Recently I sent an e-mail to Get Busy Living subscribers asking what questions I could answer for them to help them with anything they’re struggling with. I got a bigger response than I expected and got great questions that I know many more people are struggling with.
So I’m going to get to al the questions. Some will be in one article by itself, others will be together, and some I’ll answer privately if I feel that is best.
I left out names to provide anonymity and also made any changes to spelling or grammar if needed.
Today’s question is one that is very common and that’s why I want to answer it first. This is the biggest problem I read about and I know the feeling because I went through this in my life.
How to feel ‘unstuck’ in life? I want to make various changes (job, relationships, own self) but I just don’t know where to even start to begin living the best life I can/could.
This is the most popular question I get so thank you for asking.
My advice is from my own experience. I know what that feeling is like. I know the unhappiness and frustration to feel stuck. I will share what helped me finally get unstuck in life.
I hope you’re at a point where you’re willing to do whatever it takes. That means trying new things. That means getting out of your comfort zone. That means doing things differently. That also means having an open mind to take in advice from different sources then trying it for yourself.
There’s nothing worse than someone thinking they know it all and being stubborn. If they did, then why are they stuck in life or running into the same problem over and over again?
Let me be honest about something. Change is hard. I get it. It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy and that’s why many people never live a fulfilling life. They live an average life full of regret. Because it’s hard, you’re going to want to give up a lot. There will be times when you wonder if it’s all worth the effort. I know I did. After thinking about it, I realized that I would be so upset with myself I didn’t keep trying. I was doing the right things, but not seeing results yet. But I believed in the process and the journey.
To get unstuck in life, you must posses one important belief, motto, attitude, or mindset. Whatever you want to call it. Without this, nothing else I tell you will matter.
You have to take 100% responsibility for everything your life. That means the good and the bad. You have to stop complaining, blaming and pointing fingers. When you feel stuck, you also feel that this isn’t your fault. I know because that’s how I used to be. Nothing was my fault. How could it be when I followed everything I should do in life?
There’s one quote that I read that was a wake up call. I can’t remember who said it but it goes something like this.
If you don’t want the next five years of your life to be like the last five, you can’t keep doing the same old shit.
Do you want the next five years of your life to look like the last five? I know you don’t. Then what you’ve been doing has to change. You have to understand that. You can’t keep pointing the blame at people, feeling sorry for yourself, and spending 6 hours a night watching TV.
What has to change is you and much of your life.
I was 32 at the time when I read that quote. I had felt stuck for the majority of my 20’s. I always thought my 20’s would be a great decade. A time when I would discover my passion, work hard, make lots of money, buy a house and car. In my 30’s, I would get married and start a family.
It didn’t turn out like that. I was stuck in a restaurant job I hated. What was worse was that I had no idea what I wanted to do. I couldn’t quit my job because I had a mortgage, bills, and car payment to take care of. So I was stuck and I hated myself for being in that position with no way out.
So at 32, when I hit my rock bottom driving home from work one night, I wrote a letter to myself and wrote I was willing to do whatever it took because I didn’t want to keep waking up and going to sleep unhappy for the rest of my life.
I wanted to create the life of my dreams.
Of course I didn’t want the next five years of my life to be like the last five. I understood that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I could not be the same person and expect my life to change the way I wanted. Old habits had to go. I had to starting building a new version of myself.
I thought to myself, “What I have been doing has gotten me to my lowest point in life. If I start doing the opposite of everything I have been doing, then I would be at the highest point in my life. Right?”
I know it sounds simple, but it made me understand that I needed a new approach. I wasn’t going to literally do the opposite of everything I was doing, but I understood the idea of having to do new and different things in my life.
If some expert said to jump ten times on one leg every morning while saying “I’m going to have a great day”, I would have tried it. I seriously was open to trying new ways of doing things if that was going to help me.
I knew I had to change a lot about myself if I wanted to get different results.
