One day, seemingly out of nowhere, stuff that used to work wasn’t working anymore.
It was like I’d transformed overnight from being a confident, clear-about-my-purpose go-getter, to an unsure, tired and terrified young woman about to hit her 30s.
I was no longer passionate about my work (photography) and I felt aimless.
It was like I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I won’t lie, the moment I acknowledged these feelings, I went into a panic because I’d never experienced them before.
Until I opened my journal and found an entry from 2014 where I’d written about feeling restless.
And now it was mid-2016.
So I made a decision
I realized that in the busyness of life, I’d swept this feeling of restlessness aside.
So I decided that I would give myself ‘till Dec 2016 to see if the feelings lingered. If they did, I was going to change gears in 2017 and do something else with my life.
Little did I know what this decision would open up.
I embarked on a quest to get unstuck.
And in the process made some decisions that cost me a lot of money and time.
But it also led me to a beautiful place of finally understanding who I am, and how I’m to serve the world.
So what are the reasons?
I’ve identified 7 main reasons why you might be feeling stuck.
Part of getting the right answers is figuring out where the problem lies so that you can ask the proper questions.
While I may not offer solutions in this write-up,(watch out for part 2 next week), I hope this post answers some of your questions regarding the feelings that you can’t seem to explain.
And gets you to do an audit and see where you might be.
So let’s dive in.
1. You’ve disconnected from your sense of purpose
Before you roll your eyes and move on, hear me out. I know this elusive word has been overused and you may not care for it 🙂
Your purpose is not what you do, but it is ingrained in you.
It helps you answer questions like why am I here and what was I made for?
I believe that we are all born with a sense of purpose, but if it is not cultivated, it other voices and circumstance we face drown it out.
So whenever I’ve felt stuck, or listless, I’ve known that I had disconnected to my bigger ‘why’.
And I find that this is true for most people that I work with – the feeling of being stuck or lost kicks in once they stop being guided by their sense of purpose, what keeps the fire burning within them.
2. You are working outside your zone of genius
Your personal zone of genius is when you are doing what you feel you are born to do – when your strengths and purpose intersect. In this area, you are unstoppable.
If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. – Thomas Edison
You may not have everything figured out, but you can stay up all night doing this stuff and not feel like you are missing out on sleep.
Ever had such moments?
I’m a firm believer of in putting in the work, earning your 10 000 hrs and the like. But I’ve found that it’s difficult to work hard when I’m not passionate about something.
Here’s what I mean.
In high school, I technically quit chemistry 3rd term of Form 4. In my eyes, ions and how they bond was as interesting as watching turtles racing.
Other subjects, such as additional maths and literature were just as challenging, but I was passionate about them, so I did all I can to not get a U in them.
Chemistry, however, was another story, I could not muster the energy to even try at it (bad I know).
So what am I saying?
I’m not saying you must quit what you are doing like I did, but that maybe you should figure out if the tasks you take on daily make you feel alive.
3. You’ve stopped having fun
All work and no play makes one dull they say.
What if work could be as fun as play?
I mean it’s not a far-fetched principle, there are some people that tell us that they love what they are doing so much that it doesn’t feel like work.
And I’ve had glimpses of this in my life.
Work, work, work – no fun, no creativity.
This is another reason you could possibly be feeling stuck.
It can even be something that you started off passionate and excited about, but once you got in, the daily grind sucked the fun out of the thing that was initially fun for you.
For example, say you are passionate about photography. You excitedly buy a camera, a laptop, some editing software and start a fan page on Facebook to showcase your work.
Then you start shooting, and quickly discover that getting to the level you’d like is going to take a lot more.
And that oh, 80% of the time is spent on admin, marketing, finances and just a measly 20% or even less, on the actual shooting.
If you are not strong on your why, and if you don’t quickly figure out a way to make sure that you are working on tasks that are fun for you, the feeling of being stuck will quickly set in.
4. You are doing too much/ thinking too much
It used to frustrate me when cartoon characters would think, and even look like they were running, while in fact, they were running furiously on the same spot.
And this is what frantic, uninspired action can look like too.
Have you ever listened to someone trying to explain what it is that they do, and you leave not knowing what exactly it is that they do because they seem to be all over the place?
Internet cafe, photographer, designing websites, running a food truck – all at the same time?
Or on a different level, you have a lot of ideas that you are always talking about. You even have half finished business plans for some of them that you started with good intentions. But they just never go anywhere.
Even though it might feel like a long time, our time here on earth is limited, and taking on too much sometimes will lead to staying stuck and not moving forward.
5. You are not executing
One of my mentors, Todd Herman always says that what you do on the field of play is what matters.
It doesn’t matter how much you know, conferences you attend or books you read.
The bottom line is, what are you doing with all your knowledge?
Being overly-informed often leads to being paralysis because you then tend to over-analyze everything.
A business plan might feel like you are getting somewhere, but until you implement it’s contents, it’s just that, a plan.
Can you imagine being pregnant for 2, 3, 4, or even 5 years?
I shudder at the thought.
But most of our ideas just live in our heads and on pieces of paper, waiting to be birthed.
While it’s not a disability, I found that I was limited in things I could do and foods I could eat when pregnant, so I almost felt ‘stuck’ some days while waiting for my babies to come.
So, the ideas you have need to leave your head in order for you to move on and get some new ones, if you don’t, you get stuck and stay that way for a while.
6. You are working in isolation
Sometimes your breakthrough lies in finding the right people to serve or partner with.
That purpose that I wrote about as the first point? It usually gets realized once you get on the right bus with the right people.
So feeling stuck?
Assess who you’ve been spending the most time listening to, and their input in your life.
You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so make sure that they are who you want them to be.
You might like: 3 Instances when sharing your dreams could delay success
7. You need a break
This one may be a scary one, especially if you are go-go type of person.
Sometimes you need to stop in order to get unstuck.
If you are lost, you can keep wondering about hoping to stumble upon your path.
Or you can stop, retrace your steps and ask for directions in order to get back on track.
I’ve done both and found, and I can confirm that the former requires more energy.
Our soul usually carries clues for us about what we need to be doing, and unless we stop to listen, we won’t know until we reach what feels like a breaking point.
Now that I’m at the tail-end of the process, I consider being stuck a gift and an invitation to discover parts of myself that I’d packed away.
And if approached with curiosity and awareness, the process of getting unstuck can be a truly liberating one.
I hope this encourages you and helps you audit and discover where you are, let me know in the comments if something resonates!