5 Signs You Are Stuck – And What You Can Do About It

Published on June 28, 2022

At some point in your life, you’ve probably felt stuck. You might be relatively new to adulting, starting your own business, or seen numerous boom-to-bust cycles as a millennial impacted by the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

I define stuck as being at odds with your desired life circumstances. You don’t live up to your expectations for yourself—whether that means in your career, love life, finances, health, or another area of your life. I’m not talking about having a bad day, week, or month where nothing goes right. Though major and minor setbacks are difficult in the moment, those short-term situations will pass and likely not derail you permanently.

On the contrary, I focus on when stuckness becomes a chronic state of being. You’ve been living with it for a while, and even when you try to shake it, that feeling of being trapped comes back like a boomerang. Furthermore, you might not be able to identify the cause specifically, and you certainly don’t know how to address it.

Here are 5 signs you might be stuck:

1. You’re wading through quicksand.

You want to take a step forward or make a change at work or at home but feel mired in place. You aren’t really moving anywhere except downward into a spiral of more sand—and there isn’t a spunky protagonist waiting to pull you out or a conveniently placed tree branch for you to grab. Thus, you’re sinking down, down, down, and resisting just makes it worse.

2. No matter what you do, it feels useless.

Whatever actions you take feel ineffective. It feels like you’re doomed to repeat mistakes and missteps. You can relate to the tragic figure of Sisyphus from Greek mythology, cursed for eternity to roll a huge boulder up a hill only to have it come rebounding backward when he approaches the top. It’s a never-ending Groundhog Day of yuck, without the comedic relief.

3. You feel that you’re out of options.

You simply don’t know what to do next in growing your start-up or established business, and it’s terrifying. Making a single decision feels like it could have disastrous results on your bottom-line or work culture. You feel helpless.

4. You experience constant disappointment.

A cloud of disappointment is always hovering overhead. The big investor you dreamed about partnering with rejected you. That new product launch you were excited about bombed. It’s hard to score a good date, much less have a healthy relationship. Nothing quite happens the way you want it to. Even when things go as planned, they don’t provide the fulfillment you desire.

5. You’re incapacitated by stress.

In this state, your stress levels are so high that it feels paralyzing. Anxiety is your constant companion. The stress is taking a toll on your wellness. You can’t sleep. It’s hard to concentrate. With your stomach tied in knots, your appetite disappears, or you overeat everything in sight. There may be a constant temptation to slip into bad habbits such as self-medicating or overeating—all because you feel so overwhelmed and are desperately seeking a break.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, then it is time to understand what kind of specific stuckness you face. From my research, I have identified seven patterns – ways of thinking and being – that hold people back time and time again. Take this free quiz to identify where you stand and what to do about it.

Meanwhile, here are a few steps you can take to get yourself unstuck:

  • Take a pause. Today there’s a lot of pressure to be constantly on the go, which can create an overwhelming amount of mental clutter. That is why it’s important to take a strategic pause, which I define as any deliberate shift in your behavior to gain more insights. When you get still and calm, even for an hour or two, a sense of openness unfolds, and you can better identify the things in your life that you want to change.
  • Focus on your purpose. Your purpose in life is your reason for being. Everyone has one, whether they know what it is or not. Your purpose is your “why,” and when you find it, living in alignment with your purpose fills you with a sense of rightness. The best way to discover yours is to focus on your values, motivation, and belief system.
  • Practice forgiveness. Like patience, forgiveness is a virtue. However, that doesn’t mean it comes naturally for many of us. Being wronged in some way, intentionally or not, can get you stuck in a negative place if you’re unable or unwilling to work through those feelings. And sometimes, the hardest person to forgive is yourself, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
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Shira Miller, CPCC, is the author of Free and Clear: Get Unstuck and Live the Life You Want, which features a step-by-step process for getting unstuck and staying that way for good. A two-time TEDx speaker, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and Chief Communications Officer of a $2 billion corporation, she knows a lot about getting unstuck – and teaching people how to do the same for themselves. Shira has transitioned from financial ruin to prosperity, chronic health challenges to a constant state of wellness, obesity to sustaining a healthy weight, divorce to lasting love, and an unfulfilling career to a purpose-driven life. She has written over 100 articles on Medium, LinkedIn and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global platform about well-being at work and home, prioritizing self-care and creating wellness-based cultures. Shira’s story and opinions have been recognized in Shape, Health, First for Women, Quick & Simple, the Atlanta Journal – Constitution and Emory Magazine. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her super cool husband. Visit shiramiller.com to learn more.

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