This was the second big discovery. Before in my 20’s my goal was to be happy. In order for me to feel happy, I wanted to find a new career. When I gave up trying to find a new career, I got interested in making money online.
Money was my key to happiness. That’s all I cared about.
If I could just make money online in anyway that allowed me to quit my job, I would be happy. Everything else would be amazing. I would have more confidence. I would fall in love. I would have more time to take care of myself and be more healthy.
I was so focused on getting the results I wanted (money) because I felt that would make me happy. That approach didn’t work cause I turned 30 years old and was more lost and confused in my life than when I turned 20.
Now I’m going to share what helped me finally change my life. It took me many years of feeling stuck and doing it the wrong way. So I hope my experience can help anyone who’s reading this.
To begin living the best life you can, you have to start with yourself. That is the only thing you can control right now. You can’t control when you’ll get into a new relationship nor can you control when you’ll get a new job.
But you can control what you do and what you think. That’s where I began and so should you.
I saw a TED talk by Shawn Achor. Highly recommend to watch it. Then if you want to learn more read his book called The Happiness Advantage.
I learned that I have to be happy first if I wanted to get the results I wanted in life. If I would have read that in my 20’s, I would have ignored it cause that’s wrong.
As a society, we’ve always been trying to achieve a goal in order to be happy in life. If we could make more money, have a new job, get married, or start a profitable business, then we would be happy.
I had been doing it all backwards. I finally understood that’s why I couldn’t achieve success.
When I say happy, don’t think it’s ignoring your problems and walking around with a smile on your face all day long. It’s about changing how you see the world through your habits, your attitude, your thoughts, and your actions.
The day after I hit my rock bottom and wrote a letter to myself, I began this new chapter in my life with a new mindset. I still had the same horrible job. I still had to go to it. I still hated driving to work and being there for even one minute. That part of my life wasn’t going to be changing any time soon unfortuatnely.
I started reading personal development books again to learn what successful people do.
One thing I started to do was a morning routine. A great book to learn more is The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I also did a podcast interview with him.
I had never done a morning routine before, but I was willing to try something new. One part of the morning routine was to write in a gratitude journal. I had always read the benefits of a gratitude journal.
Even in my 20’s when I read personal development books thinking that reading books would without action would instantly change my life, I had read that I should be thankful. I thought that was stupid. How can I be thankful? I hated my life. What could I be thankful for? I had nothing that I could think of that I was thankful for. Instead I could go on and on about what I hated and what I wish I had in my life.
Now I was at a point in my life where I was open to trying new things. As you can see, I began doing a lot of things I hadn’t done before. I needed to if I wanted to get different results in my life.
As part of my morning, I would write down ten things I was thankful for. Simple things like having a bed to sleep in, having clean water to drink, having a paycheck even though I didn’t like my job, and being able to walk. We take these things for granted and overlook them and instead focus on what we wish we had in life.
I’ve written an article about starting a gratitude habit.
How this helps is that is starts shifting your mind to look for what’s good in life instead of what’s bad. It’s training your mind to see differently.
Another change I made was my health. I’m not suggesting that you need to completely change what you eat and join a gym. Even moderate activity a few times a week has physical and mental benefits. Something like a walk is all you need or any activity that gets your heart rate up and that you enjoy.
I decided to challenge myself to get healthy.
Since I graduated high school, I had always been up and down in terms of my health. I’d go months being in great shape and eating healthy and then many months eating junk food and not exercising.
In October 2011 when I hit rock bottom, I was in horrible shape. Who’s motivated to exercise and eat healthy when life sucks? I certainly wasn’t. I would eat to feel better. During my lunch break, I would go and get fast food, then come back and take a nap before starting the dinner shift. I would eat dinner often after 9pm when it slowed down. When I came home, I would sit in front of my computer with the TV on. I stay up till 1-2am. I woke up 9-10am and would be on the computer or watching TV until I had to drag myself to work again and repeat my day.
