What to do if you’re feeling stuck in life
Did you know that the phrase “I am stuck” has over 695,000,000 hits on google? A helpful thing to remember is, you’re not alone in this sense of ‘stuckness’.
Read on to discover 9 effective ways to feel unstuck and thrive personally and professionally.
We may FEEL stuck in one or many aspects of our professional or personal life yet feeling stuck is just a belief.
The truth is anyone who feels stuck usually knows what they need to do to move forward but doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of doing what is needed to create the sense of forward action. It’s usually fear that keeps us stuck, a fear of becoming overwhelmed, upsetting someone, losing our sense of belonging, a lack of belief in ourselves, a fear of change or uncertainty or a fear of discipline.
Sometimes people courageously take bold action in the spur of the moment, yet find very quickly they feel unsure as to how to make the new behaviours or habits stick because it feels so unfamiliar.
What does ‘feeling stuck’ feel like?
Feeling stuck can present itself in interesting ways, including;
- Wanting something but then losing the motivation you need to make it happen. This can be a new health regime; looking for a job or career move or new relationship.
- Getting excited by an opportunity, then talking yourself out of taking the plunge of going for it because of a limiting belief or a lack of confidence.
- Endless over-thinking and worry that cripples any action and sucks the joy out of the present.
- Impatience, frustration and being quick to anger can all be emotional signals that you’re feeling stuck or constrained in life.
- Feeling exhausted all the time, unmotivated and distracting yourself with endless doom scrolling on a tablet or phone.
- Settling for the safe and known in either a relationship or job over stretching for fulfilment.
So, why are you feeling stuck?
Here are 7 common reasons you may be feeling stuck in your personal or professional life.
1. You’ve outgrown your current situation
Human beings change over time and sometimes that means our wants, needs and hopes evolve meaning we may grow to have less in common with a certain group of friends, or a once dream job may no longer be setting your heart alight. This can leave you feel conflicted and uncertain where to turn next.
2. You feel disconnected from your purpose or values
Life can lose its shine if you’re living outside of your purpose and values. We all need to live in alignment with them to feel our most authentic and productive selves.
3. Change feels too uncomfortable
Whilst there may be a compelling reason to make a change, there are usually several reasons why not to change. Maybe you’d like to be healthier, but to do so would mean changing a current routine that you find comfortable or maybe you’d like a new job but looking for one would impact your free time which you enjoy using for a hobby.
You may know what you need to do to become unstuck but feel uncomfortable moving forward because of fear of making a mistake or not getting the perfect result holding you back. This type of thinking can lead to a pattern of inaction and can block you from getting anywhere.
“The mind loves what is familiar even if it causes discomfort or holds us in a sense of stuck-ness. Taking small steps to break the cycle entering into the unfamiliar to create a healthier and more supportive sense of familiar one which better enables your true aims and desires.”
4. You are comfortable and are scared that making a change may mean losing something
Perhaps your current friendship group is the one you’ve always had even though you have different interests these days. Or maybe your current job offers security and stability so even though you are capable of more and are craving a challenge, it’s easy to stay in the comfort zone of the familiar even though it’s making you unhappy in the long term.
5. You fear judgement and comparison with others
Investing too much in what other people think can make decision-making paralysing and getting caught up in comparing yourself to others is a negative and downward spiral.
6. You’re grappling with negative thoughts
It’s hard to move forward when grappling with negative thoughts and feelings and these can cause us to lose hope. Negative thoughts can be extremely powerful and can pin us in a world of emotional pain including sadness, anxiety and unworthiness.
“I can honestly write down that without Joanne I wouldn’t be as comfortable and confident within myself as I am today, I would encourage anyone who has a negative narrative in their head, has lost direction of who they are and where they want to go, wants to stop imagining the world around them but actually take hold of it as their world, that they need to seek out this amazing woman called Joanne Cook.”
– Anon Male | Manager
7. You’re overwhelmed
If you’ve been stressed for a while, you’re keeping your nervous system on high alert as if under threat at all times, this can lead to extreme fatigue and burnout and is not ideal for making decisions about how you can move forward with your life.
Sometimes we can be looking to make a change but we just don’t know where to begin. When everything in your life is looking less than ideal, it can be hard finding the right place to start. Some reach out for life coaching to help provide support during challenging times. Coaching can help you move forward, establish clear boundaries and create a supportive environment for you to thrive.
Good life coaches know how to assist their clients to establish what they truly need, so they can step into the lives they were built to live.
Now we’ve discovered some of the reasons you may be feeling stuck, how do you begin to get ‘unstuck’ and stop feeling like you do now?
Here are 9 ways to help you feel unstuck
1. Identify what is making you feel stuck and what you truly want
Feeling stuck can feel vague and difficult to pin down. Allow yourself to mull over your feelings and clarify what it is that you want to be different. Sometimes it’s easier to write down the things you don’t want first.
