We have something to tell you, and though it’s not going to be easy to hear, we have a feeling that you already know what we’re going to say. Okay, here it goes. Don’t hate us:
Phew! Now that that’s off our chest, let us explain how we know.
Well, first of all you clicked on this article and, the title alone should give you some indication of the way that you’re generally feeling about your current lifestyle.
Second - nearly everyone feels stuck in their lives in some way at one point or another, so there’s a good chance you’re a part of the majority in this case. Whether that pertains to your job, your relationships, your location or your life in general, something’s not sitting quite right with you. As the days drag on and your routine stays pretty much the same, you find yourself asking a terrifying question:
“Is this it?”
To which we would answer:
“It doesn’t have to be.”
Living in your stuckness.
Life is way too short for you to be living it in any way that doesn’t match up to your goals. As kids, our dreams are encouraged to be larger than life. Want to be an astronaut? You can be an astronaut! Want to be a zookeeper? You can be a zookeeper! Want to be a police officer, politician, teacher, or professional dog walker? You can be! But somewhere along the way, that optimism fades and the big, bold ideas get replaced with the reality that we’ll settle for a lot less in order to support ourselves financially. Trading in your dreams for pure dollars doesn’t add up to progress, it just adds up to a lot more of the same old “stuck” feeling.
The problem with the traditional mentality of “growing up” by seeking out more lucrative lifestyles instead of searching for purpose is that 1) it sucks 2) it holds us back from doing the things that we really want to do and 3) it doesn’t have to be this way.
More than anything, this outlook can leave us feeling numb to the world around us and overall uninspired. Since we can’t see a way to change our own lives, or to make a meaningful impact with the talents that we possess, we start to develop a mindset of doubt, indifference and even pessimism. We lose the capacity to see our own potential.
We may stop noticing the other things that bring us joy and meaning . An incredible meal surrounded by friends and family doesn’t fill our hearts the way it used to. Music doesn’t envelop us in its magic anymore. The way the sun rises starts to feel routine, instead of beautiful and uplifting.
A life that is that uninspired leads to apathy, boredom, and the dreaded state of feeling stuck.
The feeling of being unable to progress is especially dangerous once comparison’s talons take hold. Not being able to do anything to make a change (or at least believing that there’s nothing interesting that you can do) is at the root of comparison culture.
Think about the way that you spend your free time when you’re feeling “bored”. Like so many other members of a tech-savvy generation, you’re probably spending it on social media. Aren’t you tired of comparing yourself to other people? Aren’t you weary of consuming stories about inspiring people making waves around the world that in turn make you feel like you’re not doing enough? Are you asking yourself questions like: Why isn’t my life filled with purpose? Why don’t I feel fulfilled? What am I accomplishing?
It’s difficult to ask yourselves these questions when it seems like every person on the internet is scaling mountains, starting successful businesses, and helping others through meaningful work.
So why exactly are you feeling stuck?
Maybe it’s because of your extreme level of comfortability within your current lifestyle. Has your routine become the ruler? Do you feel like it’s impossible to break free from it’s grasp at this stage of the game? You get up, workout, power through your 45-minute commute to work, knock out your to-do list, head to happy hour, then go to bed. Despite feeling stifled, uncreative, bored, and stuck… you feel bound to your current state in an indescribable way. It’s worked thus far. It’s status quo. Even thinking about changing it feels terrifying.
Get ready to face your fears.
Nothing worth having is simple or painless. Breaking out of a cycle of stuck is going to take some work. But here’s a big, bold idea you may have forgotten: you have the potential to make a change at any moment. You can choose to propel yourself out of your static state and into a world of your own creation.
Not Your Average Mid-Life Crisis
News flash! You’re not alone. You’re not the only one who is feeling bored, uninspired, or stuck in their own life. This isn’t a mid-life crisis - this is a wake-up call. A very necessary one that can come at any stage in your life.
