This post is part of a series by Shannon Kaiser called Live Your Life — a primer on finding your passion and living with purpose. Each day this week, we'll post one article, with the intention of providing the foundational elements you need to go deeper in the search for your life's true meaning. When you're ready to take the next step, check out Shannon's course: Get Unstuck: How To Find Your Calling & Live A Life With More Meaning.

Several years ago, my doctor diagnosed me with clinical depression. At the time, I was miserable in my job, suffering from multiple eating disorders and also addicted to drugs. The depression, and those other self-sabotaging patterns stemmed from a sense of being trapped. I was stuck somewhere I didn't want to be, and I didn’t know how to break free. I was trying to mask my fear and pain with addiction and self-sabotage.

I had the sinking sensation that the corporate cubicle lifestyle I'd worked so hard to achieve was was not my life purpose.

That’s the thing about most major life choices: We don’t know how they will fit until we try them out. I thought I wanted that life. I participated fully in every moment to create that reality. But once I achieved it, I felt numb, hollow, and uninspired.

Many of us stay in situations long past their expiration dates or settle into experiences that don’t soothe our souls because we are reluctant to experience discomfort. In those moments, we’re thinking with our heads instead of our hearts.

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We fear that the choice we make could set us back or send our life off course. When it comes to making a decision, many of us are so focused on the worst-case scenario that we become paralyzed. Only once you feel the fear and do it anyway can you really recognize the power of your inner guide. Feeling stuck is always an opportunity to realign and refocus. Here are 10 signs you might be stuck, and how to resolve each one.

1. You don't know what you want.

Most of us feel stuck because we focus on what isn’t going well, leaving little room to focus on what do we want.

What to do:

Instead of focusing on what isn’t working, focus on finding answers. Repeat the mantra “I am willing to live my life in new ways,” and you will start to shift your focus to new opportunities that will give you more clarity. We actually always know what we want, but we have to dig a little for it sometimes. Recall the moments in childhood that you felt pure joy. What were you doing? Who were you with? Allow yourself to get clues from these happy moments.

2. You have different values than those around you.

What once made you happy might have shifted. Just before I left advertising, I found it really hard to relate to my coworkers. My values had shifted, and I no longer cared about advertising for our clients. It was difficult for me to make it through the day without feeling like a fraud.

What to do:

Recognize that you have desires, goals, and beliefs that are important to you. Your values matter and when they shift, it is because something inside of you has awakened and is ready to experience more. Instead of feeling like something is wrong, embrace your new set of values and start seeking out new people and places that support them.

3. You don't find joy where you used to find it.

You may feel like something is wrong because what use to bring you joy no longer makes your heart sing. If you feel stuck, it could be because you are focused on what you think you “should” do instead of what you really, truly want to do.

What to do:

Instead of focusing on what you should do, give yourself permission to do what you want to do. This may mean saying no to people or obligations that once made sense for you. The more you prioritize you own needs, the easier your life will be and the less stuck you will feel.

4. You feel numb, or sense a lack of meaningful connection.

When I was suffering from depression, I felt numb to life and constantly wondered “What's the point? Is this really all there is?” Focusing on a sense of meaninglessness only exacerbated my hopelessness.

What to do:

Create a list of things that bring you joy. Make more time for these things, and your happiness will grow.

5. You feel mentally and physically drained.

This is sometimes a result of putting your energy into thinking about the negative. Maybe you don’t like your job but don’t know what you want to do with your life. Maybe you used to love your current partner but no longer feel that connection. If you feel exhausted from just living, you are probably stuck.

What to do:

Focus on your purpose and passion. If you feel drained, you probably haven't been giving enough time or energy to your passions. You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t have time to do what I love because I'm so tired,” but prioritizing what you love will help you get more energy.

We get a natural endorphin fix from doing what we love, so when you prioritize your passions, you get more energy and clarity. (For more on figuring out what you love, see number eight.)

6. Things that used to bring you joy feel restrictive.

We are always growing and changing. Sometimes we hold on to old habits because they're comfortable. You may be grasping an old habit, job, or relationship out of fear of the unknown.

What to do:

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you want to grow, you have to allow yourself to be uncomfortable; all growth requires discomfort, but it is worth it. Start to go out of your comfort zone consciously. It could be as simple as ordering a new type of food at a restaurant you regularly visit or booking a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, without a set plan when you arrive.

7. You don't feel valued or understood.

Wanting support from loved ones and those closest to you is important. You may feel stuck because that support is missing.

What to do:

Instead of allowing outside influences to determine your focus, focus forward on supporting and believing in yourself.

8. You compare yourself to others, and envy their happiness.

When you're stuck, it’s easy to compare yourself to others, and start to think everyone else is happier and more together than you.

What to do:

Recognize that is your ego — your fear-based mind — that wants you to feel less than. Instead of focusing on other people, ask yourself what brings you joy and follow the joy to happiness. Commit to your joy.

9. You dread waking up.

It can be hard to wake up in the morning in general, but the dread hits a new level when you feel like you don’t have a purpose or focus.

What to do:

Upon waking up, before your feet even hit the ground, run through three to five things you are thankful for. When we appreciate what we have, we can start our day with a gracious, grounded focus.

10. You can't make decisions.

Indecisiveness comes from lack of clarity. If you feel like you can’t make a choice or move forward because you are unsure of the outcome, it could be preventing you from being happy.

What to do:

Imagine yourself down each of the roads you're facing, and choose the one that makes you feel most joyful and at peace. When you align your choices with love and joy, you will always make the right choice.

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