Updated: Jul 13
Are you feeling stuck in life and career for years? You feel like you are not moving anywhere, that your career choices don't give you chances to grow, or that your life has no meaning. You can't figure out how to move on - you feel worthless and confused.
The feeling of being stuck is one of the major stressors in life. It causes health issues and the effects are compounding. Over time, the feeling will evolve into anxiety and fear, and it will finally overwhelm you and take a toll on your mental health.
To get unstuck in life, you need to figure out why you are stuck, what areas of your life do you feel stuck in, what you should do to move past the barrier, and where you should go moving forward. In short, you need a battle plan and a roadmap.
For those who feel stuck in life and career for years and don't know what to do, here are some tips to get unstuck in life.
Why Are You Stuck in Life and Career?
Feeling stuck in your life and career simply means that you think you should be something different from what you are currently. You think life should be different from what it is. You are ready, motivated to change, and think that you are qualified to move to the next thing.
But the problem is, you just don't know how to get unstuck.
Figuring Out The Why
Before coming to "the how", the first thing that you need to do is to figure out "the why". What causes you to feel stuck?
If you say that you're feeling stuck for years in a career rut or in a dead-end job that you hate, it's easy to ask, "Why don't you just quit?" Jim Rohn once said, "If you don't like where you are, move. You are not a tree."
But not everybody can just quit their job and be fine. Sometimes we need to go a little deeper. The better questions would be, "What holds you back?" or "What makes you hate your job?" "Why do you need to move from where you are?"
And the questions can go further. It can be something like: "Are you unable to quit your job because you're afraid to get out of your comfort zone and that you'll fail?" or "Do you put a timeline to achieve something and it grows closer to the deadline while you're nowhere closer to your goal?" or "Are you waiting for that promotion but your boss never give you any indication to give it to you?"
You need to spend a good amount of time identifying the causes of this negative feeling before finding the solution. If you can't come up with the right questions on your own, ask for input from someone close to you that knows your predicament. Sometimes a new pair of eyes can see things from a fresh perspective that you can't see.
Reasons Why We Feel Stuck In Life and Career for Years
To help you kickstart your self-discovery journey, here are several common causes of feeling stuck.
Major changes are coming to your life. You know that you need to change, to move up. But the thought of having to deal with that is scary. Your subconscious is trying to keep you safe by keeping you away from things that will make you uncomfortable. So you tell yourself a story that you're stuck with and come up with convenient reasons why you can't go anywhere.
Instead of doing all the difficult things that you need to do to grow, it's so much easier to stay where you are and do what you always do. Throwing yourself a pity party is not helpful either.
Months or years later, you look at yourself and realized that you're not going anywhere. You're stuck.
Or so you say.
People can look at the same thing but see and react to it differently. It's a matter of perspective.
Life is always full of problems. But some see a problem as a welcome challenge to grow, some others see it as a troublesome burden to be avoided.
The wrong perspective can cause you to feel stuck if you view your life only as a collection of failures and turn a blind eye to all the achievements that you've made.
Sometimes you are ready to move up to the next stage of your life, but other things outside you hold you back.
Maybe the timing is just not right. Or maybe the place and the community you're at don't allow you to grow. It's also possible that you feel you need to prioritize the life of other people who need you or the relationships you have with others.
Those external factors or the combination of them can cause you to feel stuck in life and career for years and not able to move anywhere.
The Constant Comparison
And the state of the technology today doesn't help either. Social media has become the perfect stage for people to feel good by "bragging" about their "great achievements" for others to see while keeping their problems and failures to themselves.
If you fall into this echo chamber, all you will see is the "false" standard of how life should be and you will feel stuck and frustrated knowing that you can never meet that standard.
What Can You Do To Get Unstuck in Life?
After figuring out the root of your problem, you can start finding out how to bring yourself out of the situation. There are several things that you can do.
1. Accept and Acknowledge
It's frustrating knowing you have a problem but you can't do anything about it. That's how feeling stuck like. You know you need to move but you don't know how to do it.
The first step to get unstuck is to accept that you're currently feeling stuck and acknowledge that you don't know how to change your situation. Yet.
Then let the feeling free. Don't let it burden you. Just surrender, enjoy, and make the most of your situation.
There's a saying, "This too, shall pass." Roughly translated as no matter how hard your situation is, it will pass. But you have to let it.
Learning from your life experiences, you can tell that you're a survivor. You're here today because you've survived everything that life threw so far. Things may look bleak, but trust that you also have the strengths to survive this one.
2. Share Your Frustrations
Another way to lighten your burden is to vent out your pent-up emotions. Open up and share your frustrations with loved ones, friends, family, or people close to you that you can trust and support you. Talking to someone else helps.
But if you don't have this someone, you can always write your feelings down in a journal or diary.
You can't go wrong with the classic combination of pen and paper. But if you want to go digital, there are plenty of options starting from the simple desktop-based note-taking software to the dedicated web-based journaling apps.
