Read Time: 13 mins
Have you ever felt stuck? Unable to move towards you goal? Of course, you have. It happens all the time and in respect of all aspects of our lives. There are things you can start doing today, simple little actions or even thoughts, that can help you to get unstuck.
The list below of actions you can start with is actually pretty simple. But before you start on any of them you must make a much more difficult change. You need to step back from pursuing your goal. and do something a bit unusual.
Stop from aiming directly at your goal being your central priority. Whatever part of your life you are trying to change, you should not focus on it exclusively, or even primarily.
This seems a bit of an unusual request. But aiming directly at your goal is what you have been doing. And progress has not been happening.
Rather than keep on putting all your energies into that one area you need to step back and see if you have built the supports in other parts of your life to make progress happen.
If you have not, then you are not preparing to succeed. So step back, build the foundation and then go for it. Start with these 10 areas.
And make yourself a promise this very minute. By this time tomorrow you will have made some progress on every one of these actions. Even if that progress is simply thinking about what you might be able to do, that’s a start from where to build.
Start to Do This Today
1. Take Time Out and Think
Thinking has become something of an anachronism for some people. We are constantly told that the key to success is to do, to get up and get going, and so on. In as far as thinking is allowed, it is to be related to planning. Always to be taking action.
We forget that some of the greatest minds made the most progress not by doing, but by not doing. By sitting and thinking, by not acting, by daydreaming, even by being idle.
Take time alone. This does not mean ruminating over what has been or what should be. Focused thinking clarifies your objective. What is it you really want? In its deepest essence? Is that even possible, or desirable? How might you go about planning to get there?
Be sure you are clear about what you want to achieve. Then, when you are clear, tell someone about it. If you find you can’t it to someone, you have not really defined what it is you want. If you can’t answer their ‘why?’ questions don’t even try to find answers to the ‘how?’ questions. Make thinking an integral part of your life.
“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” ― John Locke
2. Start Reading a Book
We tend to prioritise entertainment over education. Books allow you to combine the two and, if anything, steer us towards education. There are many other sources of entertainment around and there is no need to avoid them.
But you must put down the phone, stop wondering what’s happening now on social media or whatever, and address the FOMO in your life. Choose an electronic book or a physical old style one. Choose a topic you are interested in.
It doesn’t have to be a heavy text – novels are among the best ways to learn about how society works and how people act. It’s great if it’s related in some way to your goal; perhaps it’s about someone else who has been successful. The important point is that reading a book will transmit you a different place and engage you in a way like nothing else.
“You cannot open a book without learning something.” ― Confucius
3. Be Objective about What You Have Now
You have been very lucky in your life. You are living through the best time in the long history of humanity to be alive. You can read, you can take the time to plan your life and you have opportunities to make your life what you want it to be that were not there for previous generations. They were not even there a couple of decades ago. You have most, if not all, of the basic requirements of life already in place. Almost certainly you have others around you who want what’s good for you.
Do you genuinely appreciate this? If not, and if you are not deeply grateful for all this, then stop immediately and learn to appreciate how lucky you are. You live in a world where you are far more likely to overeat than starve, where you have a greater chance of living a longer life than any generation in the past, and where the chances of you being adversely affected by war or violence are lower than ever.
Make a list of what you have going for you. Start with the world around you. Only then go on to your own personal traits, talents and characteristics. Don’t be afraid to include what some might think of as weaknesses. Therein may lie the real opportunities.
Not that you would think this if you listen to the noisiest people who seem always to be able to find platforms to spread fear and find enemies to justify their positions. Educate yourself to see through the false fears. Do not let your thinking be clouded by what you do not have. That is just desire. It is not need. Recognise what you have been given and promise yourself that you will not the one that will waste this precious opportunity.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus
4. Meditate and Visualise what You Want
It’s hard not to get caught up in the clamour and noise around us and within us. This is not something new, it is not a unique feature of the modern world. It is a feature of the world in which we live, just as it has always been at all times.
