If there’s one feeling that freaks me out the most, I think it’s feeling struck.
The frustration of going nowhere fast combines an unfortunate mix of boredom and hopelessness all rolled into one.
You’re not satisfied, yet at the same time, you don’t feel like there’s a whole lot you can do about it.
Being stuck is the nemesis to all growth, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what life is about?
When it comes to finding as much fulfillment, success, and happiness as possible, there are certain mistakes that can hold us back.
Most of these come down to the way we think, which then impacts the things we do.
These little mistakes usually creep up on us without us noticing, but they silently have a big impact on our ability to progress and move forward. By better understanding these common pitfalls, we can hopefully try to avoid them.
1) Playing it safe
We play it safe for all sorts of reasons.
For starters, we’re biologically hardwired to a certain extent to seek out security. So we may not always notice all the ways we hide ourselves away.
It all comes down to fear.
If it were guaranteed that we could never fail, we wouldn’t have any reservations about sticking our neck out. But most opportunities involve an element of risk.
These days those risks tend not to be a matter of life or death. They’re a knock to our ego and a bruising to our self-esteem.
When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound a big deal, but it still feels like one. This is why the sting of defeat is often enough to tempt many of us into playing small.
We may feel afraid of change because it brings with it the unknown.
The problem is that when we refuse to step out of our comfort zone we cut ourselves off from growth. That can leave us feeling pretty uninspired and stuck in life.
2) Thinking too much about what could go wrong
I’m all for realism, but a healthy dose of optimism mixed in there has been proven to be optimal for our well-being.
That’s because all too often, we end up talking ourselves out of things with our doomsday approach.
It’s yet another reason why we really have to keep an eye on our inner dialogue and how it shapes our beliefs and actions.
People who stay stuck in life often get lost in their negative self-talk. They constantly doubt their abilities and undermine their potential.
The mind hones in on all the things that could go wrong. It obsesses with all the pitfalls and problems, and in the process, skips over what we stand to gain.
The framework we use is powerful. Approaching experiences with a growth mindset allows us to think more positively.
That way, we know that even if things do go wrong, it will provide important lessons that can provide a springboard to success.
Self-compassion and positivity are not just a way of life, they’re tools we use to get unstuck.
3) Focusing on past mistakes
Rumination keeps us stuck in a slightly different way.
It keeps us locked in the past where we have absolutely zero control. After all, what’s done is done.
We can’t invent a time machine and go back.
It’s over, yet when we keep thinking about bad things that may have happened, we force ourselves to keep on reliving it.
We perpetuate the suffering rather than letting it go so we can move on.
Of course, letting go isn’t easy. It’s not like anybody wants to keep making themselves miserable by being stuck in the past.
But it takes conscious effort to stop doing it.
First off, we have to be mindful of when it happens and bring greater awareness about our triggers.
Then we have to find constructive distractions to break the habit. We need to learn to question our thoughts when we notice it.
The more present we are in this very moment, the less stuck we feel and the more of our attention and focus we’re giving to the now.
4) Hoping inspiration will magically strike one day
A lack of clarity can leave you wondering where to turn. So instead, you end up doing nothing until you decide. That’s often a mistake.
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to stumble upon purpose. Those few who claim to have always known their calling are much rarer than we imagine.
The reality is that the majority of us have to engage in plenty of trial and error along the way. Rather than automatically having a clear vision, we need to create one.
We have to get to know ourselves better and find out what gives us the most pleasure and meaning in life.
Often we get closer to what we want out of life by discovering what we don’t like first. We have to start seeing everything as more of an experiment.
If you are hoping the answers will simply come to you in one powerful download, chances are you’ll stay stuck.
It’s action that helps us decide which direction to take in life.
5) Inadvertently boxing themselves in
Often what prevents us from making life changes is our self-image.
We get very attached to the labels we pick up in life, and they can end up defining us.
Whilst labels sometimes give us a sense of belonging, they can also easily box us in.
We start to see ourselves as a narrowly defined thing. For example, “I am a stay-at-home mom” or “I am an accountant”.
The trouble is when it comes to stepping outside of those labels and broadening our horizons we then start to feel limited.
We think that we can’t change careers at 48, because we’ve always done the same job.
But as soon as we start to zoom out, we realize how much more we are than the narrow definitions we may have gotten used to.
We can see the abundance of qualities, traits, and skills that lead us down any particular path in the first place.
Often it’s not even a reinvention of yourself, it’s merely a rediscovery of who you are right now, and that’s something that’s always evolving.
6) Not making the time for self-exploration
Time changes us, both physically and mentally. As you’re always evolving, there is always something new to discover about yourself.
Self-inquiry is fundamental to personal development. That means staying curious, about not only ourselves but the world around us.
When we do, we expand.
As pointed out by psychologist, writer and professor Ryan Howes, Ph.D in Psych Central, it’s all about “taking a look at your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors and motivations and asking why. It’s looking for the roots of who we are — answers to all the questions we have about [ourselves]. Self-exploration helps people understand and accept who they are and why they do what they do, which improves self-esteem, communication, and relationships,”
If we don’t keep asking questions, we stay ignorant to so much of what makes us tick.
We don’t even notice the bad habits or destructive beliefs that can keep us prisoner.
7) Caring too much about what others think
Chances are if you don’t give a damn whatsoever about what anyone thinks, you’re not empowered, you’re just a selfish asshole.
Because part of living together in social groups means it’s in our DNA to be influenced by what others think of us.
But we can end up caring too much about everyone else’s opinions and neglect our own.
We follow the expected path, rather than the one we want to take. And we end up regretting it someday, even if it’s not until we reach our deathbed.
Focusing too much on everybody else is one of those red herrings that keeps us stuck.
When we stay in our lane rather than looking around at what everyone else is doing we not only cut down on our FOMO, but we learn to listen to our own intuition.
8) Telling themselves it’s too late
After we box ourselves in, we usually follow it up with the misbelief that there’s not a lot we can do about it now.
Hopefully, things are changing, but there is still plenty of ageism floating around.
It can convince us that once we hit a certain stage of life it’s too late to make big changes or shake things up.
But that’s just not true. Whilst there’s breath in your body it’s never too late. Countless people have proved this by making drastic shifts at all phases of life.
There’s a meme floating around online that reminds us:
“Normalize finding love in your 40’s. Normalize discovering and chasing new dreams in your 30’s. Normalize finding yourself and your purpose in your 50’s. Life doesn’t end at 25. Let’s stop acting like it does.”
I would second that. Yet as a woman already well into her 40’s I’d say you can quite easily double those ages.
The point is, it doesn’t matter how old you are, new opportunities, lessons, and experiences always await.
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