My clothes started feel more tight. I had less energy. I just felt crappy every day. So turning my health around was important to me. I knew what it was like to be physical fit. I felt great. I had more confidence and more energy.
Exercise plays in an important part in creating a more positive mind. A more positive mind allows us to get the results that we want in life because we start to see opportunities and answers that we’re seeking.
I did something crazy though. I signed up for a half marathon despite never running that distance. I knew if my plan was to just go to the gym, I would lose interest. I needed something tangible to work towards. A half marathon was a long distance but doable in my mind. I thought if I could run 13.1 miles without stopping then I would be in great physical shape. I followed a free training program I found online. My first week of running was difficult of course. As the weeks progress, I got stronger and my endurance improved.
I also found the more I did it, the easier it was to do. I was training in October, November and December. The coldest months in Florida. Waking up from my warm bed and going running in the cold mornings did not sound fun.
Once I got momentum going by sticking to my training, it was easy to get out of bed. I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t come up with excuses why not go run. I actually looked forward to it.
Besides just exercising, I changed what I ate. Six days a week I would eat reasonably. No fried foods, no sweet, smaller portions, not too much processed foods. Even on my lunch break from work when I ate out, I would eat Chipotle often cause it was easy to get something healthy. Every Sunday was my cheat day. That was the day I would indulge in every craving I had. I would eat anything I wanted from morning till night. By the end of the day, I would be so full and look forward to the next day when I wouldn’t be eating so much. Doing that helped me stick with the other six days.
Three months after I began I completed my first half marathon. I remember the feeling when I was done. I had done something I never thought was possible. I felt like I could do anything now. I had so much confidence because I started as a beginner. I lost about 15 pounds in the process and physically and mentally felt great. I ended up doing another half marathon just two months later because it was fun.
My biggest goal in life that would make me happy wasn’t to lose 15 pounds, run a half marathon, have more energy during the day, or feel more confident. It was to make money online so I could quit my job. If you noticed I didn’t mention yet about my plans to do so. The old me would have immediately gone online to research the next money making opportunity. That’s what I did before and that’s why I ended up trying ways that seemed too good to be true. I got sucked into courses where I was promised it was easy to make money. These marketers know exactly what to say and what buttons to push to get us to buy.
All the ways I had tried to make money were not interesting to me. I was just interested in making money as soon as possible. When I tried for a month and saw little or no results, I would give up. I lacked patience. This happened over and over again. Since the ways to make money were not interesting, I had no motivation to keep trying.
I said this time I knew I needed to do things differently if I wanted different results. This is why I didn’t jump into whatever money making opportunity came my way. I knew that strategy hadn’t worked for me. This time I focused on improving myself first.
I had to become the type of person that would get results in life, achieve my goals, and be a successful entrepreneur online.
I changed my habits. I read books. In the car instead of just listening to the radio, I listened to personal development CDs I borrowed from the library. I had a morning routine. I practice gratitude. I sold my Xbox video game system so I wouldn’t waste time playing video games. I watched less TV.
I was online researching ideas. I came across people who were making money online and reading their articles. I began listening to podcasts.
All these changes better prepared me when I decided to start this blog in January 2011 and the same month start development on my first iPhone app called Photo 365. As a person, I was better prepared to handle the rollercoaster ride I was about to embark.
14 month after I had written that letter to myself, I had achieved more than I imagined. I had a thriving blog that people loved. My first app, made $30,000 in the first month thanks to Apple featuring it. I got married. I wrote a short e-book. Here’s a year in review I wrote for 2011 that highlights everything.
It’s all because I stopped doing the same old things and expecting different results. I stopped wanting and hoping for a better life. I took action towards that and I started in the area of my life where I could control first.
So to start to live the best life you can don’t focus first on external goals like finding a job, finding love, or making more money as the key to improving your life and happiness.
