There are two different ways you might have realized you’re stuck.
The first is through longevity.
You’ve built up your life over years – decades. You’re right where you wanted to be. Only now that you “made it”, you’re not happy with what you’ve become. This realization tends to sneak up on you over time. You’re sitting in traffic, for example, with the sudden realization that you “hate” what you’ve become.
The second is from an event.
Like coronavirus. Or a cancer scare. Or a layoff from your company. In an instant, everything changes. Change happens whether you want it to or not.
No matter how it happens, you find yourself asking: what’s next?
You start focusing on anything that will help you with the process of getting unstuck.
And not just unstuck, but to set you up for creating real change that will last.
How do you do all that?
I have a process that works for me. Maybe it will help you too.
Create a negative/positive list
Have you ever created a pro/con list to solve a problem in your life? I find them useful in a variety of situations. In this case, you can use something similar to help you move forward with your life, only with negative and positive statements.
Let’s say you’re considering quitting your job and starting your own business. Start out by listing all the negatives. These are things you fear based around the decision you are trying to make. For the quitting your job example, you might write down:
- My business will fail
- I’ll never be able to find another job at this pay level
- I’m not smart enough to grow a business
- My family won’t support me
- I’ll look like a fool if it doesn’t succeed
Write it all down. Get it all out there.
Now it’s time to flip it around and create a positive list using the same consideration. In this case, if I were to quit my job and start my own business:
- I’m ready to put all my effort into my business to give it every chance of success
- I’ll learn so much from this venture, that even if I have to get another job, I’ll have more skills that will look great to a potential employer
- I might not know everything I need to know, but I have the resourcefulness to find the answers I need
- I’ll find family and friends who support my dreams and help me succeed
- I’ll become a mentor and teacher, giving back to my community, once I succeed
Even reading these five declarations, doesn’t it help put you in a better frame of mind?
If you’re saying “but these are just words on paper”, don’t worry. We’re not done yet.
Let’s talk about who you are
You’re right here in midlife, wanting your second act to be great.
Your first act has gone so fast, hasn’t it? But now, you’re ready for change. I’ve been there too.
You’re scared to move forward, scared if you don’t. Your life so far has zoomed by, and you’ve done some great things. But what about your second act?
Ask yourself this question right now.
Who don’t you want to be?
This isn’t about skillset, or jobs you no longer wish to do. Instead, this is about pushing you towards your goal.
If I’m thinking of quitting my job and starting a business, my “who I don’t want to be” list may look like this:
- I don’t want to be someone who is too scared to try something new
- I don’t want to be someone who holds back from my true potential
- I don’t want to wish in a few years that I had tried something new
- I don’t want to let the bullies around me win, telling me I can’t have my dream
Will this exercise bring up a lot of emotion? You bet. And that’s the point.
The clearer you see yourself, the things you don’t want to be remembered by, the bigger breakthrough you may have.
Once you have those answers down, we’re going to flip this on it’s head as well, and create a “Who do you want to be” list too.
This is going to push you to see who you might become … providing you take action right now. This is designed to dig deep and set your core goal and values to help you move forward right now, in midlife. Ask yourself:
- Who do I want to become in my 50s?
- Who do I want to become in the next decade?
- What legacy do I wish to leave behind?
See how these can help you unravel your internal desires?
Right now, I have a lot of uncertainty in my life – we all do. But I’ve been working through these exercises over and over, and some of my internal messages never waiver.
- I want to be a woman who gets things done.
- I want to motivate others to take action.
- I want to be an inspiration to my daughter.
Make this as detailed as you wish. More importantly, do this regularly, asking the questions in different ways.
Because every time you sit down to dive into this exercise, you’ll discover something deeper inside of you. And that will help push you to where you belong.
Let’s paint a picture of the future
Are you starting to get stronger in your convictions? Getting unstuck takes a lot of work, doesn’t it?
And let’s be honest for a moment. You never really get unstuck, do you?
Because every time you take a step forward, make a decision, or take action in any way, another challenge meets you head-on.
I do believe when you have the proper skills for getting unstuck, you’ll know how to dig deeper right from the beginning. And you won’t find the deep, soul-sucking questions to be quite so soul-sucking anymore.
If you’re feeling comfortable with your answers from above, let’s go through another exercise.
Let’s look at your future. With everything you discovered in the previous examples, let’s look at your life ten years from now.
Only nothing has changed. You didn’t make a decision – any decision. So you’re still in the same career. Living in the same place. Everything about you is exactly the same.
Accept for your age. You’re now ten years older, living the exact same life.
Paint the picture for yourself.
“This is me, doing everything the exact same way. I hate my job even more. They reduced my pension. I’ve had to take a cut in pay. I’ve lost some of my best working buddies – they’ve moved to other positions. I can’t retire, I don’t have the savings. I weigh more, because I never get out of the office.”
Make it as bleak – and realistic! – as possible.
Now we’re going to do the same, only write your compelling future. What does it look like if you take that first step? What does it look like if you:
- Say “yes” to a new career?
- Go back to college
- Start up that blog you’ve been thinking about
- Start a plant-based diet and get healthy
- Move to the location you’ve always dreamed about
- Have the income you desire
- Have the lifestyle you truly want to live
Details, ladies! I want the details here!
Five years. Ten years. Twenty years. What if you’re the perfect you?
Are you starting to see a better future for yourself?
These exercises aren’t something you do once in five minutes, and push them into a file.
Work on these regularly. Set aside time and do them yearly, quarterly, monthly. I promise if you start doing them and seeing a difference, you’re going to want to do them more often because it will set you up for future growth.
Once you’re comfortable with your list, look at and pick one thing. Just one.
What is it going to take to make that a reality? Do that one thing today. And don’t be scared, and push it aside. Just do it anyway. You don’t even have to tell anyone, not yet. Just do it.
Gain capabilities. Get more knowledge. Do what works.
Then, take action. This is when you get shit done.
Do. This. Every. Single Day. Take massive action and do it again.
Look, every journey is a rollercoaster. Every single thing we do has up and down action.
Some days are good, some aren’t.
But it’s always forward moving.
We get stuck because we’re afraid. We get comfortable because life isn’t “too bad.” We know what to expect here. We don’t have to risk it getting “worse.” So we stop.
Getting unstuck is all about taking that step.
Don’t bail now.
Trust me, I’ve done a lot of sitting around doing nothing in my life.
But at the end of the day, I DO want tomorrow to be better. I value getting unstuck more than anything else.
So I do one little thing.
And you can too.
I believe in you.