It is a weakness of the human condition that this noise distracts us, constantly. Learn to shut it out. Do you know what it is to meditate? To focus in on who you are, what your position in the world is. Do you know how to quiet your mind from the noise of what was in the past, or what your imagination tells you will be in the future?
If you do, then great. Be sure to make time in your day to meditate today. If not, start to find out what it is about. If you have prejudices against this hippy-dippy carry-on, suspend you judgement for a while today. What makes you so all-knowing anyway? Be humble. Have a look at what meditation means. You will be surprised.
When you have quietened your mind from the distractions. Start to visualise what it is you want. Don’t begin with rational thought about how to get it, that can come later. Make the space in your life. After all, if your life is so busy that you can’t make 10 minutes to quiet your mind then how can you hope to make space for your goals to become part of your life?
“Ignorance might be bliss. But self-forgetfulness is pure ecstasy.” ― Kamand Kojouri
5. Get Moving, Get fit
The interaction of the mind and the body has long been underestimated. Of course, every genius has not been an outstanding athlete and great athletes are seldom intellectual heavyweights. But that misses the point.
You are not trying to be the greatest. You are trying to improve your life. It’s not enough to define your goals in isolation. They must be defined as progress from where you are now. Then, moving towards them becomes the very opposite of being stuck.
Your goal may well be to improve your health, your fitness, to run a marathon or to lose weight. Then it’s obvious you need to exercise. But even if this is not the case, getting fit will have positive impacts on your life. Cut down on the harmful activities that you know are wasting your time and energy. That, in itself, is an immediate win.
Exercise will give you more energy and more focus. And you will definitely feel better about yourself. You do not need to start big. Start small. You will quickly see the benefits as I discuss in this article. Now use that achievement to propel you towards your goals.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
6. Spend Time with Someone Positive
You will have no problem finding negative people. Even if you don’t look they will find you. And even if you are strong enough not to be influenced by their negativity, it may not be enough. You will experience difficulties and will need active, positive support.
Families and existing friends are great, but usually not enough. They have a role to play, but they are essential parts of your existing life. They will be part of the life you desire, but they are not necessarily the key supports you will need to create that life.
Do you know someone, either personally or even vaguely through reading something they have written on the internet, that you have found inspiring? Someone who has faced up to life and made it what they wanted it to be? We’re not talking about heroes here. We’re talking about ordinary people from whom you can learn.
You will need to build a network around you. Great if these are people with whom you can interact on a personal basis. But start with a small step. Can you think of anyone whose lead you would wish to follow? Adopt them. There’s no need to contact them if their writings are public, although you certainly can do so if you wish.
Learn about them. What is their approach to life. How much of their experience would you wish to use? Eventually choose one. That will be your first mentor. Over time try to make contact with a mentor or with your peers who are moving on a similar track to yourself. But for today, just stop and think and look for someone from whom you can learn.
“A negative outlook is dangerous. When you say, “It can’t get any worse!” You’re essentially challenging the universe to do exactly that.” ― Kamand Kojouri
7. Be Polite to People
There’s not a lot to say. Everyone is an individual as you are with their own dreams, plans, needs wants, challenges and weaknesses. It’s about the oldest of sayings, but no less relevant: treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
I’m not saying you will be treated well or that you will be rewarded for being polite. But that is not the point. Do it because it is the right thing to do. Full stop. Now, who will you be polite to today?
“Talk to strangers politely… Every friend you have now was once a stranger, although not every stranger becomes a friend.” ― Israelmore Ayivor, The Great Hand Book of Quotes
8. Give and Take
Personal relationship must never be a one-way street. You must always look to give as well as take from any relationship, no matter how casual. It’s the same with your network. St. Francis of Assisi wrote that ‘it is in giving that we receive’. There’s a lot of truth there.
But don’t approach the act of giving as a strategic move in order to receive in response. Give, because that is who you are. And the most precious thing you can give is your time and your wisdom.
