The internet is such a wonderful place. (sarcasm in print looks the same as everything else, which has to be intentional, right?) Okay fine – maybe “wonderful” is a bit of a stretch…so let’s go with unique. On that, I think we can all agree.
So this afternoon, the internet…in all of its uniqueness, shared the fact that today, September 1st, is “No Rhyme or Reason Day.” Why? Well…there’s no…anyway. It did, however, give me the “lightbulb moment” I had been looking for to write my first blog in god knows how long. Oh, and it’s why the image associated with this blog has absolutely nothing to do with it.
It seems I’m hearing about more and more people I know entering a season of change and transition in their lives. Some of them intentional while others are experiencing the sudden jerk of the proverbial carpet. Either way, change is becoming more and more prevalent in our lives every day. This is a good thing. Even when it sucks.
First – a truth bomb. I feel the majority of people that have the evil “change monster” show up at their door unexpectedly have actually been living in a scenario or situation that has had them unhappy, insecure, and feeling stuck for a really long time. Sometimes, the universe just gets tired of hearing you bitch and changes stuff for you. Now, I’ll agree that it could soften its approach at times, but its intentions are good. Of that I’m certain because, more often than not, you’re able to look back and say “if X hadn’t happened the way it did, I wouldn’t have/be what I am today.” It’s cliche, but you know it’s true.
Being stuck, for some people, is like being in a dark hole. You want to climb out of it but can’t see anything or find a rope or ladder. It overwhelms you with feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. The world seems to speed past while you stay exactly where you are.
You realize the need to get out of your current situation, but you feel held back by an even stronger desire to do nothing to change your condition.
The opposite is also true. Being stuck can also feel like everything is fine. Maybe even better than fine. We, by our human nature, are creatures of habit. We will equate familiar with secure. That could not be further from the truth, and is potentially the most dangerous mistake we make in our lives. The more comfortable we get in the familiarity of our surroundings the more dangerous our day to day actually becomes. More car accidents happen within a few miles of your house because that’s the part of your drive you’re most familiar with.
When we’re comfortable we miss things that would be glaringly obvious to us in an unfamiliar environment or scenario. Let me change that for you now.
If you’re in your comfort zone, you’re stuck.
The guy that’s been in the same job doing the same thing for 25 years is always the most shocked when he’s the first to get downsized.
Okay – so now what? Here’s a few soul-searching questions that can help you understand why you’re feeling stuck.
- Are my expectations of myself too high? Re-examine your expectations of yourself. You can’t do everything perfectly. Too often we grossly overestimate what we can do short term and underestimate what we’re capable of longterm. Maybe it’s something as simple as giving yourself more time to accomplish your goal or objective.
- You will steal your joy by comparing yourself to others and having expectations so lofty that you think you’re not enough. Stop looking at Instagram. We create unrealistic expectations for ourselves based on what we THINK other people are doing or have accomplished. Another huge mistake we make here is comparing our starting point to someone else’s accomplishments. We don’t see what it looked like for them on their first day – we’re seeing their results (which on social media – a lot of which is total bullshit, by the way. I’m not sayin…I’m just sayin.)
- What are my goals? Living without a purpose is one of the quickest ways to find yourself in a rut. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you ever know if you arrive? You can’t do anything if you have no sense of direction. Pick a direction and start moving. How do you do this?
- Put up a vision board. Pin pictures and words of things you find beautiful and inspiring on the vision board. Make brief notes of goals you want to accomplish. They can be big or small. This is a visual representation of your goals, which makes them feel within reach. Just writing them down often isn’t enough…you need to be able to SEE them.
- How much time do I spend daily on improving myself? Are you stuck because you are making no effort to expand your knowledge? Think about it. You have more time than you think. Consider the number of hours you spend on social media looking at all the people “happier and more successful than you.” *insert eye roll*
- Now think of how much of that time you could spend reading something you enjoy, learning a skill or a hobby. Pick one thing to do to improve yourself. It can be anything as long as it’s something you know will improve your mindset or skill at something. It doesn’t need to be something major, in fact, I’d recommend not picking something huge at first. Start small and give yourself a win. Pick something that you’re not as likely to give up on, and then stick with it and see how much progress you make.
- Do my friends motivate me? Do you choose your friends carefully? Are your friends supportive? Whether in-person or virtually, the people we surround ourselves with have a more significant effect on us than we like to admit. It’s been proven that if you take the salaries of the five people you hang around the most (the friends you chose) and average them out – it’s almost always close (nearly to the dollar) to your annual salary.
- Look at your vision board, pick one goal on the board and try to make a friend who is in that circle or knows people in that circle. Eventually, you will follow along with the tide motivated to live the life of your dreams by surrounding yourself with like-minded people.
- If you’ve got a mentor or if you know someone that is excelling or has a long track record of success is whatever it is you’re wanting to do – ask them who they know that you should know and then ask if they’d introduce you. The key? Expand your circle of friends…and maybe more importantly…the quality of your friends. Millionaires don’t have many broke friends.
- How willing am I to step out of my comfort zone? When was the last time you did something you found fascinating? Sometimes it helps to get away for a while. Change your environment for a day or two.
- Usually, we feel stuck because we are too comfortable with where we are physically in life. Do you want a new job? Apply. Do you want a relationship? Get out there. Do you want to travel? Go. Just do something different to change it up.
- If you can’t afford to go away or have the time, do something you wouldn’t normally do or something spontaneous. It helps to spice things up and get you out of your daily routine. This could be as simple as changing your morning routine. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand (this is really unique experience actually). Drive a different way to work. Listen to something different during the commute. Wear mismatched socks and see if anyone notices.
- Do I show gratitude for the things I enjoy? Gratitude lists can help us accomplish this. Write the things you are grateful for, even the smallest. Doing this regularly helps.
- You will find some good things that shine through your dark feelings. Tiny spots of light that brighten a dark hole. Recognize and appreciate those bright moments.
Remember, just because you feel trapped doesn’t mean that you are. If you feel stuck, move. You are in control of your life. If you take what actions you can take right now, you’re not stuck. Motivation is a byproduct of action, not a catalyst. Take action and the motivation to continue will show up.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today.Chinese proverb
The more things you try, the more likely it will be for you to find your place in this world. Find what you truly want in life and get started. Life is too short to be comfortable all the time. Oh, and you don’t have to justify any of it anyone because today is “No Rhyme or Reason Day.”