The psychologist Carl Jung once said, “Be grateful for your difficulties and challenges, for they hold blessings. In fact, man needs difficulties; they are necessary for personal growth, individuation and self-actualization.”
Of course, Jung was right. But that doesn’t mean that we all follow in his footsteps.
In fact, many people are so terrified of challenges that they prefer to stay in their comfort zones. Unfortunately, this also means that they don’t grow.
Want to find out if you or someone you know could use a little bit of a push?
Look no further. Here are the 9 behaviors of people who never seem to move forward in life.
1) They’re hesitant to try something new
Novelty is exciting as much as it is frightening.
If you try something new, you have no clue whether you’ll be good at it or not. And the huge amount of uncertainty may scare some people off because they’d rather keep doing what they know they’re good at in order to avoid failure.
If you don’t try, you don’t fail, right?
Except that you don’t succeed, either. And while you might think that confidence is born from doing what you’re good at, it’s actually got more to do with trying, failing, and figuring out how to win next time.
In other words, it’s linked to adversity. The more challenges you conquer, the more resourceful, confident, and self-assured you become.
2) They go through the motions with no purpose
Ever heard of the Japanese concept Ikigai?
It means “reason for being”. Your Ikigai is your purpose. It’s what sets your soul alight; what keeps you up at night; what’s so immersive that you forget the time.
Ikigai can take on many different forms, from gardening or looking after one’s family to writing, owning a business, or working a corporate job.
It all depends on what fulfills you on a fundamental level.
Unfortunately, people who never seem to move forward in life tend to share one defining characteristic: they haven’t yet found their Ikigai.
If you’re stuck in a job you don’t enjoy, have no hobbies that motivate you to strive for something better, and spend your evenings watching TV, it very likely means you’re stuck in a rut because you feel you have no purpose.
But the truth is… you do. You just haven’t found it yet. Keep looking.
3) They aren’t big on planning
It is one thing to find one’s meaning in life, but when push comes to shove, it all depends on what you do with it.
To know one’s purpose is very different from applying it in practice. The reason you’re stuck could have to do with the fact that you’re not taking any active steps toward untangling yourself from your current circumstances.
Enter… planning and goal-setting!
Look, if you want to write a book, that’s all good and well, but if you never actually make any concrete plan and break it down into achievable steps, it’ll end up buried in the depths of your computer.
SMART goals for the win:
4) They’re all talk, no action
I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard people dream up an amazing future for themselves, only to never take any steps toward making it come true.
You and I both know that always standing in one place can get incredibly frustrating.
Your feet start to get sore, you’re bored as hell, your back is aching, and even though you’re scared to take the next step, you know that this state of inaction will slowly ruin your body.
And that’s exactly why people who aren’t moving forward keep wishing they could. They talk about all the great things they’ll achieve, all the amazing places they’ll visit, and all the mind-blowing experiences they’ll have.
Two years later, here they are, still rambling on about the same thing but doing nothing about it.
You’ve got to get moving. Now.
5) They love to take shortcuts
Look, shortcuts aren’t all bad. I’m a firm believer that working smart is much better than working hard.
But if you’re always stuck in your comfort zone, there’s a high chance you’re not working either smart or hard. You’re just not working. Full stop.
Every time you get an opportunity to finally move forward, you jump at it, only to realize that it’s much harder than expected. Soon after, you begin looking for an easy way out.
But the good things in life come at a cost. Nothing that’s worth having is easy.
What’s more, it is usually through embracing tough challenges and forcing ourselves to put in the work that we grow the most.
Sometimes, a shortcut turns out to be a dead end. Now you’ve got to turn around, go back, and decide to walk down the winding path that ultimately leads you to where you want to go.
6) They avoid the burden of responsibility
Of course, choosing to go down the path that’s right for you is no easy feat.
It means accepting the responsibility for your own decisions. It means taking accountability. It means owning up to your mistakes.
And if you lack the confidence to believe in yourself and your potential, you might find it incredibly difficult to carry all that responsibility without crumbling underneath the weight.
But you know what?
You don’t need to do it all at once. You’ve got a long journey ahead of you, after all, and no one expects you to keep walking with no breaks.
If you struggle to trust your decisions and take accountability, start small. Learn a new skill. Go on a solo adventure. Do something you’re afraid of.
Over time, you’ll see that practice makes perfect, and as your confidence grows, you’ll be better able to make your dreams a reality.
7) They struggle to accept criticism
We all hate criticism. It’s uncomfortable to have your flaws or mistakes pointed out. The ego despises it.
However, criticism is also incredibly helpful when it comes to personal growth.
For example, a couple of my friends told me in the past that I was very impatient and didn’t actively listen half the time.
Was it nice to hear them say that? Hell no.
Did I thank them for telling me and try to incorporate that feedback moving forward? Absolutely.
As a result, I am now much more patient because I started regularly meditating and I try to listen with much more intention when chatting with my friends.
Thanks to these newfound skills, I am also better able to focus on what matters, cultivate peace of mind, and live in the present moment.
Receiving criticism feels rubbish, but if you learn to accept and embrace it, you will become a better version of yourself, not to mention that your relationships will improve in quality.
8) They’re still stuck in the past
Another reason you may struggle to move forward in life could be the fact that you still haven’t left the past behind.
Some people hold onto regrets while others might reminisce about the good old days, but no matter whether you view your past in a positive or negative light, it’s getting in the way of your life in the present moment.
You can’t move forward if there’s a rope tied around your navel, dragging you back.
What’s helped me leave my past behind the most was to recognize that the past essentially doesn’t exist. It’s an abstract concept.
The only thing that’s real are your memories, and even those slowly fade away with time.
You can’t reach out into the past and fix what was broken or relive your favorite memories again, but do you know what you can do?
Take action in the now. That’s the only thing within your power.
9) They don’t believe in themselves
It’s completely normal to doubt yourself. Even the most successful of us do.
In fact, it’d be quite troubling if you never had any doubts whatsoever because it’d signal you probably lack self-awareness.
But it’s one thing to have doubts and another to let those doubts eat you whole.
What helps me in those moments of insecurity is to remind myself that my doubts are just thoughts, and thoughts aren’t real.
They’re passing through my head like clouds, and it’s up to me to decide which thoughts I will focus on and manifest in reality.
Remember that you don’t need to be ultra-confident to go after your dreams and move forward in life.
Courage isn’t a lack of fear. It’s the decision to go ahead in spite of how terrified you feel.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
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