Sometimes it can feel like we’re stuck in life, doing the same things we’re unhappy with, over and over again.
Maybe you’ve been procrastinating on your meaningful work, or getting stuck in indecision or perfectionism. Maybe you’ve been putting off exercise or meditation, getting your finances in good shape, or making some other important change in your life.
We get stuck.
I’m a living testament to the truth that we can get unstuck.
In my life, I’ve been stuck many times — and it turns out there’s always a way through the stuckness. It’s not turning away from the stuckness, but turning towards it. Going through it. Embracing the stuckness, and letting it unstick itself.
I’m going to talk about a few principles of getting unstuck and creating a new path for yourself. And then talk about recommendations for changing your habits this year, or getting good at doing your meaningful work.
Ways to Getting Unstuck
There’s no one way to do this, but I’ve found some things that are incredibly helpful:
- Turn towards the difficulty. If you’ve been avoiding thinking about a difficult project, or your messy finances or messy clutter, or your exercise or diet or other health issues … not much will change until you turn towards it and face it. A willingness to turn towards the difficulty and work with it is one of the most important requirements to change.
- Make a decision & set an intention. If we want something different to happen, we have to decide to make a change. It’s as simple as that, and yet what happens is we get stuck in an in-between state, where we want to change but we haven’t made a clear decision to do so. A clear decision means we let go of all of the “should I do this or maybe not?” kind of self-talk, and just commit to the decision fully. And then we set an intention: what would we like to do?
- Be compassionate with yourself. When we keep doing the same things over and over again, we can get really down on ourselves. We get disappointed, discouraged, frustrated, and form a negative self-image. Trust me, I know this well! And yet, none of that helps us get unstuck — it only adds to the stuckness. So what would it be like to be kind to ourselves instead? That doesn’t mean we don’t try to change … it just means we stop adding self-discouragement to our list of challenges. Or at least, if we do, we start adding encouragement and compassion.
- Do it with others. Most people try to get unstuck and make a change by themselves. This feels safer. But it means you’re doing something tough on your own — which can work sometimes, but often doesn’t work. I’ve found it incredibly powerful and effective to do it with others. Find a group, do a challenge, get accountability, find a wolf pack to run with. You will find that it helps to not be alone and to get support when you feel like giving up.
- Set a time to practice with it, and keep up the practice. It’s funny how often we say we’re going to do something, but then don’t commit to a time. Make a date with yourself to do it. Or make a date with someone else to do it with them! Keep practicing with it, daily if possible, and you’ll see gradual change.
- Small victories, slow change, amazing progress. Focus on small victories at first. I told myself I just had to lace up my shoes and get out the door. I increase very gradually. In a year, I went from not being able to run 10 minutes, to running my first marathon. Gradual change equals huge progress over time.
- Progress, not perfection. You’re not trying to be perfect at this. You’re trying to trend in the right direction. Missed 4 days of meditation last week? Focus on the 3 days you did do! Keep making progress, and let go of small misses.
These are some of the most helpful things you can bring to any changes you want to make. Now let’s talk about two ways to change your life I’m offering.
Originally published on zenhabits.net