“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ~Michael Altshuler
When I was in college I was looking for a job that was less demanding in comparison to my current one. I wanted a job that didn’t require me to work holidays and weekends. I needed time to rest and do my homework since I had a full course load.
Then I found it and was hired for a job that met my specifications exactly. Although it required a few more hours of work a week it was fine because it was less stressful.
I actually liked the job. No more sitting in my car in the parking lot before my shift, reflecting on how much I didn’t want to go in and talking myself out of driving away. I finally had a job that I didn’t dread going to, at the time.
While it met all my desires when I first started, sometime after I graduated my infatuation with it faded.
It was a great job for what I needed then. But after certain factors in that equation no longer existed, it sucked.
It was wonderful as a part time job while I was in school. It was a breeze for me. I was even able to do some of my homework at work. I decided to go full time since my schooling was complete.
Some years after I realized I was stuck. My professional plans had changed in my mind but not in reality.
See, I never planned on staying at that job for too long. It was just something that worked perfectly for the situation I was in. But I wasn’t in that situation anymore, but I was still working there.
Even though I was stuck, generally it didn’t seem like a bad thing. My bills were paid, I was saving money and my job wasn’t running me ragged. That’s probably why I didn’t notice it sooner.
One day at work I was sitting in my cube when I experienced a random moment of consciousness. In that moment I became extremely aware of where I was compared to where I wanted to be or even where I thought I’d be by then. That’s when it really hit me, I wasn’t going anywhere.
I just sat there thinking “How did I get here?” “How did this become my only prospect for a career?” But I knew how I got there, and even if I didn’t, it really didn’t matter. I needed to focus on getting out.
After 7 years in the same position the only thing I had to celebrate were 3 weeks of vacation a year and a kitchen pan set I got for my fifth anniversary. It really was the only perk, the only thing I was happy about.
If that was my only goal I achieved it, but it wasn’t. Instead, I had wasted most of those years playing it safe.
After a while, I was comfortable where I was. Even though it was a dead end job I couldn’t motivate myself to do something about it. When I thought about getting another job I focused on the annoying parts of the process.
It seemed like all was lost. But as stagnant as I felt, I still had two choices, surrender like most of my colleagues have and accept this as my fate or take action against it.
Somewhere after graduation, I veered off course, I forgot that this was a transition job in my life. Adjusting to adulthood and all its daily responsibilities made me neglect the bigger picture.
I didn’t want to wake up one day and realize that I was depressed and unhappy. That most of my life had passed by and I had done nothing with it. That my dream of having a career I’d enjoy was still just a dream. So I chose action.
What to Do When Your Life Is Going Nowhere Fast
Here are 7 steps you can take to have your life move in a better and more meaningful direction:
1. Personal Time
You need time to yourself to sort out your thoughts. This is a good time to reflect on what is bothering you, what you want and figure out solutions to resolving your issues.
To be most effective this cannot be done during the commercial break of your favorite drama. Try to be one with your thoughts with as little distractions as possible.
I know you’re busy but you need to do this. You are just as important as your other tasks. So the same way you found a way to add them to your schedule, pencil yourself in.
2. Be Accountable
This was kind of big for me. I often didn’t share my goals or plans with others because I didn’t want people to remind me of my lack of progress. Just someone asking me how it was going with it would remind me that nothing was going on. It was kind of embarrassing.
I wasn’t embarrassed because I said I was going to do it and didn’t, I mean plans change. I felt that way because it made me realize how separated from myself I was. I was always the person who got things done. I loved that person but I didn’t feel like her anymore.
Not holding yourself accountable is one of the quickest ways to become stagnant. Remain connected with your goals and review your progress.
3. Construct a Time Frame
Now that you’re going to hold yourself to it, give yourself a deadline.
If you just say you’re going to complete a goal you have all the time in the world. You can put it off forever.
For each action, you need to establish a time frame. Designate when to start it and when you should complete it. This will also help when you’re creating an action plan. I’ll know exactly when to do each step.
It also helps reduce procrastination and maintain momentum.
4. Let Go of Fear
When you’re comfortably unhappy you reject change because you’re terrified of it. You’re used to things the way they are, even though you don’t like it. Fear is just another factor for stagnation.
Part of the reason I stayed at my job is because I was afraid of the level of success I desired. I know it sounds weird but I wanted to do something that wasn’t familiar to me. I mean I’ve been successful in the past but this was different. This was something that would impact my life for decades.
You just need to get over your fear of change and any fears related to your goals.
You know how I got over my fears? I just asked myself, what’s scarier, doing something you’ve never done or you`re afraid to do, or being in the exact same place you are today, 20 years from now? I think you know the answer to that one.
5. Change Your Mind
Your biggest obstacle is in your head.
Once you combat your fears, attack that little voice in your head that says you can’t do it.
While you were addressing your fears you may have had to change your perspective on a few things. You’ll need to continue to do that to succeed.
There are different ways to look at things, the positive and the negative. You need to stay positive in order to keep going. This is what keeps you motivated. If you think you can’t you won’t even bother trying.
When I did this, things got easier. It’s like I was open to all these new things.
6. Find a Mentor
Achievement of a goal and motivation can seem attainable when you realize that other people have been in your shoes.
The chance of you finding someone who was in the exact same situation and trying to achieve the same is unlikely. But you can find other commonalities in someone else’s story of triumph.
It was very helpful to me to know that other people overcame similar professional struggles to do what they love. Some even rose from worse circumstances, like being laid off.
If they can do it, so can you.
Go For It
Turn your dream into an action plan. Break it down into smaller steps that lead straight to the objective.
Continue to enforce the time line and hold yourself accountable. While keeping an eye on your progress, make any changes you deem necessary to make a difference.
Like with me, when I first sent out my resume I wasn’t getting any calls to set up an interview or even a screening. After a short while, I decided to revamp my resume.
Seeing as I already had one created it seemed like a tedious task but it got easier as I broke it down. I first learned about new resume formats, wording that was more descriptive and then what should be included and removed. After those tweaks, the phone started to ring.
Your life will be so much more satisfying when you get things moving. As you’re continuing with your action plan things will progress and you won’t feel like you’re going nowhere. You’ll be moving closer to your goals and farther away from stagnation.
Progress will heighten your sense of accomplishment and propel your confidence. And when you’re feeling good, life is good.
Have you ever felt stuck? What did you do to get back on track? You can share your comment by joining the conversation below 🙂