Feeling Stuck? Get Yourself Out of a Rut in Three Steps
There will always be times in life when we feel a bit stuck.
Maybe it feels like a career has plateaued. Maybe a relationship has lost connection. Maybe life just feels a bit… boring. It’s an uncomfortable, restless state to be in.
Thankfully, the way out is easier than you think.
You only need to do three things:
Identify where you’re feeling stuck
Identify why you’re feeling stuck
Create a plan to get unstuck
I know that seems ridiculously simple, and it actually is! The hardest part is often executing the plan, but we’ll cover that too.
First things first, let’s go over step one.
Step One: In what area of your life are you feeling stuck?
Try to get specific about what area of your life has you feeling this way.
Maybe your relationship, social life, and life outside of work is great, but you feel like your career is going nowhere. Or maybe your business is rapidly growing, but you feel like your relationship is drifting.
It could be that life is generally pretty good, but you’re feeling a little bored, like you want a bit of adventure, or something new. Or perhaps you’re feeling stuck in terms of your personal growth, in a ‘is this who I am going to be for the rest of my life’ kinda way.
If you can narrow things down into a specific area, that’s perfect. If it feels like an overall thing, try to dig a little deeper into the last two examples to see if one resonates with you. Having a well defined understanding of the heart of the issue is important.
Here are some questions that can help you narrow it down:
What's missing in your life right now?
What would you like more of in your life?
What would you like less of?
If you could change just one thing right now, what would it be?
What do you want to achieve long-term?
What does success look like to you?
Now that you’ve identified the specific area you’re feeling stuck in, the next step is to uncover the reason why.
Step Two: It will always come down to an unmet need, or a particular feeling that is missing.
For example, if your issue is around your work and career, it might be that you’re craving challenge and stimulation. Or maybe you want to feel like you’re working toward something significant and meaningful; like you’re contributing to something positive and important. Or maybe it’s the personal satisfaction of progress, and you want to be continuously improving in your role.
If your issue is around restlessness or general boredom, maybe you’re a person who feels stifled by routine. It might be that you want to feel free, or adventurous, or excited about a new experience. Maybe the feeling of the same day playing out over and over is making you feel almost claustrophobic.
Try to dig down into that unmet need or the feeling you’re craving with these questions:
What is it that you really want?
Why do you want it?
How do you want to feel?
Hopefully you’ve now got a clear idea of where you’re feeling stuck, and why.
Step Three: The next step is to create a plan to get unstuck.
To get unstuck, something needs to change. If nothing changes, nothing changes, right?!
There may be times where you need to make a big change, and other times where a small change will make a big difference.
A big change might involve a new job, relocating across the country or overseas, travel, starting a business, or launching a project.
A small change can be as simple as spontaneous road trips, a mid-week walk along a beach, taking a class, or volunteering.
The change you need can be big or small - it is totally up to you and specific to your situation.
For some, a total relocation is required to fulfill a deep need for adventure and a desire to leave their comfort zone. For others, promising yourself a road trip every month is enough to fulfill the same need.
To formulate a plan that meets your personal needs, consider these questions:
If you could, what would you love to do in regards to this issue?
What’s the scary option?
What’s the safe option?
What would be the advantages of making this change? What about the disadvantages?
What would be the advantages of not making this change? What about the disadvantages?
Let’s imagine for a moment you’ve made the change you really want to make and it’s six months down the road. How do you feel? How does life feel now, with that change made?
Now, let’s imagine it’s six months down the road but things stay as they are now - nothing has changed. How do you feel now?
With this in mind:
What action are you willing to take?
What do you have already (resources, skills, knowledge) that will help you make this change?
What resources, skills or knowledge do you need?
Who could help you?
If there was nothing holding you back, what is the first thing you would do to start moving toward your goal?
Considering the scale of the change required:
If your ideal change is big, how could you break it down into smaller steps?
If your ideal change is small, what is one thing you could do this week, or even today to start moving toward your end goal?
You now have all of the information you need to get yourself back on track. You have clearly outlined what is creating unrest, what would alleviate it, and how you can achieve that.
Step Four: The last thing left to do, is to put your plan into motion.
By now you’re probably feeling super motivated, so don’t delay. The end goal is fresh in your mind and now is the perfect time to take action. A great first step, and something you can do today (right now for example), is to create a visual aid to help you stay on track. Visual aids can consist of vision boards, lists, calendar reminders, or all three!
And they all work to keep you focused and to maintain your motivation levels.
Having a vision board will inspire you and remind you of what you’re working toward. You can use whatever imagery resonates with you and keep it in a place where you see it daily. Change and add to your board as you progress through the steps toward achieving your end goal.
Lists are another incredible visual aid, and a great way of breaking down what can seem like an overwhelming end goal - particularly if you’re working toward a big change. By listing each step and being able to tick it off as you achieve it, you give yourself small achievable goals, you set clear boundaries around what you need to do next, and you feel a huge sense of satisfaction every time you cross one task off the list.
If neither of those is your thing, setting simple calendar reminders might be. You can use these to create timeframes for achieving each step in your plan, or for creating countdowns.
For example, if you need more adventure and plan to take a trip somewhere new every weekend, you can add different destinations to every Sunday in your calendar. Having this printed out and hung on your fridge is a great visual reminder of the exciting plans you have coming up. And crossing off the days as each event draws nearer will have you feeling like a kid at Christmas.
So, there you have it... Simple but effective and actionable today.
Remember: any time you encounter this feeling of being stuck in a rut in future, it will always comes back to that unmet need or feeling you’re craving.
So when you’ve worked through this process once, it’s going to be easier the next time. You won’t have to go through the stress of feeling stuck again - you’ll identify the heart of the issue, work out the changes you need to make much faster, and quickly turn a problem into a well defined plan, and therefore, an achievable goal.
If you want to take this to the next level, check out the Be Your Own Life Coach Course and further develop your ability to understand what you want out of life, and most importantly, how to get it.