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I see this a lot.
On social media. In real life. Conversations I overhear.
People feel stuck in place.
They don’t think they can make forward momentum in their lives.
It’s a tough position to be in.
It can feel all-consuming, a heavy feeling that wraps around you like a wet blanket.
There are many reasons why you might be feeling stuck or feeling trapped in life.
And there are also potential solutions.
There’s no overnight cure, but maybe you can feel better in three sleeps. Or four sleeps? Who knows?
But you’ll never know if you don’t continue the search for the right information.
So let’s get started. Here's what to do when you feel stuck in life.
Feeling Stuck in Life Reason 1: You Think There’s No Hope for Any Change and You're Feeling Lost (Why Do I Feel Stuck? Why Do I Feel Lost in Life?)
Feeling stuck starts with your thoughts.
If you think you’re stuck, you’re stuck.
It’s as simple — and as complicated — as that.
Thoughts create your situation.
They frame how you see the world.
They are, in fact, the foundation of your current paradigm.
It’s so easy to use your thoughts to create a convenient narrative about why you're worthless and can’t go anywhere.
I’ve done it all the time.
And my mental health has suffered as a result.
But the problem with that way of thinking is that it’s NOT true.
There’s always something that you can do.
But you won't be able to move forward unless you stop thinking thoughts like, "I feel stuck in life. I feel trapped in my life. I'm stuck."
Negative thinking is a slippery slope.
In a way, it’s adaptive.
It keeps you in place, in your perceived safety.
When you think yourself into a corner, you don’t have to go anywhere.
The ego wants that because your ego wants to keep you safe and secure.
Every time that I’ve told myself that there’s no hope is because, deep down, I’m scared, and my silly brain thinks that moving through fear will lead to my destruction.
It’s simply not true.
Solutions: Get Unstuck From Your Mindset and Stop Feeling Lost in Life
1. Realize that you are the one who created these thoughts, and you can be the one to create new thoughts
If you start thinking about possibilities, might you start to see possibilities?
2. Talk to someone who you see as NOT stuck
What do they think that you don’t? How did they create so many opportunities in their life?
3. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself
If you’re tired and dehydrated, it’s only natural to think negative thoughts and begin to feel so lost in life. The body and the mind are related, and your brain will pull from your physical state to think thoughts that it feels relate to your physical feelings.
Let’s move on to the next reason.
Feeling Stuck in Life Reason 2: You’re Stuck in a Dead-End Job / "I Don't Know What to Do With My Life"
Maybe you hate your job. So many people do. They feel trapped.
What can you do if that’s the case?
It’s hopeless, right?
You have more power than you realize. Your life is not falling apart.
You’re not stuck in a prison working for extremely low wages even though it might feel like it at times. There are probably small ways that you can create some opportunity for yourself.
But it’s totally understandable. You spend so much of your life at work that, if you hate what you do, it can have a profound negative impact on your life.
Your daily life is a combination of your daily tasks, which is often how people derive their sense of self.
For many people, work becomes life. It becomes a very strong sense of self for them.
If you love what you do, this is fine. But if you hate your work, often, you hate your life.
It’s time to get your life back.
Solutions: Get Unstuck at Work and Figure Out What You Want to Do With Your Life
1. Focus your thoughts on the tasks that you enjoy
There has to be something about your job that brings you joy.
Even if it’s the small amounts of time that you get by yourself when you’re cleaning up.
Could you use that time to create a new future for yourself?
Could that be your own private space to mentally create a new reality instead of repeating the "Im stuck" loop in your head?
Likewise, focus your full attention on these joyful tasks.
There are going to be times in your work that you hate.
Thankfully, you get to choose your attitude during the times that you enjoy.
2. Always look for other opportunities to figure out what to do with your life
This might be viewed as shady by some, but I think it’s realistic.
You are a valuable human being with real skills. You should always be scanning the horizon to see how you can best offer those skills.
You’re not required to be in one job until the end of time.
You can go somewhere else. It’s often an outdated mental model, likely handed down to you when you were young, that is telling you that you can’t go anywhere.
It may not be a perfect opportunity, but you can make incremental moves in your life. Before you know it, you’re doing work you love.
You're not always going to be saying, "I don't know what to do with my life."
And with a question like, "What do I do with my life?" it can be hard to even know where to begin.
