So you just hit a major or even just a minor goal in life and you’re doing well, for the most part. But soon, the same old routines and the same old problems come back, and suddenly, you find yourself procrastinating on work you need to get done and things you used to enjoy doing. Every day feels like a chore and you no longer feel as passionate or as motivated as you did before. You constantly feel like you’re stuck in a rut; like you’ve peaked like all your best days are behind you, and it’s all downhill from here.
If you find yourself wondering if you’re all alone in this, don’t worry, you’re not. Stagnation comes for everyone and for all sorts of reasons. For many, stagnation comes after they’ve achieved some great milestones, while others feel it after enduring hits in their respective careers. Whatever the case, stagnation can be hard to get over and it’s easy to feel like you’ll never be happy or achieve anything great again, but that’s never the case.
Here are some ways you can cope with stagnation and get over this temporary rut quicker:
Make active change
In times like these, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of self-pity and despair. You just want to wallow in your sadness and not do anything about it. And yes, it might be good for you, healthy even, to allow yourself to feel sad or upset from time to time, but the first step towards making yourself feel better is always to be open to change.
You yourself have to want to change and be better. If you don’t, then you’re only letting the stagnation win. You can’t just wait around for things to get better and let everything and everyone else do the work for you. You need to be the one helping yourself and making the change happen.
This means taking the initiative to do things that you know can help you, such as reaching out to your friends and family or talking to a therapist. Remember that you have the power to change your situation at any time and if you want it to get better, you need to do it yourself.
Seek new environments
The environment we surround ourselves in has a huge impact on our mental well-being, and we don’t just mean our physical environment. Yes, having a cluttered workspace, or living in a noisy, crowded area can affect your mental health, but your environment also includes your social environment (the friends and people you surround yourself with on a daily basis) and your economic environment (how ‘well-off’ you and your family are economical). All of these factors can greatly affect your overall mental health, whether positively or negatively.
While you can’t always control or change certain parts of your environment, you can focus on things that you can change. If the mess in your room or workplace starts to bother or distract you, clean it up and organize your stuff. If you no longer feel safe with your current living space, then you can call up reliable movers and find a better place. If you don’t like your current work environment or feel dissatisfied with your job, nobody is stopping you from quitting and finding better opportunities.
If you don’t want to do anything drastic just yet, try working someplace else, or spending time away from your usual haunts. Changing up your routine might be all that you need to refresh your mind and heart and get you back on track.
Take a break
If changing your routine or going to a new workplace still doesn’t do it for you and you still struggle with work and you still don’t have any good ideas, maybe it’s time to take a break. Stagnation can be a sign of burnout. Burnout is a very real, very volatile thing that can affect your performance and your motivation. If you find yourself exhibiting the symptoms or signs of burnout, then it’s best to take a break.
Giving yourself time to breathe and not think about work for once can actually be very refreshing and can help you recover from burnout. In fact, it’s probably one of the few methods that actually work. Don’t be ashamed to take a step back when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or exhausted. Working through burnout can not only jeopardize your career and work, but it can be very bad for your mental and even physical health. Break times are important and you should learn to recognize when it’s time for you to take a break.
Often, when we’re faced with what seems like an insurmountable task, it looks and feels big and impossible because we see it as one whole thing that we need to get done as soon as possible. Fear of failure can often lead to stagnation. So how do we get over this fear? We take one small step at a time.
A small step might not seem like much when you compare it to the big picture, but if you focus on one step at a time, you’ll find that your tasks are much more manageable this way and are no longer as intimidating. For example, if you break an essay down into parts, with only one or two paragraphs in each part, then you can focus on one part at a time. When you’re done with one part, you just have to tell yourself to do one or two more paragraphs. That’s it. Then another, then another. And voila, you’re done!
Breaking your tasks down into small manageable chunks is not only one way to focus yourself, but also a way to stay productive when you don’t feel like you are. Remember that your progress isn’t measured only by the few big steps that you take, but also by the hundreds of small steps in between.
The most important thing you should remember is that this is only temporary. Stagnation is something that you can help and it’ll only be permanent if you let it be. If you still need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to a mental health professional, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best that you can in a bad situation and you should be proud of yourself for making it this far.