Updated: Jun 15
There are multiple reasons why we might get stuck in life.
When we do, it often leads to feelings of unhappiness, frustration and even resentment - not things we want to let hang around longer than we can get away with!
Through my work with clients I’ve identified THREE top areas where and why this sticky-ness might show up - the good news is I’m also going to give you some fast, easy to implement tips for getting UN-stuck
So here goes…
The first problem
You’re holding on to behaviours, choices and patterns just because it’s what you’ve always done.
There can be comfort in our comfort zones…
but sometimes we can also outgrow them without realising, leading to feeling trapped and unsatisfied but not really being sure why.
Change and growth are inevitable for a human being.
Even if we fight it or have no interest in it consciously, our brains are constantly absorbing and interpreting information, learning and making micro adjustments as we go on.
Habits are also an inevitable part of life. They can happen without our noticing them (seriously, which sock do you put on first? It will be the same every time unless you consciously try to change it) and become deep rooted, and, at the same time, change other behaviours around them…
Just because what we’ve always done USED to be what we loved and wanted doesn’t mean it is now!
As an example, ever had a hobby, perhaps as a child, that you LOVED? You were obsessed with it (well I was), wanted to do it all the time, for a while, but then gradually your interest waned, you moved onto something else and maybe forgot about hobby one.
Or a food that you massively overindulged in and now can’t stand to look at? (true story I gave myself a pineapple allergy)
You wouldn’t carry on doing a hobby you found boring, or force yourself to eat a food you hated would you?
So while it may not be as extreme as these examples, consider WHY you’re “forcing” yourself to keep doing the same things over and over again…
This could be work, it could be your social activities, it could be anything - whatever it is, it’s probably keeping you feeling trapped.
Solution No. 1
Take 15 minutes, a piece of paper and pen or a blank word doc on your computer and try and shut out distractions.
It’s time for a brain dump!
Get out all the things that you do in your life and work - daily, weekly, monthly, occasionally.
Don’t overthink it - just get it all out on paper. We’re only interested in words at the moment not the feelings about them.
Then add in all the things you used to do but don’t do any more (that you can remember at least!)
Once you’re done (this is the fun part) grab some highlighters, coloured pencils or even just a different coloured biro if that’s all you’ve got.
Reading quickly through your word dump, notice which ones make you feel excited, which make you think “meh” and which you think “please god never again” about and mark them.
Then think about what balance of these things you have in your life right now…
I bet if you’re feeling stuck there’s fewer in the excitement category happening at the moment.
So, with this clarity, it’s time to start changing that! Start small, make a tweak and see how you go. Whenever you start feeling a bit stuck and stagnant again, come back to your “artwork” and reset - simples!
The second problem - You’re not playing to your strengths
We excel and feel our happiest when we do more of what we are good at rather than struggling with things we find really challenging and beating ourselves up about it. That’s not to say we shouldn’t practice things we want to get better at - but more on this in a bit!
For example, my brain does NOT process spreadsheets well.
A single spreadsheet, I can just about cope.
Multiple spreadsheets to cross reference sends me into a tailspin.
This kind of detail is not my friend. I’ve tried my hardest but it’s just not a strength (or even half way there for me!)
I feel confused, overwhelmed, sometimes panicked if I can't make things stack up and have ended up in tears more than once in frustration at the fact that I just can't do something seemingly simple.
This doesn't lead to ANY positive outcomes for anyone here...
Solution No. 2 - Time to identify and celebrate EVERYTHING you’re great at, so you can start doing more of it!
I know I know, “I’m not good at anything, I’m just average...”
Before you let these mind monkeys get a strong hold with their pesky little grip, let’s think about this in a different way.
Are you GREAT at organisation? Are you a pro meal planner? Do you have baking skills that those of us who can just about manage a brownie are in awe of?
Are you a really kind, thoughtful person? Do you remember events? Birthdays? Are you amazing at buying just the right gift?
Do you have a secret skill? (raising each eyebrow independently of the other anyone?) Even if you think it’s a bit nerdy/weird/uncool, whatever, get it down.
What do your friends or colleagues ask you for help with?
What about tests or exams? Did you excel at a subject at School or uni?
Anything goes here, the more the better, no matter how small. IT IS ALL IMPORTANT.
We spend so much time focusing on what we think we’re not good at that we sometimes forget that we are also GREAT at so many things.
Get listing, again, this is freestyle, paper, computer, whatever you like better.
As an example of things on my list (definitely not exhaustive!):
I’m a great listener, Good at asking questions, Creative
I help people feel better, I Connect easily with people
I'm good at Singing, Knitting, Cooking, Gift choosing
I'm highly intuitive and able to read the room
I think outside the box
Problem solving (actually probably in my top 3 with listening and questioning!)
Knowing that these are my strengths and finding ways to do more of this in my life and work means that I feel much less stuck, AND I know when to ask for help if spreadsheet-gate threatens to rear its ugly head!
So now you’ve seen examples - off you go, get your strengths out and celebrate them!
The third problem - You’re not leaving enough time for fun and creativity…
“But I’m not creative…?!”
Newsflash, you are!
ALL humans are inherently creative, it’s in our brains, built in - it’s how we learn and grow.
But we can also put a stop to this inadvertently when we focus on work work work and checking items off our to-do list, not leaving enough time for fun.
And fun itself, well - I hope that’s enough said on why we need it but read on for…
Solution No. 3 - Set aside time for something creative or fun daily - even 10 minutes!
Creativity doesn’t need to be something hands on or crafty - it’s about getting our brains doing something other than the humdrum.
Take reading for example, as we read, our brains CREATE images of the words we are reading.
Or planning a trip or holiday - we create a plan, get excited about it (hopefully) and conjure up how we expect to feel and things we will experience on this.
Even rearranging our wardrobe, looking at how we might wear things differently counts.
The most important thing about creativity is that it leaves us feeling more inspired than when we started.
So again, mentally, or on paper (I like a good old daydream for this because that in itself is creative) have a think about what you find inspiring or energising and want to do more of.
If you feel so inclined, you can create a “list of 20” (the specific number isn’t that important, just a good number of things) which is a directory of things that you can do in a few minutes, that make you feel happy, energised or like you’ve created something for yourself.
So there we have it.
Three of the top patterns I see in my clients who are feeling stuck and unfulfilled.
Once you understand the problem you can start to find a way through it - I hope the solutions I’ve suggested give you some ways of doing this!
If you’re interested in hearing more tips for when you’re feeling stuck make sure that you sign up to my (irregular) newsletter here and follow me on social media.