If you’re in your 20s:
This is the time in your life where you are supposed to be experiencing the most freedom. You have a job that you’ve been working at since you graduated from university, doing the things that you love and yet…
You don’t feel complete. There’s just something missing from this life - it’s not what you thought it was going to be. You see people that you know traveling the world, following their unconventional dreams and you wonder why you thought it would be the best idea to take the “safe route”. After a few years working in a job that supposedly fits your passions perfectly, or maybe a few different jobs (that’s okay too), you’re wondering if they were ever really your passions after all.
You need to get out of your own head - the answer to what you’re missing is right in front of you.
You’re just looking for more. variety. You want to live your life to its absolute fullest as you search for your own answer to “What is it all about?” Experiences like studying abroad or participating in a mission trip may have left you with a sense that there’s more to life than conventional thought may be telling you. There is.
If you’re in your 30s
Congrats! You’ve probably already sorted out some of life’s big questions, and you at least know yourself (and what you want) better than you did at 22. No? That’s okay too.
Life’s starting to feel a little more serious these days. You have friends who are getting married and even starting families. They’re buying houses in the suburbs and investing in new SUVs so that they can transport their kids to soccer practice and dance recitals. It seems like everyone you know is leveling up in the Game of Life (see what we did there?) - and you’re stuck in limbo.
With every day feeling more predictable than the last, you’re certain that you’re missing out on something that everyone else just seems to understand. If you don’t “get it” soon, will you ever be able to progress?
Those are some heavy thoughts. Allow us to lighten the mood.
Of course you will be able to take the next step in your life! The best part is, it doesn’t have to be on the same path that everyone else is following. You have complete and total control over where you go next, the power to make the choices that will make you happy and light you up day after day. This isn’t “it” for you - you just have to decide to make your next move.
If you’re in your 40s
As a successful professional, you should feel completely content with your life. You’ve moved up the ladder a number of times or have started your own business, you’re able to support your family (or your weekly book habit!) and you even have a vacation planned in the upcoming months. By all intents and purposes, you’ve it made.
But it doesn’t feel like it.
You are being held in what we like to call the “golden handcuffs”. Your company might have a good reputation, you’re making good money, but, well, your job’s a little too easy. You don’t feel challenged in the ways that you used to because you understand your role so completely that nothing surprises you. You feel like all you’re doing is showing up to work and collecting a paycheck.
You’re in a position that so many people would love to be in. You shouldn’t want to make a change, but you can’t get rid of that inner voice that’s telling you you need to search for something new.
Want our advice? Listen to it.
You deserve to feel fulfilled, to feel like the fire inside you is burning brightly everyday because of the work that you’re doing. A good salary shouldn’t be enough to make you stay where you are. You might be able to solve this stagnation by seeking out new opportunities within your current company - or branching out and pursuing something that you've put on the backburner for too long. If you wait for one more year, that’s one more year in which you could have been living your best life. Do you want to give that up?
If you’re in your 50s
After years of working and preparing for retirement, the moment is finally here. You’ve packed up your desk and are heading home to a life of… what?
Who would have thought that this much freedom might be suffocating? If you can do anything that you want at any time of the day - what do you do?
You could focus on that golf game of yours or join a book club, or even spend days catching up on the episodes of Grey’s Anatomy that you’d missed while you were working (we don’t judge), but none of those activities come with the same type of purpose that you felt when you were working full-time. Without being held to deadlines, you can fall into a life without structures or goals and, perhaps for the first time, feel truly bored.
But, like we said earlier, it doesn’t have to be this way. Your life isn’t complete just because you’ve finished working. In fact, you should see it as an incredible accomplishment, congratulate yourself, then search for your next big challenge. Do you want to see the world? Many people save to travel during retirement - now is your chance! A work and travel program could be a perfect opportunity to travel and become a part of a community of like-valued people who you would have never met otherwise. Do you want to write a book? With the skills that you’ve earned through years of professional development, now is the perfect time to take the leap.
You don’t have to be held back by any of these generational roadblocks. You don’t have to be stuck. This isn’t all that the world has to offer you. No matter your age, you hold the potential to create a life that you were meant to live, full of purpose and vitality. If you’re ready to embrace the possibilities, there is an entire world waiting for you to explore it. You just have to take the leap.