On the surface, it appears that everything is going great in your life. Things are going like they’re supposed to. Your work week this week looks almost exactly like your work week last week, and your weekend will be similar, too.
Quietly, you begin to feel something on the inside. You’re not sure what it is exactly, but it isn’t comfortable. It’s anxiety mixed with discontent and frustration. But it stays inside, for fear of letting others know that deep down you aren’t really that happy.
Why aren’t you happy? Maybe you don’t know. That’s the hardest part of the whole thing. You probably have most of the things you pictured you’d have by now five years ago.
But somehow, you know something isn’t right.
If Things Don’t Feel Right, They Aren’t (but You Can Fix That)
I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail, than to attempt nothing and succeed.
– Robert H. Schuller
Without getting on a motivational guru pedestal, you need to remember that you get one chance to live your life. One. You’ll never be how old you are again and never have access to the resources you have now. If things don’t feel right, they aren’t. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
Getting out of a self-imposed rut is not easy. You’ll need to peel back the layers of your life and search for the deeper meaning behind the feelings you are experiencing. You may need to challenge your beliefs around certain things and ask some hard questions. For example:
- What about life right now is not satisfying to you?
- What are you chasing after in hopes of a better life? How, specifically, is having that thing in your life going to make you happier or more fulfilled?
- How do you talk to yourself about your hopes and dreams? Do you have goals in place or simply “wish” things would be a certain way?
- Who are you spending the majority of your time with right now? Are they good for the direction you’d like to head?
Each one of us is equipped to find our true north. There’s always a way to fix things when they don’t feel right. It isn’t easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but the sooner you begin the process, the sooner you’ll be able to experience life as you’re meant to.
Here are the three steps you should take if you’re stuck in a rut. The deeper you go, the better your results will be.
1. Write out what you’re feeling
Set a clock for ten minutes and write out exactly the feelings you’ve been experiencing. Take time to consider how you feel in certain situations. Is work where you’re feeling “stuck”? Is your significant other causing you to feel torn between two paths? What else is pertinent to the rut you’re in?
The important thing is to remain objective in your writing. Treat it like a mind dump, meaning write everything and anything that comes to mind. It only has to make sense to you.
Truth be told, I dislike journaling. It’s hard to produce original thoughts, feels slow, and challenges me to dive deep and turn over rocks I normally let be. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, which is why I bring it up.
Writing out how you’re feeling is a way of giving life to your experiences. You free yourself from the purgatory of being uncertain when you make your feelings tangible. From there, you give yourself the greatest chance of getting out of the “funk” you’ve put yourself in.
2. Extract out of that exactly what’s going on
Once you’ve written out your experiences, pinpoint the patterns of all that you wrote. Does everything you wrote relate to one area of life, such as your career or love life? Are you in conflict with two or more areas of your life?
By the end of step two, you should be able to fill in these two sentences.
“I am in a rut because _____.”
“I find myself stuck in this rut when I do or involve myself in ________.”
3. Find a way to interrupt the pattern
Change happens when you take action. The first two steps will offer you clarity, but you’ll keep experiencing the same things if you don’t set a goal going forward.
Set a goal of interrupting the pattern or behavior that is causing you to feel bad. Picture yourself chopping down a tree. If you really want that tree to come down, you have to attack it closer to the roots. Staying superficial and chopping off branches won’t take that tree down.
For example, if you determine that the root of your behavior is that you aren’t working hard enough to reach your health or weight loss goals, inaction or indifference towards your goals is the pattern you’re looking to address. Why are you indifferent? Why aren’t you taking action?
You can change this in a number of ways, but the easiest of all is to pick a fun approach to achieving your goal that you aren’t currently using.
Seriously, fun is often the solution. You may love the idea of reaching your goal, but you will never get there if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. We like to pretend that the “fun” approach to achieving goals is too easy or not the right way, but the truth is, it’s the only way. You must enjoy what you do to make it habitual.
You dug this rut, and only you can dig yourself out
Call it a rut or being in a “funk.” Call it whatever you want. The feeling of knowing that things aren’t right in your life without being able to pinpoint exactly why is a mental prison that only we can create for ourselves. If you’ve felt it before, you know this to be true.
This is your 10-15 minute solution for changing the results you’re currently getting. The tools to point your compass in the right direction exist inside of you already. Be one of the few who take the time to understand what’s going on so that you’re able to make real change.