Start focusing on what you can control. Start focusing on you. See what you’re feeding your mind. That includes what you read, watch, or listen to on a daily basis. Get out of your comfort zone. Learn new skills or improve existing skills you have.
Take a look at the five people you spend the most time with. Are they the type of people you want to end up like? If not, then you need to distance yourself and find new friends. You can do that through local classes or finding activities through Meetup.com.
Get new habits into your life and get rid of bad ones. Rememeber you have to start doing different things if you want to get different results.
The change you want in your life is up to you. You can’t depend on someone coming into your life to change it. No one is going to do it for you. No one is going to save you. It’s up to you and I’ve shared what helped me.
You can start with your health. That’s something you can control. Find an activity you enjoy doing. I like running cause it’s easy. I don’t need a membership or fancy equipment. If you hate running, don’t run. Just go for a brisk walk. Listen to a podcast while you walk. There’s hundreds of ways to get exercise so find what is best for you.
I’ve given you a lot of advice based on my experience. I don’t want you to leave overwhelmed so I’m going to tell you where you should start if you had to just pick one thing. Start with a morning routine. Work on creating your own morning routine which includes gratitude, reading, mediation, some movement, and alone time. Your morning routine is your time. Don’t check e-mail or social media. That can wait till later in the day.
I wish there was a shortcut to success and happiness. For many years, I wanted it to be easy. I hoped so many times that I would wake up feeling like a new man with unlimited motivation and an idea for a business that I could start. I wanted change to happen quickly because I could not stand the life I had. That made me not have patience and also give up on ways to make money online when I wasn’t seeing success quickly.
What you don’t need are top ten life hacks or five ways you can instantly be happy now.
What you have to imagine is that this moment is the new chapter in your life. Forget about the past. Forget about mistakes and regrets. That’s all in the past and nothing can be done about it. Start focusing on each day you’re living. What can you do today to change just a tiny bit?
Creating the type of life you want isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen in a week or even a month, but I guarantee that in the next 12 months you can make huge changes in your life. You can achieve more than you imagined in just 12 months. I can say that confidently because I did.
You have to take 100% responsibility for your life first. The only person that is going to change your life is the one you see in the mirror every day. You have to stop making excuses and blaming everyone and everything around you.
I’ve given you my best advice on how to start. It’s up to you to decide what your next move will be. Will it be going back to your old life, old ways, and ignoring everything you just read? Or are you willing to do whatever it takes, try new things, have an open mind, and take it one day at a time?
That is up to you to decide.
Gustavo Estrada says
Thank you for sharing your experience. I greatly appreciate your openness and wish you an excellent 2018.
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it and wishing you the best in 2018!
It was a good read. I enjoyed your perspective. Happy New Year Benny!!
Thank you! Happy new year Daniel.
Lori @ Left-field with Lori says
I just stumbled across your blog and am glad I did. I recently went through a period of stuck-ness, and it took a herculean effort (and several years) to pull myself back out. We apparently used a lot of the same ingredients – trying new things that are uncomfortable, having accountability, changing daily habits, small rewards, and then keeping up the momentum. I’ll also add that it helps to understand why we are stuck and what reinforces the resistance to change. Thanks for sharing your story, your insights, and your successes. Happy New Year!
Thank you for this post. I needed it I have been feeling stuck lately it is time for me to stop focusing on things I can’t control and focus on the things I can.
Great article Benny, Its always great to embrace change, you can find a new way of doing things or open yourself up to new ideas.
Brian Bell says
Excellent post, Benny. I greatly appreciate you sharing your experience with us. Life change is definitely not easy, but it is oh so worth it. Thank you again for sharing your journey with all of us out in the world. You rock dude!
David Menezes says
A great text, in these last days, I realized that to be happy, I just have to be myself.
Many times I stopped doing something that I liked simply because of the opinions of others, and only today I realized that I was not myself, but rather what I thought others would like me to be.
Only now without this social pressure would I imagine being myself.