No matter who you are and no matter what level you’re at, you will — at some point — inevitably feel stuck when it comes to your passion. You could be five years in or twenty years deep, but rest assured: this will happen to you!
However, expected or not, it still feels like shit. Questioning what you love and wondering whether you should bother is an epic bummer. It really can be a dark night of the soul moment. And while you might feel like you’re being endlessly thrown around on the cruel seas of your subconscious, no feeling lasts forever. You can get out of this position, but it will require some work.
Here’s what you should do.
“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” — Banksy
TAKE A BREAK. PLEASE!
We’re taught to push push push, no matter what. The fear is real: ‘If I stop now, will I be forgotten in a week?!’ We think that doing nothing would be worse than burning out, and that only goes to show how desperate our addiction to “doing” is. (If you’re not constantly doing, then there’s time for… Gasp… THOUGHTS! Emotions! Dealing with your actual life! How terrible!)
On her Magic Lessons podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert was speaking to an author who was having trouble writing her second book. She felt stuck and uninspired. Liz’s prescription? Don’t work on your book for a month. Do anything and everything else instead. Fill up your life with living. The author she gave this advice to said she initially thought, ‘Oh, good! I have permission to take a month off!’ But her next thought was, ‘I don’t know if I can stay away from it for 30 days… I have so much to say!’
This is exactly how a break should make you feel. If you end up charging back into your passion at the end of week two, that’s perfect. But if you need the full month, TAKE IT!
TALK TO FRIENDS WHO LOVE WHAT YOU LOVE
There are a few reasons why.
1. Most people outside your industry or interest will empathise with your plight but they won’t fully understand, simply because they haven’t really been there. It’s essential to talk to people who actually get it.
2. Commiserating can be a deeply healing experience. Sometimes, let’s face it, you just need to vent.
3. But the best reason to talk to your friends who are also artists, or teachers, or macrame enthusiasts, is that they will be able to brainstorm with you, and most crucially, they have the ability to connect you to people who can help.
As much as we all love to think that we can go it alone, that only works up to a certain point. Eventually, we have to reach out and expand. Our lives are only as rich as the relationships we have with other people. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends or peers about what you’re facing, because, believe me, you are not alone.
WATCH DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT YOUR HEROES
I have yet to hear about a role model who was blessed with a flawless childhood, sailed from one grown-up success to another, and then died peacefully in her bed. Do you know why? Because that is not the stuff of heroes! Heroes struggle. They have their imperfections and inadequacies. The reason we love and revere our idols is because of their humanity.
If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, one of the best things you can do is to get down in the trenches with your heroes. Watch a documentary about their life, and realise that a blemish-free history is not what makes life interesting. Everyone experiences trying times. The trying times are not what define you. The only thing that counts is how you bounce back.
If you don’t feel reinvigorated — and full of ideas — after watching a documentary about your #1 inspiration, I will eat my hat.
GOOGLE YOUR PROBLEM
This sounds so obvious, but it works! If you have writer’s block, google it. If you’ve lost your inspiration, google it. If you can’t find a good coach, google it!
As much as our problems cause us pain, grief, and anxiety, they are not unique or special. Thousands (if not millions) of people have had the exact same problem you’re going through right now, and the great thing about the internet is that everyone is sharing their stories and experiences.
You don’t need to constantly reinvent the wheel. As Tony Robbins is so fond of saying, “Success leaves clues.” Use other people’s ideas to get you out of your slump!
REMEMBER THAT ALL IS NOT LOST
Feeling stuck or unsure is not a sign of your lack of commitment, or weakness, or ineptitude. It is simply part of the evolution process.
Want to go really big? Doubt and distress are mandatory. In order to get to the next level of what you’re doing, you have to experience some pain and some discomfort. Those are the essential ingredients of transformation.
Don’t be afraid to look your pain in the eye and acknowledge its existence. The longer you dance around it, the bigger it will become. Invite your demons to brunch and have a nice, honest chat. Once you get a fix on the exact size and shape of your pain, you’ll have more information on how to maneuvre around it.
BUT, IF YOU FEEL STUCK ALL THE TIME…
Then maybe it’s time to call the whole thing off. If your passion has become more pain than pleasure, and if just thinking about it makes you want to go back to bed, it might be time to do something else.
It sucks to quit something that you’ve poured your essence into, but if it ceased to be fun a long time ago, then you have to listen to yourself and act accordingly.
Pushing through mindlessly is the not the road to success. It is the road to an ulcer.
The upside? Think of all the free time you’ll have to pursue something that truly gets you going. There’s nothing better than feeling excited about what you do, and you deserve to feel that way every single day.