According to dictionary.com, “unstuck” is defined as “freed…from being stuck.”
Why do I define that, specifically?
Because you know it, and I know it — you ARE stuck. And you need a way to GET FREE.
Every single one of us, at some point, wakes up one morning and realizes that they’re just spinning their wheels, going through the same motions every day. We realize that we just aren’t going anywhere in life and we need to figure out how to get out of a rut, ASAP.
We realize that our lives are completely stuck in “park.”
So what do you do about it? What’s the next (or even the first) action to take when you’re wondering how to get unstuck in life?
Read on, my friend, and let your next chapter in life unfold.
1. Reflect on what is good.
How: I know this sounds all sorts of hokey, but you really do need to take a minute to take stock of what isn’t stuck, what doesn’t suck, and what actually does make you feel pretty good. Making a list, taking pictures and making a photo album in your phone to scroll through, or just calling someone you love and trust and having a solid reflection session with them are all great ways to get out of a rut.
Why: When you let the negative things keep replaying through your head over and over, you’re as bad as a broken record stuck in its loop. When you can replace the negative thoughts with the positive things, you give your brain a chance to both get a break from the negative things hounding it, and give it some new loop fodder.
The Result: Good is cohesive to itself. When you start to focus on the good in life, your mind gets better at recognizing it, and your eyes get sharper for seeing more of it.
2. Call in the troops.
How: Are you stuck because you’re swamped with work, housework, social obligations, etc? Try doing something like asking a buddy (or a few) to come to help you out with some yard work one weekend, and you can trade another weekend.
Why: You get your work done in half the time, you get a chance to have someone to talk to while you work and help take your mind off things, and you’ve got a good excuse to crack open a beer a lot earlier in the day. I mean, who doesn’t work with their buds without a Bud?
The Result: Clearly, if recurring, smothering amounts of yard work were keeping you feeling like you were spinning your wheels, you’ll be massively “unstuck” the minute the work is done. You likely also had a chance to at least shoot the breeze a little bit while you worked, which gives you a great opportunity to take your mind off of what’s been weighing you down and keeping you stuck. Mental health breaks are worth more than your weight in gold, sometimes.
3. Commit to a new exercise routine.
How: Whether you keep it simple by just changing what days you work out or you choose to start an entirely new program (like switching your Beachbody workout from P90X to Insanity), make it a point to make a change to your exercise routine if you want to find the shortcut to how to transform your life. If you aren’t big on working out now, then make it a big point to have this be when you start.
Why: Let’s say you simply go from running twice a week to running four times per week. You know you can run, obviously, so why not push yourself to accomplish what really amounts to just a little bit more? You’ll benefit from improved health and fitness – in half the time, duh – and you’ll also benefit from an easy win when you successfully stick to the new routine for a couple of weeks. Studies say that doing 20 minutes of cardio gives you about a 12-hour mood boost. If you work out every morning, you’re basically on a 100% natural “happy pill” for the rest of the day. Why NOT do that more often than you used to?!
The Result: Your mood is boosted, your physique improves (yes, it can, even in just 2 weeks!), and the double-dose of endorphins released during your double-dose weekly workouts will make you twice as happy-feeling as you were before the switch. Congratulations, you’ve literally used biology to force yourself out of your slump! Take that, middle school bio class! #crushedit
4. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
How: You never know, one of those painting-with-booze things that are all the rage these days might be your undiscovered hidden talent, just waiting to be discovered. In all seriousness though, pull out that dusty, creased list of things you’ve always wanted to try, pick one, and go do it.
Why: If you pick something super out of your comfort zone, like hang gliding, you’re obviously going to have a huge adrenaline rush from it. Even smaller “push” activities, like doing a 5K obstacle course or learning to ride a motorcycle, can give you some serious pep in your step.
The Result: Even if you don’t walk away a winner or a new pro, you’ll at the very least walk away 100% proud of yourself for just going out and doing something. You’ll be happier for having crossed something off of the bucket list, no matter how small. If nothing else, you conquered the high wall of hesitation that we all have when considering taking on something new and that in itself is worth being proud of.
5. Channel your inner passion.
How: Chances are pretty good that while you might be working a job you enjoy, you’re not working your dream job. Chances are also pretty good that you can’t just up and quit tomorrow. Find a new hobby, a volunteer activity, or maybe even some night or online college courses so that you can put some of your passion in your real, everyday life instead of just keeping it locked up in your mind. For me, I’d be playing more pick-up basketball games at the rec center, if not finding a slightly more “pro” version of it locally.
Why: It’s a sad fact that only about 30% of us actually get to work our dream jobs. If that doesn’t make you shed a tear of defeat, nothing will. Finding a way to channel your passion gives you an opportunity to hone in on it, sharpen whatever skills or experiences go with it, and turn the tides in your favor that you might someday be able to make it become your day job. How cool would that be?
The Result: On a regular basis, you’ll have a higher overall sense of satisfaction with life. I mean, I’m gonna be real with you. Worst case scenario, I won’t become a famous NBA player but I’ll enjoy some great games of hoops, make a few new friends, and get in some great workouts. Best case scenario, I get really good at basketball, go semi-pro, eventually work my way up buying my own NBA team and living out my dream life from the spectator’s box. The goal with channeling your inner passion is so that it lights a massive bonfire under your butt that drives you to get out there and make your dream job and dream life happen, non-negotiable. We don’t all get a life do over, so make one for yourself.
How: Take a road trip, buy a last-minute cheap plane ticket (some companies offer $100 flights pretty close to the deadline!), or hop a train that goes literally anywhere. You don’t even need to necessarily plan anything specific, other than a destination (and maybe plan for how many changes of underwear you’ll need).
