What to do when you are stuck
At some point in your life, you have felt stuck. It may have been a fleeting moment of not knowing what to do next, or it could have been a longer phase in your life of feeling trapped and wondering if you will ever feel momentum and motivation again. The stagnation can be overwhelming and often comes with unpleasant emotions - dread, frustration, hopelessness.
If this is your situation, don’t worry - there is a way out.
You always have two choices when you’re stuck - do something, or do nothing.
You may be telling yourself, well of course, that is obvious. It may be obvious, but what many fail to recognise is that you do have a choice, and the solution is actually simpler than we realise.
Let’s start with the first choice.
It is important to take some action. Often times we are stuck because our minds allow us to think we have no other options, or we don’t know what options we have available to us. It can feel like being in a fog with no clear path out. If this is you, take some small action. The key is the word small - something that will get you started and not make you overwhelmed. It is often the feeling that we need to make a major change that keeps us in limbo. Major changes come with time, and they happen by starting somewhere and making minor adjustments in your life. This is good news, as it is easier to make small changes in life.
Let’s say you have been in the same job for ten years. You may have enjoyed it at one point, but you now feel unmotivated and often dread going to work. You had planned on updating your CV years ago yet for some reason never got around to it. As the years flew by so did your confidence and motivation to change jobs. From time to time you have gotten around to skimming job descriptions at other companies, but keep finding yourself feeling doubtful that you would be qualified for any of the positions. So here you are, ten years later, unfulfilled and afraid to make a job change. In other words, you feel stuck in your job.
If this sounds like you, there is a way forward. Instead of making the goal about getting a new job, you could set little goals such as learning a new skill by taking an online class or scheduling a coffee with someone in a profession that you are curious to learn more about. If this still causes inaction, you could even start smaller by making a list of possible classes to take, and coming up with a few names of people to meet for coffee. Ultimately, the simpler you make each step, the more likely you are to take action. Often, that is enough to move forward, as each action can create momentum for further action. As you build your confidence and motivation, things start to fall into place, and you feel greater freedom. Before you know it, you are on your way to your new job.
And now for the second choice...
There are times when inaction can be your friend. If you have tried to change your situation and keep hitting a wall, it may be time to do nothing for a while. This does not mean giving up on change. It simply means taking your focus away from your situation and being still. This stillness can sometimes be all you need to spark ideas and clarity on your next step. This stillness can be done through meditation, or just by being present in the moment. Think of it as slowing down to give you the energy to then move forward again.
Another reason you may want to take a step back and do nothing is that there is nothing more for you to do at this point. Sometimes, we try to control the outcomes in our lives by constantly pushing and prodding with no luck. When this happens, we need to realise that the answer will come with patience. I’ve found looking back at times in my own life that the best outcome ended up eventually coming along, it just took patience (which I didn’t always have).
Let’s assume, using the job example again, that you have updated your CV, refreshed your skills, networked, reviewed job listings, and went on several interviews. It has taken many months and still no job offers. You feel frustrated and stuck in your current situation, and are eager to get out of it. This is the time that you need to be still. It is worth reminding yourself that when you have exhausted all your options, just sit back and wait. A job opportunity will come in time.
So, the next time you feel stuck and worry that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, think again. Remember the comforting words of wisdom and know that "this too shall pass".