Just load out everything that weighed you down to clear your head and your heart.
3. Talk to the Unstucks and the Stucks
Look around you. You'll be surprised to know that there are plenty of people who have experienced similar adversity as you. Everybody makes mistakes, but a great number of them are moving and growing. They are not stuck.
How did they do it? What's their secret?
Talk to them, ask for their advice, take notes, learn from their wisdom, and implement their tips.
On the other side of the coin, you could also talk to the people who are also feeling stuck in life and career for years - both offline and online. Going through the stuck stage alone is tough. You can help each other, share resources, give motivation, give insight about their job applications and CVs, and maybe even create support groups - even remotely via zoom for example.
4. Take a Break
Self care is important. Constant worrying about your situation and always trying to figure the way out can be very stressful and will influence your physical health.
Sometimes the best way to get unstuck is to move - even if it's not in the direction that you want. Take a break, do fun activities, get out of your routines for a while and see what the world has to offer. You can check off your bucket list, read books, take classes, do your hobbies, have a holiday trip, buy yourself gifts, anything.
It's like giving yourself a reboot.
Then with a refreshed mind and new energy, you might see things differently and spot something that you missed before. And since you've been in motion, you're technically unstuck.
5. Start a Gratitude Journal and Create New, Better Habits
What does keeping a gratitude journal have to do with getting unstuck?
Writing your gratitude for all the good things that happen every day will help you see that your life is not only about the negatives, but also about the positives. It should be a part of your pursuit of calm and helps you shift your focus to start seeing all the great things that you already have all along. You will improve both your self awareness and self worth, and start to see how much potential you have.
Writing is also a good therapy to calm your mind.
You can also create new, better habits that can improve your well-being. Start daily meditation to clear your mind and increase your ability to focus. Couple that with workouts to strengthen your core, consume a healthier diet, and drink a lot of water. Other than getting a stronger and healthier body, you'll also have better sleep and less depression.
The method is proven by science. Do this for a couple of weeks, make it your daily routine, and you will start to notice some improvements in your quality of life.
6. Set Easy, Small Goals and Track Your Progress
Along with your gratitude journals, start setting easy goals for your days. Don't forget to track them. Write down what daily goals are achieved and what isn't. Turn this daily grind into your second nature.
By doing this, you teach yourself that you are not losing. There are plenty of things that you can achieve every day. This will also tell you that you are moving forward, even though with small steps.
7. Focus on the Things That You Can Love
Feeling stuck can also come from the dislike of your current situation such as your relationship, the place where you live, or the work that you do. Waking up every day to the things that you hate can be a real struggle. After some time, the situation could mount to something toxic to your life.
You can, however, find little things that make you excited among those things that you hate. You can focus only on the things that you like.
Or you can also start incorporating things that you love into your days. Maybe listen to songs that you love while doing your work or put pictures of the people that you love so you can look at them all day.
This tip might not help you get out of your current condition, but it will make your days bearable. Given time, you might even start to look forward to your days and don't need to find ways to get away from your current condition anymore.
8. Keep Social Media Out of Your Life
Staying off social media will greatly improve your feeling. But if you can't avoid using it due to work or other reasons, you should think of it as a separate dimension from your life.
What you see on social media is not the true standard of your life that you need to achieve. You have your own life, they have theirs. You don't have to prove yourself to anybody.
Give yourself a break. Taking care of your well-being should be your first priority. If you can be kind to others, why not to yourself?
9. Shift Your Mindset
After doing all the above, you might already realize that the state of being stuck is all in your head. It's you who create these thoughts and it's you who can change them. You have the power to change your beliefs and reframe your mindset.
So to wrap your effort of being unstuck, change your mindset. Let go. Instead of thinking about how you can't do anything, think about all the possibilities that you can do.
If you can't move trying to go in one direction, find other possible courses. If you can't find what you're looking for in one place, search somewhere else. Get out of your comfort zone.
There are always possibilities. You just need to want to see them.
What to Do After You're Unstuck?
Congratulations! You’ve unstuck your life. You've broken the status quo. Now what?
The next logical step that you could do is to prevent yourself from ever being stuck in life and career again in the future. Think long term.
This requires goal setting, good planning and preparation, and commitment in executing the plan. We have written an extensive guide on how to do this, along with the actionable steps that you can follow to go from zero to hero and achieve your life goals.
The guide is built around the idea of creating your ideal career path, but you can also use it to plan your roadmap to pursue your life goal. It's like hiring a life coach but without having to spend money on it.
Dedicate a couple of hours to find out what you want with the life that fits you and your life's values. Then set your objectives, create the paths, and learn the skills needed to go there. Finally, begin your journey to get there. Set your schedule and commit to doing what it takes to achieve your goals and living your dreams.
You can't go wrong investing in yourself. The rewards will be invaluable.
You can hire one of those professional career coaches, but you can also use our self-led career strategizer as a shortcut.
Being stuck in life is not fun. Now that you're out of the trap, plan your future well so you will never get back to the situation.