You think you don’t have sufficient wisdom? Unlikely. You have experience, you have wishes. You are considering how to get from here to where you want to be. That’s wisdom.
At the very least you have information that you can share. Remember that information is one of the few things that you can share and afterwards both you and whomever you share with will almost certainly have more information than when you started. So, who can you help today?
And take it a step further. You will start by seeking a mentor. Why not also, very soon, see if you too can be a mentor. It just means sharing your information with another while trying also to build a slightly more formal personal relationship. It’s not quite peer to peer, but neither is mentoring a case of teacher and student.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
9. Let the Past be the Past
The past does not exist. It is over. There’s nothing you can do about it other than learn from it. And once you have reviewed what has happened, ideally soon after, and have seen what there is to learn, you must move on.
Teammates said of Johnny Unitas, one of the most successful NFL quarterbacks of the 1960s, that his demeanour never changed whether the last play had resulted in a score or a turnover. His focus was totally on the next play as that was the only one he could do anything about.
Don’t carry the baggage of the past. Not only is its only reality as a part of your memory, the chances are your memory is not what actually happened. We do not perceive things objectively, we form subjective biased and unreliable memories. Much of what we remember never actually happened or, at best, happened in a way other than what we recall. Chances are others have a different memory of the same event.
There is no reason to overly extrapolate from the past. Sure, things have not worked out as you planned to date. Why is that? What can you do about it? Are your expectations realistic? These are useful questions.
Arguing to yourself that you cannot achieve something because you failed in the past or that you were wronged in the past and need to get even are ways in which you are sabotaging your future. Leave the past where it belong – in the past.
“I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” ― Abraham Lincoln
10. Do Something Every Day
Start today. You can do all of these things today. And finally, you need to make a commitment. You will continue to do all, or most, of them tomorrow and every day. Make some progress each day. If not, you will stop. And then you will be stuck again.
Always keep going. You don’t need big wins. You don’t need more busyness in your life. But you do need consistent small wins. And, above all, you need to commit to keep going. Build a little momentum. It is surprising how a small success will give you the impetus to go for the next small step.
But it’s when you hit a wall, what appears to be an insurmountable challenge, that you need to draw on this promise to yourself. You will not look back on every day and see it as a success. Far from it. But keep going. Your commitment is to keep trying every day.
“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” ― Winston Churchill
It’s actually very easy to start to do any, or all, of these things today. It’s certainly a lot easier than being told to ‘work towards making your dreams become real’. What does that mean?
The fact is that it is easy to make progress and become unstuck once to start to do simple things. There’s no secret. But you must be clear about what you want, make place for it in your life, and work hard towards it every day. Find help from others around you and make yourself useful to others. And look after your emotional, mental and physical health.
Don’t be afraid to make changes. If you want to make a real change in your life then you need to do things differently. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn says, “If you keep living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have”.
It won’t happen immediately. Roy Bennett put it well when he wrote: “Never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning.”
Commit to the long haul. And this is where things become a little more difficult. You are going to falter. Your network can help you at those times, but the real strength will come from within yourself.
Do you have a personal ‘philosophy of life’ a code for living, something to which you can refer for guidance to pull you through? There are many you can draw from.
Learn about the great schools of thought. All are legitimate. What appeals to you? Don’t blunder from one fad to another. Can you use the great thinkers of the past to help you to develop your own code for living?
For me, it is stoicism. I’m not going to go into it here but if you are interested, I have written a short personal introduction on Stoicism and the Art of Living.
It’s a good place to start, today.
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” ― Seneca
Amy is a personal trainer and life coach who takes a holistic approach to personal development. To reach your potential you need to work on developing and maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind, together. Her writing covers exercise, mental health, life skills and nutrition. As a hands-on practitioner, Amy emphasises the importance of developing and applying practical customised programs to help clients achieve their goals. See more at www.mindbodyness.com.