I think there’s a point in every young-ish adults life where they realize something critical. We look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that where we are right now, is not where we thought we’d be 5 years ago.
For some of us this is an encouraging realization. Maybe you didn’t expect to be making as much money or to be married with children or owning your own business. If that’s you then congratulations! Keep moving forward in that direction, we need movers and shakers like you in this world. For others of us tho, this realization comes with some sadness and perhaps some anxiety. Maybe you’d hoped that by now you’d be living on your own, maybe you thought you’d be rid of credit card and school debt, maybe you thought you’d be working your dream job or maybe you thought that you’d at least be in a relationship if not married. I’m writing right now to encourage those of you who fall into the second category, myself included.
I was reflecting on my life a little while ago, looking at where I am and where I’d like to be next, at one point I remembered a dream I had as a younger teen. I dreamt of spending my young adult days living and working in the city, New York city to be exact. I imagined myself in pencil skirts, blazers and thin heels walking confidently to appointments. My appointments with my clients. I was a business woman . I dreamt of apartments where I could see the skyline and falling asleep to the sounds of traffic and other ambient city noises. I dreamt of nights filled with excitement and girlfriends and hailing taxis in sequined skirts. I looked around at my current surroundings and saw things that disappointed me. I was still sharing a home with my mother because I can’t yet live on my own (even though I love her, and rent free is great…financial independence is pretty great too). I was still struggling with school loans and debt occurred during college. I was working really hard in a job I love, but making just enough money to cover my bills and in order to do more than just survive would soon be starting a second job. Needless to say, this is not the life 17-year-old Nicole dreamt of. Nowhere close. Maybe that’s you. Maybe you thought that at this point in your life you’d be married with children but you’ve been single for years with no prospects in sight. Maybe you wanted to own your own business, or travel the world or make a profit of off your creative talents, but it hasn’t happened and like I did, you feel a little stuck. It’s easy to feel stuck when everyone around you seems to be moving at a faster pace, it can even prompt the question “will I ever be unstuck?”
Whatever your personal situation might be, I want to offer you some encouragement and some tips to help you start feeling unstuck. As I encourage you, I encourage myself. I have taken some pretty basic steps to get myself out of the mindset of feeling stuck and it has worked tremendously. These are definitely things you’ve heard before, but sometimes all it takes is a reminder to give us the boost that we need.
Get Unstuck 101:
- Stop the Comparison, Instead Celebrate – Something that ALWAYS manages to make me feel like I’m behind the curve is when I look at other people who are younger than me or my age and have taken off in their careers, have families, have large homes or who go on vacations every other month and compare myself to them. So I’ve changed my perspective. I celebrate them. Celebrate these people and their successes because yes, it’s wonderful, but also because it makes your energy less hostile and envious. I’ve learned over the years that there is no need to be envious of the way someone lives their lives because EVERYONE struggles. Their struggle just looks different from yours but doesn’t make it any less valid. So instead of investing your time an energy into being envious and wishing their life was yours, celebrate their wins. This is even more important when the person you’re tempted to compare yourself to is a friend, they need you to support them and uplift them, not be jealous of them. I’ve had friends who struggled tremendously with this area of their lives, and because they knew their weakness they decided to limit or remove social media entirely so that they can focus more on uplifting others instead of comparing themselves. Extreme, maybe, effective? Yes. Yours? That’s for you to decide.
- Set Personal Goals and Track Them – You want to move forward. You want to be in charge of your finances. You want to own a business. You want to travel the world. You want to build your brand. You want to move out. Well, unfortunately, wanting to do something passionately means very, very little if anything at all. You need to create an action plan. What do you want to achieve? When do you want to achieve it by (be realistic….don’t tell yourself to lose 30lbs in a week….it won’t work)? Now, what steps (baby steps at first) do you need to take to ensure that you are thinking about this and working on this every week. For myself, I would love to be more in control of my finances, but I am lazy and would rather buy food for lunch than cook at home. So, my action plan would consist of me meal prepping consistently and maybe even leaving my debit card at home during the week and replacing it with cash that I’ve allowed for stupid spending. “But Nicole, aren’t you trying to prevent stupid spending?” Well, yes. But because I know myself, I know I’m more likely to stick to my goals if I allow 10-20 dollars of freedom. Tracking these goals are important because they provide accountability and gives you a visual on how you are doing. If you’re doing well, celebrate yourself (super important). If you’re not doing so hot, there’s your motivation to pick it up a notch.
- Find a Buddy – Buddies are really great assets during these building stages for a few reasons. 1) They hold you accountable. I am less likely to be dumb with my finances or eating habits when I have someone watching me or asking me about my decisions. Do I get frustrated? Yea, does it help? Yes again. 2) They can cheer you on. Encouragement is crucial when you’re building something (building a brand, wealth, positive habits…anything). You will have days where you doubt yourself. You will have days where you are tired and would rather just give up than stress yourself out thinking about budgets and planning. You will have days where you compare yourself to others and think that you’ll never be able to reach your goals or wonder why you have to work so hard for them. Buddies help get you out of that mindset and refocus you. It helps when your buddy is someone working on a similar goal to yours because that way you keep each other positive. It’s good to remember tho that even though you are sharing your struggles, you shouldn’t be expecting your buddy to pick you up off of the ground every day…that gets tiring…be kind to them. 3) They can provide a much-needed distraction. I have a tendency to get super work focused sometimes…like I can spend hours planning, writing, researching and building without coming up for air. I really want what I’m building to succeed. A buddy helps you snap out of it. It’s healthy to take breaks and not work for periods of time and even though you may be resistant to their pushing, listen to them. They’re trying to help.
The difference between stuck and unstuck is simply a mindset. As I look around me, I know my situation hasn’t actually shifted and changed. But I no longer feel stuck because instead of looking around at my surroundings feeling sorry for myself, I look around knowing that I am actively working on the unstuck.
I don’t want to end this post without doing something important tho, I want to remind you that there is value in the stuck stage. The value comes from knowing it won’t last, and knowing that helps to give you the exact tools you need to get out of it. You’re about to become an expert on endurance, perseverance and resilience and quite frankly, you wouldn’t have developed those power tools if you didn’t have the drive to get unstuck, which only came from being…stuck. There’s value to each struggle stage of life…and we only half succeed if we move on to the next stage without acknowledging the purpose of the previous.
We’re in this together and I believe that one day we’re going to look back at this time in our lives where we felt stuck and smile at how little we knew about how capable we actually were. I want to see you achieve your goals, and when we both get there lets remember these stages and help those who are where we are right now.
Wishing you the best of luck on your journey to getting unstuck!