And it's so difficult to answer because what works for one person probably won't work for you.
Plus, if you think about it, you're most likely looking for answers to different questions.
In this article, we're going to go over the questions behind the questions.
It's time to figure out what you need to do to analyze your life and discover your purpose.
I Don't Know What to Do For a Career (What Should I Do With My Life?)
A lot of people start here because they think that the whole point of life is to figure out the career they're supposed to be doing.
This is what society tells you--that once you're old enough to begin your professional life, you just need to know what you're supposed to be doing--and then go do it.
But how often do you make decisions like that?
Isn't it the case that you learn about yourself through a slow process of discovery?
Think back to when you were a child.
Did you just pop out of bed, know what you wanted to do that day, write down a plan in your child-sized notebook, and then go about doing it?
Of course not.
You explored. You stumbled upon what you liked bit by bit.
This is always how it works, but we get tricked by society and its famous "planning mindset."
The reality is this: a life plan doesn't just magically materialize in the blink of an eye.
Your career path is a series of steps, a process of discovery.
But how do you start the process?
You start with a question that's easier to answer.
Solutions: Ask Yourself Lots of Questions
1. How do I choose a job?
A job is smaller than a career. That's obvious.
But how do you go about picking one?
Well, what are your talents?
What do you enjoy doing?
Going back to the child analogy, what made your eyes light up when you were a kid?
Do you even remember?
If you're stuck and can't think of anything, talk to the people who know you best--your parents, your friends--or maybe your neighbors or even your current coworkers, if you're working in a job that you're trying to get away from.
The answer is always going to come from inside you, but you might need some help to drag it out.
If you're a person who likes working with their hands, look for jobs that allow you to do that.
If you're a person who is more cerebral and in your head, then maybe you want a job that values your thinking skills.
If you know yourself, then the kinds of jobs you might enjoy will become obvious.
But I'm guessing you didn't really come here to know what kind of job you should apply for.
I'm guessing something deeper is going on.
Actually, I'm not guessing--I know this.
Because all humans are meaning-making creatures.
We're not on this planet simply to get old enough to work, find a job to do for a few years, and then die.
We crave purpose.
And in purpose there is meaning.
2. What is the Purpose of Life?
You came here thinking, "I don't know what to do with my life" and now you have to deal with your ultimate purpose?
I know. It seems like a lot to handle.
And no one article will deliver your purpose to you in a neat package.
But an article can get you thinking about what it means to live a purposeful life.
There can be as many purposes in life as there are people on this planet, so it's time to uncover another question you might actually be asking.
3. What is my purpose?
Your purpose is not my purpose, and it's not your mother or father's purpose.
It's your own.
And it emerges from your day-to-day life.
It's in the everyday life that you find what you're made of and then use those lessons to set your direction.
Here are two more sets of questions to ask yourself...
1) Start by asking yourself some basic questions:
What are your goals? Where do you want to go in the future? Who do you want to become? What kind of job would make you happy? What kind of relationship would make you happy? If you were happy before, what can you learn from that time to be happy again?
2) Then, ask yourself these more specific questions:
Do you have any skills or talents that could help you get there? Are you willing to put in the time and effort to learn new things? Can you see yourself doing something else?
Questions upon questions.
It can make anyone's head spin.
But how will you find answers if you're not asking questions?
And the more questions you can ask yourself, the better.
Because that's how you'll stir up the greatest variety of answers.
And that's what you're here for, right? The answers to your brief time on this planet.
4. How do I find my purpose in life?
When it all comes down to it, you're not really looking for a measly job or a satisfying career.
You might think that's what you're after, but, once, again, you need to dig deeper.
What do you really desire?
If you stopped to think about this for 20 minutes, what is beneath all of your searching?
It's finding meaning. It's purpose.
And you're not ever going to know what it's in your heart if you don't ask it questions.
The Western Mindset has trained us to live our lives in our heads.
So let me ask you this:
How's that working out for you?
If you've tried to overanalyze every situation and plan your life goals in one, five, and ten-year increments and it hasn't worked out yet, maybe it's time to try something else.
Pick a new target.
Your gut feeling.
Whatever you want to call it, you can't go wrong if you aim your questions in that direction.
This is where you will find your meaningful life.
I bet you're getting tired of this now, but let's wrap this up with one final question.
5. "What do I want from life?"