Why: There’s something inexplicably refreshing about being in a new place…none of your everyday baggage is there to remind you of, well, anything that’s not to your liking about your everyday life. We all need a break once in a while from the “same old, same old” routines we follow, of getting up and getting to work, making dinner and doing dishes at night, mowing the same lawns, watching the same TV from the same couch. A lot of people have a fear of change, so diving in and literally changes everything in a moment is a great way to get over that!
The Result: Who knows? At the very least, you’ll have had a nice little vacation away from daily reality, and feel refreshed when you get back home. But as they say, “adventure awaits…” Who’s to say you won’t end up finding a reason to stay?
7. Make a new daily plan.
How: Analyze what your average weekdays and weekends look like. Chances are that somewhere in your day you’re absolutely killing time with meaningless junk tasks or absolutely nothing. Find those “dead times” in your days, and find something new and better to replace them with. Chances are good that your mornings are underwhelming in their accomplishments, so start there. Maybe add one of those hobbies or online courses, maybe add a weekly call to your mom (who knows, moms are wise — maybe she can just tell you how to get unstuck and save you a lot of time). Maybe just pick up another job or an extra shift and see if you can’t change your financial position enough (and quickly enough) to take your life on a whole new turn.
Why: Why not? That might be a better question. You’re wasting time. Nobody ever got anywhere big in life by sitting around and waiting for the excitement to come to them; they had to get out there and MAKE things happen TO them. With a new financial picture, you can change your car, change your living space, and change your life!
The Result: I, for one, hope you replace that time with something that lights a fire under your butt and puts on you a fast-track to living the life you’re designing. I want you to change up that plan and be happier, more productive, richer, and become one of those people that is always telling everyone around them how they need to be like a shark — always moving or you’re dead. Sharks always move because life is on the move. Stop being complacent and swim against the current for once!
8. Get spiritual.
How: Go to church, find a good religious documentary on Netflix, or just read the Bible, even for the heck of it. Take a quiet, solitary walk through deep nature, stop to reflect on the way ripples on a pond look, or just watch the sun go down. There are obviously countless ways that you can connect yourself with whatever you consider being the spiritual side of life.
Why: If you believe in the story of creation by dust particles in space smashing together to form rocks, then planets, and then eventually life, you’ve got to realize that we didn’t come to exist out of literal pieces of dust to be just as useless in life. If you believe in the story of creation by the hand of God, then you KNOW we didn’t come to exist to just sit around doing nothing new, being nothing worthwhile, and feeling like crap.
The Result: If you do this one right, you’ll have an inexplicable sense of purpose with your life. Maybe you’ll have a revelation and just suddenly “see” your path to your dream life in those pond ripples. Maybe you’ll read a passage in the Bible that really resonates with you, and you’ll suddenly see how you got to where you are and what you’re meant to do in life. Or maybe you’ll just finally get a chance to meditate quietly and let all the stress of life go for a little while, and that will be enough to let you use your clear head to think, feel some peace, and get moving again.
9. Remove the toxic people from your life.
How: It’s incredibly hard but pretty simple to do this: you just simply give the person(s) fair warning that they’re making a negative impact on your life, and if they don’t respect you enough to respond to that and make some necessary changes, you just stop interacting with them and move on with your life. It’s hard, but sometimes it just needs to be done.
Why: If you’re constantly trying to get that one friend to get his crap together, or you’re tired of always feeling put down by that one uncle, you’re doing yourself a disservice by continuing to go through the same motions with them over and over again. If things haven’t changed in a long time, and if they don’t change after fair warning and a serious, adult discussion, then you’ve got to believe that they aren’t going to. So you can either choose to stay miserable because of them, or you can decide to break free from it.
The Result: You’ll likely have a few feelings of sadness when the ties are finally cut, but you’ll have a huge sense of relief that you can finally move forward with your own life and stop being held back by these others around you. It is called your life, after all.
10. Admit that you have (and will continue to) make mistakes, and that’s ok.
How: Literally just repeat this personal motto to yourself as often as needed: “I am human; I sometimes screw up and that’s fine. Sometimes life sucks, and that’s fine too. It won’t last forever; I can choose to simply ride it out, or do something about it.”
Why: A lot of us have so much trouble getting unstuck for no better reason than we don’t realize that we put ourselves there, so we are also capable of getting ourselves back out again. I mean, you’re in your current un-dream job because you CHOSE to settle for it. I don’t want to hear complaints about how you couldn’t afford this or that college, or how it was the only job available. Not all of us are willing to be starving artists on the streets, but some people are, and some of them make it big. They just have a bigger willingness to gamble (and a bigger willingness to risk failure) than the rest of us.
The Result: The goal with this effort is simply to slap yourself on the face and wake you up to the fact that life is full of ups and downs, and getting back uphill is just plain hard sometimes. Mistakes are a chance to learn something new and apply that to your future self and see if it can be avoided. If it can’t, then it’s fine to say “oh well” and just roll with it. I mean, did you know that Steve Jobs’ first Macintosh computer was a flop Steve Jobs’ first Macintosh computer was a flop, and he got the boot from the company that he started?
How To Get Unstuck In Life
Maybe you’re reading the list above thinking it sounds too involved, like too much effort, and too unlikely to ever be effective.
But you’re completely wrong.
The list above is the tedious steps you need to go through if you simply fail at the absolute ultimate way to get out of the rut your life is currently in: stop calling it “a rut” and start calling it “life.”
A rut in the mud is caused by the tires that spin it into existence.
Don’t be a tire.