“I don’t want to eat ultra-processed food every day.” Then ‘flip’ each statement to be re-framed in the positive of what you do want e.g. “I do want to eat more healthier nutritious food.”
2. Identify your values and purpose
Create a list for yourself of what is important to you and why? Don’t worry about feeling you have to get it right straight away. Just start with a list of what you feel is important and why you feel it’s important, you can edit this and refine it over time if necessary. I often recommend the free VIA Character Strengths and Values assessment online as a helpful aid.
3. Try using “… AND…” thinking
Sometimes our thinking can get stuck in binary mode, yes/no, either/or but introduce the “yes and…” thinking and open up to the possibilities.
This technique is useful for strengthening communication, staying in the moment, alleviating conflict, facilitating exploration, and creating supportive environments.
It’s equally important to remember that sometimes we need to say ‘no’ to one thing in order to say ‘yes’ to another, making room for what we really want by using ‘no and…’which is equally valid.
Our thoughts are powerful tools – they can send us in the direction we want to head or keep us pinned in one place.
4. Ask yourself questions to change your perspective
Feeling stuck can feel permanent but it can simply be a mindset. With conscious effort and self-awareness, you can change your inner voice and your perspective to become more flexible.
Try asking yourself how someone else would view the situation, or consider how you may view this period from a different angle determined to see the opportunity. A helpful approach is to headline two separate pages in an open notebook. One is titled ‘expansive’ and the other page is titled ‘reductive’.
The expansive thinking page only allows for limitless, free creative thinking, free from judgement where anything goes. The expansive thinking page allows space to generate ideas which will start to shape a sense of direction.
The reductive thinking page allows for logic and reasoning. You’ve got a broad idea about the direction, yet you need to hone an idea down or build it out. Reductive thinking allows you to reduce unknowns and gain confidence working through finer details. You could even invite a close friend to help you.
5. Choose to move
Ever noticed how much a walk or a run in the fresh air can change your perspective? If you are stuck working at a desk all day, you may be familiar with the stiff neck and shoulders demonstrating how tension and stuckness can sit in your body where energy gets trapped. A quick burst of exercise, maybe 10 jumping jacks whilst you wait for the kettle to boil for your morning coffee, or a brisk 10 min walk outside after lunch can make all the difference to your day.
Exercise and movement, like for example Joe Wicks’ Body Coach programme, can generate positive chemicals in your body, release energy and the benefits of being in nature are well documented.
6. Small steps can lead to giant leaps
Sometimes big changes can feel overwhelming, but by taking one small step every day you can break down the bigger goal into manageable and achievable steps.
A good example of this is when you want to eat more healthily, rather than removing foods and focussing on depriving yourself, try and add in more vegetables on the side maybe aiming to try a different kind every week and by gradually increasing the good into your diet, you’ll have less room and desire for the not so good.
Creating a short and easily ‘doable’ habit can turn into bigger long-term habit, for example finding just 2 minutes in your day for meditation or deep breathing can quickly reap benefits and potentially build up to a longer practice as you embed the habit into your life rather than starting out trying to squeeze in 60 minutes to an already busy day.
7. Boost your productivity
Procrastination is the thief of time and when you are feeling stuck, you can end up wallowing in indecision that ends up filling your day without progress.
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time-management method invented by Italian Francesco Cirillo. He wrote, “I discovered that you could learn how to improve your effectiveness and be better able to estimate how long a task will take to complete by recording how you utilise your time.”
The technique is popular, perhaps because it’s portable and easy to learn.
- Pick one project or task you want to focus on.
- Set a timer for 25-30 minutes, and get to work.
- When the buzzer sounds, take a two-to-three-minute break.
- After four sessions, take a longer break.
- Record each session with a tick or X in your notebook.
This technique is useful if you get distracted while working on a project or want to understand how long a task takes. It’s ideal for many types of work including writing, coding, design, and study. It also works if you have a lot of repetitive work to get through, such as wading through a busy inbox.
Executive coaching boosts productivity whilst providing emotional and practical support.
“I’ve felt safe to be myself with Joanne and open up to the challenges and fears I felt have stopped me from progressing. Sometimes we think we know ourselves better than anyone else, but it has been truly eye-opening having Joanne’s insight and it’s also been positively career changing.”
– Tammy W | Communications Manager
8. Remind yourself of your own power
Identify an aspect of your life where you do feel confident to take bold action and choose to do something in this area. You cannot be stuck and in motion at the same time. So doing anything with choice and confidence reminds you of your ability to get unstuck.
For example, if you have a desire to exercise more but don’t have money to join a gym, you can take control by finding a YouTube channel with some exercise videos you enjoy. This may not be a perfect solution, but it’s a great temporary fix while you get to a point where you can afford a gym membership or find an affordable exercise class. You may even discover once you start that running outside or yoga in your living room is more enjoyable for you than the gym!