Is your goal in life to work and then die?
Or is there something else you want?
Many daily lives are wasted focusing on other people's dreams.
If this is the one life you have, you need to treat your life with the respect it deserves.
Pay attention to it.
Better yet, pay attention to yourself.
Ask questions, and then ask more questions.
Usually the first question you ask is not the question you actually want answers to.
You don't need a life coach to walk you through some magic worksheets to find your life path.
You already have the answers.
You probably just haven't asked the right question yet.
Feeling Stuck in Life Reason 3: You Don’t Like Where You Live
This is a big one. If you don’t like the community you live in, it’s very easy to feel stuck in place.
Communities have their own character.
There are people who do similar jobs and say similar things.
There are the same buildings you see every day. There’s the weather. There’s the way clouds hang over your head.
There’s the way the clouds don’t hang over your head.
You get the point.
There are things about your current location that are a real drag.
So drag your butt to your favorite place in your community, and let’s see if we can change this.
Solutions: Get Unstuck From Your Location
1. Geographically change your location
Yes, it’s awfully hard to just pick up and move. I just made a big move from Virginia to Montana because I missed the mountains too much, but it took a real financial toll on me.
It was a risk, but it’s paying off because of how much happier I am. I have so much more energy now. But I don’t have special powers. I decided I needed to do this for myself, and I made a plan to do it.
What would it take for you to do the same if that’s what you wanted to do? Could you write out a preliminary plan? You might realize that, even though it would be quite difficult, you actually could move to another place.
2. Find the people in your current location who feel like you
Ok, ok. I get it. Not everyone can do just up and move to a new location. What if you really are stuck in your physical location? If that’s the case, try this. Find the people who feel like you.
The feeling of being stuck is so common. There really should be “I’m Stuck In Life” Support Groups all over the world.
Maybe you could create one? Seriously.
Go on to Meetup or any other meetup site online and see if you can figure out what’s going in your community.
If there’s nothing there, create one. I guarantee you that there would be others who would come out to talk with you about how stuck they feel. Just the act of connecting with other people can be enough to get some new thoughts brewing.
Feeling Stuck in Life Reason 4: Your Relationships Are Draining You
I’ve had some relationships in my life that were completely energy-draining.
They were totally one-sided.
I knew I needed to cut them off, but I just couldn’t.
They were safe.
They were familiar. Still, they made me feel stuck.
It’s quite possible that you have some relationships like this.
Maybe you feel trapped in a relationship right now.
What do you do in this situation? It’s not like you can just sneeze in your friends’ faces and say sayonara!
We need connection. Humans are wired for it.
But your first and most important relationship is the one that you have with yourself.
If you’re not treating yourself well, how can you expect others to do the same?
How can you even attract the right people to you if you are constantly consumed by negative feelings and don’t know what you deserve?
All committed relationships with others start with the commitment you make to yourself.
With that in mind, here are some ways to make positive changes and create happy, healthy relationships in your life.
Solutions: Get Unstuck in Your Relationships
1. Take a step back and assess your current relationships
If they are not bringing you joy, it’s time to do something about it. This is especially true if you have a long history of bad behavior from another person. The goal of long-term relationships is long-term happiness. Relationships should become better over time--not worse. If you've learned that someone is gaslighting you, then it's definitely time to leave.
2. Think about the qualities you like in other people
Do the majority of the people you spend time with possess those qualities? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
3. Take a risk
Try to make a new friend. It feels so awkward as an adult. I know this. But you have to do it.
Channel your inner child and ask someone if they want to grab coffee or just meet up anywhere to chat about your shared interests at some point.
What’s the worst that could happen? They say no? People LOVE talking about things they’re interested in. It’s basically all humans do.
Step out there and make the offer.
In Conclusion: The Path to Stop Feeling Stuck in Life
Your thoughts. Your job. Your community. Your relationships.
All of these paint a pretty complete picture of why you might be feeling asking, "Why am I stuck?"
The thing is, you have latent power available to change each of these realities and put a dent in that "stuck feeling."
Deep down, you already know what to do when you're feeling stuck in life.
If you start small, you can begin to chip away at what’s holding you back. Before you know it, you’re a human being emerging from the statue that you’ve been living in.
Becoming human again is what it’s all about.
Regain your humanity by realizing just how much possibility you still have.
And then seize the moment and do something about it.