Signs You Need to Get Unstuck

I recently read this 13 Signs You Need to Get Unstuck article from RELEVANT Magazine and I hate to admit it, but it hit pretty close to home. The quarter-life period of life is a weird one — and often leaves people {myself included} feeling a bit unsure and stuck. I felt refreshed reading this list – and reminded just how easy it is to get “off course” in life. Here’s a few of my favorites…I hope they inspire you to take an honest look at your life and head back in the right direction if need be {that would make two of us!}.

1. You can’t remember the last time you used a phone for talking

Here’s a scary reality: Most of your good friends today will eventually move away—if you haven’t already moved away yourself. We live in a transient culture where jobs, relationships and fresh starts beckon us to other lands of opportunity.

The easy way to cope with your impending community break-up is to keep posting clever updates on Facebook, send the occasional text when you eat at your friends’ favorite dives and let the relationships drift.

To give your relationships a shove, talk to the people in your life. Plop down on some upholstery. Grab a favorite beverage. And ring them up. Drop the chit-chat (you don’t need it) and talk about what’s really going on. It’s not good enough to know that you could call someone and have a conversation whenever you want. You actually have to call. If time’s an issue, call when you’re driving or walking somewhere. Stop saying, “But they’re so far away.” Better yet, instead of waiting for them to come your way, plan your vacations around visiting old friends.

2. Everybody you know has the same grocery list

If your friends could swap out your fridge for theirs and you wouldn’t notice, it’s time to branch out. If you shop hippie-vegan, do you have white-bread-and-bologna friends? If you never worry about your checks bouncing, do you know someone who limits their grocery trips to the twenty-dollar bill they have in hand that week?

Meeting people who don’t look, talk, shop, think, act or pray like you takes guts and gumption. It’s even harder to actually build friendships with people who are different than you. But common ground can be found in strange places, if you’re willing to search for it.

Give yourself a shove by walking or biking through your neighborhood (or one that doesn’t look like yours) and stopping to greet people. Ride the bus and talk to your seatmate. Visit a prison, a retirement home or a multi-lingual church. Or take a risk even closer to home and invite someone you don’t know well yet over for dinner.

4. You have complained thrice in the past hour

There’s plenty in this life that’s not awesome. Traffic. Meddlesome parents. Canker sores. Lame co-workers—or worse, unemployment. Bad habits. Bad customer service. Bad breath. The “cursed animosity of inanimate objects,” as C.S. Lewis once said.

Yes, you need to do your part to improve a whole bunch of those things. After all, becoming the biochemist who finds a canker sore cure is a worthwhile ambition. But if you’re simmering in irritation all the time, you probably need a shove.

Make a list of what you’re thankful for—from Grape Nuts to indoor plumbing to Siri. You’ll likely find that cultivating gratitude for what is good helps you deal with what is not.

6. You’re freaked out

Ask yourself seriously: What are you afraid of? Likely it’s not a monster under the bed or a vampire in the basement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your life isn’t steered by fear. You might fear wasting time, standing out, disappointing your boss, wrecking your car, being normal, losing your phone, getting old, never having a spouse or kids, getting sued or running out of time before you’ve done something big enough. We wear (and hide) our fears tucked underneath everything else we do in life. Fears are like underwear—nobody sees ’em, but everybody’s got ’em.

Hidden or not, these fears are holding you back. So, slay your demons. Spend time in prayer about what fears control you, and ask God for help. Share your fears with one or two close friends. Then wait until nightfall, bring out a good light and a big stick, and take those fears out, once and for all.

7. Your standard response to, “How are you?” includes the word “busy”

Nobody ever asks to work a 73-hour week, but somehow it happens. Maybe the sun keeps getting a little lower in the sky by the time you get home from work each day. Or maybe what you thought were “leisure commitments”—fantasy football, crochet night, lacrosse club—have taken over any space for spontaneity in your calendar. If you checked “yes” to any of these, it’s time to introduce a new word to your vocabulary: “No.”

Most of us have a deeply ingrained tendency to fill whatever hours we have available—plus about three more hours we don’t have. If you set boundaries around some of your time and refuse to let work take it over, an amazing thing happens: The world goes on spinning.

Face it—you are expendable. And you’ll be a better contribution to the world if you de-frazzle yourself, drink a quart less coffee and get enough sleep.

Take a day and rest—listen to music, drop in on a friend, read a novel, make tacos, go sledding.

10. You’re working hard on your frown lines

Have you been a little more down, bored, even depressed than usual? Do dead daisies make you cry? Feel like no one seems to understand you? Is getting out of bed taking more energy than you can muster?

It happens to the best of us. But often, all it takes to push out of those joyless slumps are some basic life adjustments.

The poet Ginger Andrews calls these slumps the “mulleygrubs,” and she offers a solution: “Get up and bake a cake. If that doesn’t do it, put on a red dress.” We also recommend drastic haircuts, bowties and sparkly tights (or all three). Try keeping a list of one amazing thing you do each day. And there’s no shame in seeing a professional counselor, so don’t put off that very important move if sparkly tights don’t do the trick.

12. You’re shadowed by guilt over the things you haven’t done

You know that little thing that keeps nagging in your mind and stirring up a load of guilt? The yoga class you’ve always meant to join. The relative you keep meaning to visit. The service opportunities you’ve been wanting to try at church.

Here’s the deal: You need to poop or get off the guilt pot. Either start doing the thing you’ve been meaning to do for umpteen months or get real, drop the guilt and focus on something more realistic.

Take time to figure out whether the guilt you’re feeling is real (and you’re shirking something God-glorifying) or unfounded (and you can let go of what you can’t do and focus on what you can). Embrace the freedom of doing “small things in great love,” as Mother Teresa said it, instead of pouting over the seemingly big things somebody else did (or says you should do).

Girl messy bun

PS: I announced winners of my holiday giveaway here!



One response to “Signs You Need to Get Unstuck

  1. Love you emails, but I have to reduce mine this year. Please remove me from your list.

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