull, we tend to push. Like a little kid banging the pieces of his puzzle into place when he can’t figure out the structure.
I was about to make a huge mistake when I felt stuck in my last job. I was so eager for change that I thought that if I only changed the city and company, everything would change. So I applied for a similar position in London instead of Paris.
Just when I was about to go to the last interview, my boss at the time gave me some extremely valuable advice. He said: “Don’t change because you want to leave where you are today, change because you want to go somewhere else.”
Basically, don’t walk away from something – go towards something.
There will always be new problems arising and if our action isn’t coming from a place of inspiration and excitement, we’ll soon end up wanting to change again. (Hello, the grass is greener on the other side!)
It then becomes a forced action, instead of inspired action.
And hey! Let’s not be hard on ourselves. When we feel stuck, we’re often urged into action – any kind of action. It’s like our monkey mind is telling us: “Do something about this situation NOW, NOW, NOW!”
Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t take that job because I know that it would only have been a temporary solution. It probably would have felt good for a while, but what I was looking for was a different path, not a quick fix.
Step 1: Accept your shitty day, week or period in life
Nothing good comes from forcing things into place. So instead of acting on that voice telling you to push your way out of the situation – just observe it. Accept that you’re having a shitty day, week, month, or year. Come to peace with the fact that you’re feeling stuck and that things aren’t ideal right now. Accept that you’re feeling frustrated, confused and disconnected.
Simply: Stop fighting what is and come to peace with how things are today. Allow yourself to feel all the negative emotions. Don’t resist or push them away. Instead, surrender completely to your feelings and thoughts.
A tool to help you surrender and come to a place of acceptance is to agree to your negative thoughts. To say to yourself, “Yes, I’m stuck” and “Yes, I don’t feel like doing anything”. Agreeing to them doesn’t mean that they are right. It simply means that you’re putting an end to your internal war.
By accepting the negative thoughts completely, they lose their power over you. When there’s nothing more for them to do, that’s when they can disappear.
So the first step is to not push your way out of feeling stuck but to simply say “YES” to the fact that you’re feeling stuck. To accept your shitty day, week or period in life.
Step 2: Let inspiration guide you
Once you’ve accepted where you are fully, you’re in a place to choose a new direction. To do that we invite inspiration in. No matter if you’re an entrepreneur, scientist or yoga teacher – inspiration is key to create a fulfilling and purposeful career.
Inspiration draws you in. It stirs your mind and makes action feel effortless. It awakens new possibilities and is a springboard for creativity. Jay Z said, “The most important thing is inspiration, as an artist if you’re not inspired you start thinking. When you start thinking you start forcing.”
Unfortunately, we can’t force inspiration. All we can do is to create the best circumstances for it to enter our lives. So, find an interesting book, a podcast, or a compelling YouTube video. Nuggets of inspiration are always underneath your fingertips.
Take a step back and let yourself be swept into a different world. Don’t do it because you need it – do it because you enjoy it. (Yes, you are allowed to do things just for the pleasure of it. Aaah!)
Step 3: Work with inspired action
To feel stuck and unable to move forward sucks. Both you and I know that. It can make life feel like a black and white movie when we know that there’s one in technicolor.
But, know that this is temporary. Once you’ve accepted where you are, go look for inspiration. Find glimpses and pieces of what makes you curious and investigate that. Allow yourself to open up to new opportunities.
Then: act on that inspiration.
Take small steps forward. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that small steps don’t matter, because they do. Every great adventure started with one single thought. Every big journey started with one single step.
So, start small and take baby steps forward. This is the most powerful formula I’ve found to stop feeling stuck.
Maria Stenvinkel is on a mission to help people get a career they truly love. Download her free worksheet Get a Clue to Your Calling With These 10 Powerful Questions.
Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash