By David Joel Miller.
Feeling like you need a change but don’t know what to do?
You have been plotting along, but things don’t seem to be getting any better. You may be feeling restless, irritable, confused and indecisive. There are times in most people’s lives they don’t like where they are, but they are not sure what to do about it.
Whether it is an unhappy romantic relationship or an unfulfilling dead-end job, the decision to stay or go can be a difficult one. If you’ve reached a point in your life where you feel you can’t stay stuck where you are, but you don’t see a way forward, here are some suggestions.
Enrich the relationship.
People start new relationships, romantic or occupation ones, full of enthusiasm. As time passes that relationship loses its luster and the job becomes boring. Couples who do not maintain their relationship can find it falling apart. Put some spark back in your relationship by doing more things together.
Add some new roles to your romantic relationship. Become activity partners. Do more things together. Set some couple goals. Some couples exercise together, cook meals together, read together, or they may even learn a new skill together.
On the job, learning a new skill, taking on additional responsibilities or transferring to another assignment can help you regain your interest and enthusiasm. Challenging yourself to grow in your work life prevents burnout and those trapped feelings.
Become open to new experiences.
One way to get unstuck is to open yourself up to novel experiences. Take up a hobby, begin an exercise routine, or learn to cook a new recipe. Do you have a special interest? Maybe like to read or garden? Consider joining a club focused on your interest. Joining clubs and organizations is a great way to make new friends and to vary the routine.
By being open to new experience, be very careful about making changes you will not be able to take back. It is common for people who are stuck to think the problem is their partner or their job. Using a new relationship as a parachute to get out of your current relationship, can result in emotional injury when you hit the ground hard.
Don’t overreact to an unsatisfying job situation by quitting your current job with no new job to go to. As you try new activities and learn new skills, keep your eyes open for jobs that might interest you or places you might want to work.
One reason you may feel stuck in your current situation could be you don’t feel confident in your skills. Take trainings when they are offered, take a night class or an online class to improve your skill. With more training and skills, you may find opportunities for advancement in the organization where you already work. The reason you are feeling trapped maybe you don’t yet have the skills needed to move forward.
Work on yourself.
When you are going through a rough patch, anxiety or depression, it is easy to blame the situation or the people around you. Sometimes the reason you are feeling stuck and confused is that there is work you need to do on yourself. New opportunities can’t present themselves until you develop the skills and attitudes you will need.
In couples counseling we often find the couple blaming each other for their unhappiness. Very shortly the couple separates, and one or both begin new relationships. Within a year or two, both new couples have turned unhappy. Happiness is an inside job. You need to be able to be happy by yourself before you can be happy in a relationship.
Develop distress tolerance.
Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes there are difficult patches. Don’t be too quick to make an impulsive change in your life. Sometimes the reason choices aren’t clear is because you are not yet ready to make that change. Sometimes discomfort lasts only briefly. Focus on the distress, and it becomes unbearable. Focus on living the best life possible, and the discomfort may fade away.
Use the calendar, not a watch.
Have you been feeling pressure, as if time was running out on you? Don’t be one of those people who has unrealistic high expectations for themselves. Life is not a destination but a process. In your rush to become successful, however, you define success, don’t lose the joys of the things you do accomplish.
A successful life is rarely the result of achieving great things at a young age. Don’t expect to be all you can be by a particular age. Ever hear of a musician called a one hit wonder? Longevity in any field is the result of continual practice and improvement.
Clarify your choices by seeking professional help.
One legitimate goal of counseling is to help you see your choices clearly and resolve your confusion. The counseling room is a good place to talk things out with an objective person. Whether you are currently confused, facing difficult choices or is a time for a change professional counselor can help you through the process.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books