What are the everyday activities that you take for granted that you do daily?
These seemingly small activities can be a helpful way to remind you of your own power and agency:
- Choose to go for a walk.
- Make a decision about dinner.
- Send one job application.
- Phone a friend.
- Delete or file 10 – emails from your inbox.
9. Rest, recharge, and focus on self-care
During a challenging time, keep in mind that you are responsible for your own well-being. Do what you need to look after yourself through a good diet, sleep, healthy movement, and connection.
Here’s a great activity for those feeling stuck that provides results.
BACE stems from cognitive behaviour therapy and is designed to get you doing activities that tick all the boxes, in turn helping you feel unstuck and improve your overall wellbeing.
Aim to complete one activity from each of the 4 BACE sections below.
Taking care of our bodies takes time and attention whether that be healthy eating, exercise, hygiene or sleep. These activities boost endorphins and serotonin release. Good for self-esteem, elevating mood and supporting improved memory.
1. Nourish yourself by making a healthy meal or snack for yourself or someone you love e.g. a light meal, a colourful salad, a comforting warm stew or a platter of fruit.
2. Hydrate yourself with a simple glass of water or elevate it by adding natural flavour such as fresh mint or a squeeze of lemon.
3. Choose a favourite or different scented body wash, or experiment with essential bath oils to see how the change in aroma shifts your mood.
4. Increase your physical movement or exercise in any form, slow to moderate stretching, walking or something more vigorous but always to a pace and duration that is comfortable.
5. Prioritise quality time for sleep, rest and recuperation aiming for 7-9.
We always feel better about ourselves when we have a sense of accomplishment or achievement for even the simplest of things. These activities can give a dopamine release making you feel good which increases satisfaction, motivation, supporting memory, mood and sleep.
1. Getting up and dressed for the type of day you want to have, not what you think you might have.
2. Reflection – What are you grateful for today? 3. Capture what you notice each day in whatever way is easiest for you.
4. Asking for help, letting it in and welcoming it when it comes to you.
5. Complete a list of chores or tasks and break them down across the week or day so they feel more manageable and tick them off once completed.
6. Write yourself a daily affirmation and place it in a prominent spot e.g ‘My self worth is not dependent or determined on the amount I do or don’t do each day’.
7. Try something you’ve never done before from baking or preparing a meal to planting vegetables or even peppering your day with BACE activities.
Connection with others:
We are social species and not built for a solitary life. There may be reasons for forced disconnection from others throughout our lives, yet signs of self withdrawal are flags of less than optimal wellness. Connecting in a meaningful way will give an oxytocin release, increasing feelings of love, trust, empathy and aids building relationships that deepen and forge social bonds.
1. Reach out to family, friends, neighbours, community, networks locally or around the globe and make time to connect.
2. Consider what might be going on for others and reach out to those who you’ve not spoken to for a while, give them a phone call if you cannot connect in person.
3. Offer to help someone out.
4. Volunteer for a local event or charity, visit a community farm or volunteer for an animal rescue.
5. Share a smile and acknowledge a passer-by.
Scattering your day with moments of joy. There is a lot going on in the world right now and life may at times feel joyless and serious. Finding joy in the little things daily as much as the bigger things is a good approach to feeling good and keeping a balanced perspective. Doing things purely for fun, with no pressure, judgement, or expectation simply because you can! It releases endorphins and serotonin elevating and boosting your mood.
1. Create a quiet cocooned space just for you.
2. Do something that makes you laugh or connect with a friend who makes you smile.
3. Belly laugh just because you can.
4. Jump in puddles, dance and move however your body feels it needs to.
5. Light a candle or scent your room with a fragrance you love.
6. Unearth your talent and creativity with Wild writing, free writing whatever flows from within you with no judgement.
Add to the above list by making up your own.
We can all feel a little lost from time to time, but sometimes it can feel so difficult that you need to do more than read a blog post or watch an empowering video. You could benefit from having a coach by your side to help you regain or find the confidence to push closer towards your dreams.
The first and most essential step that takes place in a coaching and therapy process is developing awareness. This can occur through discussing situations in our lives that have had an impact on you, identifying your defence mechanisms or cognitive distortions that are keeping you in that place, and discovering patterns or themes that have been present in your life. Addressing what’s really existing within us can be difficult, but with the help of a therapist guiding you, it can be much more comfortable.
Fed up with feeling stuck?
I work with individuals who feel stuck at a crossroads personally or professionally.
If you’re feeling stuck, trapped and unfulfilled in a relationship or your career, or perhaps your dreams lie around you like scattered puzzle pieces while you try and fit them together, let’s chat.
Explore more about the Coaching or Hypnotherapy I provide and if you’re unsure of your next step and ready to move forward, I offer free no-obligation 20 minute calls, where you can discover more about how to become unstuck and release your true potential.