10 ways to change your life when nothing is going your way

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Harsh fact: at any given time, in any part of the world, there is someone going through a hard time. So hard that literally nothing is going right. 

Every move ends up yielding zilch. They give 100% and more but keep facing a solid wall. On top of that, their partner cheats on them. They just can’t catch a break! 

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny, like the movie Fargo. And maybe it would, if you weren’t the one going through it. 

But if you are, there’s absolutely nothing funny about it. It’s downright depressing when nothing seems to go your way. 

Is there a way to turn the tide? Definitely. It won’t happen overnight, but if you do these ten things, you can reset, take control, and steer your life in a new direction. 

1) Have a good cry 

Now, the first order of business is to have yourself a good old-fashioned cry. Make it an ugly cry, even. 

Why? Because to move forward, you need to release pent-up emotions. When you’re just trying to smile through it all, you’re probably holding back a bundle of emotions deep inside. 

Anger, frustration, fear, bitterness, maybe a tiny smidge of victimhood…I can’t blame you if you’re feeling all of these inside. 

But much like clearing out caches and cookies from our computers frees them up and makes them perform better, so does letting go of everything that slows us down in real life. 

Believe me, crying is cathartic. It’s a natural and healthy way to process feelings. 

Then, once you’re done…

2) Figure out what you can and can’t control

Similarly, letting go of what you can’t control is liberating. 

Much of our frustration comes from the fact that we can’t wrangle situations to go our way. Life throws too many other factors in the mix!

So, while we may indeed give our best in everything we do, stark realities like systemic inequalities, lack of resources and support, the right timing, and many others get in the way. 

That’s why it’s important to look at things objectively and see how much of it really is beyond your control. Then, readjust your expectations and focus on what you can do. 

And one thing you definitely can control is your own space, as the next section shows…

3) Get organized

There’s a funny thing that happens to me every time I feel blah or in the dumps. I have this spontaneous desire to clear out my space and organize my things. 

Even as a teenager, I already had this strange urge that’s strongest when I’m going through something difficult. 

A study by the University of Connecticut explains this better. According to the researchers, “Our findings show that ritualization may be a spontaneous response to anxiety.”

Plain and simple, the repetitive nature of cleaning and organizing is soothing. Aside from that, it packs so many other things in the way of mental health: 

  • It gives us a sense of control
  • It teaches us mindfulness
  • It provides mental inspiration and improves focus

I like to think of it like giving ourselves a blank slate. An environmental reset, if you will. 

A clear space is symbolic of a clearer path ahead. Exactly what we need to change our lives!

4) Try new things

Now that you’ve got a fresh space and a fresh mindset, what’s the next best thing to do? 

Carry on with the theme of “New You” and try something new!

You know what they say – the comfort zone is a deadly place to be. It may seem safe, but it may also be the reason why nothing is going your way. It may be the reason why you’re stuck in a rut.

It doesn’t have to be anything big, though. You can take baby steps with little actions. 

Change the curtains that have been in your living room since the turn of the millennium. 

Wear a bold color that makes the neutrals in your wardrobe hang their heads in shame. 

Or just try a hairstyle you’ve never had before! According to Dr. Jaime Zuckerman in Harper’s Bazaar, a significant change in hairstyle represents a rebirth, a new life change

And while you’re at it…

5) Treat yourself well

Self-care is one of the first things to go when we’re feeling discouraged. We think, what’s the point of dressing up/exercising/eating well, etc., when nothing seems to go right anyway? 

I believe that on some level, we attract the energy we put out there. And it all begins with the self. If you aren’t feeling good about yourself, it will show. 

Remember when I talked about what you can control? Self-care is one of those. No matter what’s going on in your life, you do have the power to choose how you present yourself, how you nourish your mind and body. 

And it’s not just for the sake of outward appearances or superficiality. It also has an impact in the way you think. 

Investing in self-care sends a powerful message to yourself and the world around you. You’re saying you respect and love yourself, and you’re definitely worth the effort. 

And that can lead to a subtle but profound shift in how you approach life’s challenges.

6) Avoid negativity

Speaking of energy, you probably already know that being around negativity can keep you tied down where you are. 

For instance, if the people around you constantly criticize or belittle your ambitions, it can feel discouraging. You may even start believing them after a while. 

Or if you hang out with friends who have no ambition themselves or are content with bashing others, that’s not exactly going to help you move forward. 

As I mentioned earlier, energy is contagious. So, seek out more positive influences. Let go of the ones who make you feel bad about yourself or just keep you in a cesspool of negative emotions

You don’t need that kind of energy to keep you pinned to your current location. 

7) Trust the universe

As you let go of the forces that hold you back, I’d like to propose a different way of thinking – trust the universe. 

I’m aware that this makes me sound like New Age-y, but it’s not as complicated or suspicious as all that. 

It’s just that I’ve found this a useful tool to let go of control and have a little more faith. It involves a certain belief, though, in the interconnectedness of things. 

For instance, those failures you’ve been having? Maybe that’s a sign that that path wasn’t for you. They were merely preparing you for the right one.

The partner who cheated on you? Well, good thing you dodged that bullet! Now you know how to choose better next time. 

Do you see what I’m getting at? Sometimes, those things don’t go our way because they’re not for us, period. They’re just getting you ready for the next stage.

Personally, I’ve always believed that I am right where I should be, no matter what’s going on. 

It’s all about your mindset. 

As the poet Khalil Gibran said, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

8) Formulate new goals

Trusting in the universe doesn’t mean you should be passive about it, though. That doesn’t mean you should just rely on fate or destiny. 

Because it’s still your life – ultimately, you’re still in the driver’s seat. 

So, given that you feel like you’re getting nowhere, maybe all you need is a new road map. 

Sit down and set some new goals. Think about what it is you’d like to do and how to get there, taking into account all the factors that are out of your control. 

Basically, it’s resetting and starting fresh. But this time, hopefully, you’ve learned from your past mistakes and set your new goals with those lessons in mind.  

9) Volunteer and help others

What if you truly don’t know what to do with your life? No clue on the direction to take? 

Why not get out of your head for a while and look outwards? Volunteering and helping others could be the compass you need to find purpose and direction.

It could show you what you’re good at and spark a passion in you!

It certainly worked for me. Back when I was feeling lost myself, I volunteered at an orphanage on the weekends. 

It wasn’t much, really. We just played games, and us volunteers taught the kids some basic literacy skills. 

But you know what? That path led me to be an early childhood teacher, and that’s what I’ve been for most of my life. 

I’m not saying volunteer work will magically reveal the career that’s meant for you, although that’s entirely possible, as it was in my case. 

What I’m saying is, the very act of giving and helping others instills a sense of purpose in our lives. And it puts things into perspective, for sure. 

Research also says that helping others helps the helpers (try saying that 10x for a tongue twister moment). 

Like, hey, nothing may be going right, but look at you, you’re making a difference in the world! How can that be anything but right? 

10) Celebrate the small stuff

Finally, I’d like to invite you to take a leisurely walk through your days. Are there small things that make you happy? Or at least make your life easier? 

Maybe you have a neighbor who always waves hello. Or you found a parking spot immediately at the mall. Or you ticked off an item on your to-do list. 

Look, nailing the big stuff like a high-paying job or a fully paid mortgage is certainly cause for celebration. But the truth is, a joyful life is mainly about being grateful for the small, everyday moments. 

A little tweak in the way you view your life can make all the difference and get you living more joyfully. 

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Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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