There is a time for everything. You’ve probably heard that a few times. Applying this saying to your life could save you from unnecessary anxiety. It’s important to understand the role that timelines play in our lives and how each person’s timeline is different. Having this understanding will help relieve a lot of millennials and gen-Z from feeling stuck in life.
A significant indicator of a quarter-life crisis is an unease or dissatisfaction about your situation or place in life and a general feeling of being stuck. Maybe you’re feeling left behind by your peers, feeling out of place in life, feeling unestablished, or you find that you’re constantly in transition — from one job to another, from relationship to relationship, between cities— with no real advancement. You probably think you’re not making as much as your peers and that makes you unfulfilled, you seem to be the only person not in a relationship, everyone else but you seem to have it figured out. So you’re overcome with a sense of urgency which adds an extra layer of stress and compounds an already confusing experience.
This sense of urgency can, in turn, cause you to rush through experiences, make impulsive decisions, hop from one short-lived opportunity to the other, and shy away from delayed gratification. When you do this, you tend to miss out on learning opportunities, and instead of building something lasting, you fail to build anything and continue to coast through life.
There is a time and a timeline for everything, so pace yourself. A wise person once told me: If you crank up the oven when baking a cake, it won’t bake any faster, it’ll just get burned. If you are currently unemployed, underemployed, in a job you hate, or in a stressful position, focus on what you can learn from your current stage before it passes.
A few years ago, I was at a job I really hated. The pay was low, the work was tedious, the company culture was toxic. I wanted out. However, I had a pretty good team leader who was great to work with and great at training and delegation. So I focused on the one positive of that job — working with a great boss. Even though I couldn’t wait to get out of that situation, I spent my time there learning about digital marketing, reporting, and data analysis. Skills that I still use today, and have helped me in running my business. It was an unpleasant phase in my career, but I was able to take whatever I could from that state in life to help me in my next phase.
Below are three tips to help you to stop feeling stuck in life and instead take advantage of your situation. These three points include mental work and also actionable steps you can take to rid yourself of that rut feeling and get into the right mindset that will bring about the change you seek.
Be Intentional With Your Timeline
Regardless of what you do or where you are, take every chance you have to grow and prepare yourself for your opportunity. You’ve probably heard of this formula:
Opportunity = preparation + luck
For example, if you’re thinking of quitting your job to start your business, you have to consider all the factors to ensure you are ready. It’s easy to romanticize the idea of entrepreneurship but in reality, it requires a lot. Do you have the discipline to be your own boss? Do you have the perseverance to work 60-80 hour weeks with little to no pay? Do you have the training to recruit and manage people, negotiate, etc? While you do the job you can’t wait to quit, take advantage of where you are to learn, read books, save money, or take courses that will prepare you for your next stage. Prepare yourself so when the right thing comes along, you are fully equipped to jump on it. This approach helps you be intentional with your timeline instead of rushing through stages, you take time to build and prepare for the next. Good opportunities come with responsibility, and if you aren’t prepared, you could end up messing up. Rushing into things doesn’t guarantee you will succeed at it. Cranking up the heat prematurely could leave you burned.
Find The Silver Lining
Find the silver lining in your current predicament and focus on that. Ask yourself, “what can I learn from my current stage that will help me in the next”? I’ve written a few times about the benefits of having a growth mindset and this is another way you can apply it. Don’t stop dead in your tracks and fill your days with complaining. Find the good, any good, and focus on it. There are situations that you have to leave immediately because they are detrimental to your mental health, and there are some that you can wait out while you figure out the next steps. The latter is where this rule applies. No experience is a complete waste, even the most negative encounters at least leave us stronger.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Nothing lasts forever and that also applies to whatever negative or unpleasant situation you’re currently in. Keep working towards what you want, keep building, keep the forward momentum and change will come. Do not get bogged down by how things look or by how hard it feels. Break down your goals into smaller bits and start crushing them bit by bit. If you’re feeling left behind, remember that you are running your own race and not someone else’s. You should only be in competition with yourself. Life happens in stages and you are not the exception, so whatever stage you are in now will pass and you will move on to something different and hopefully something better.
I leave you with a favorite quote that can help alleviate that feeling of being stuck
For everything, there is a season,
A time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. (NLT Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Remember: It’s normal to have delays in life and the coronavirus pandemic has caused even more delays. It has set some people back, knocked others off course, and destroyed plans. I hope this perspective provides some reprieve from the daunting feeling of uncertainty and anxiety and gives you the strength to rebuild. I wish you the best in your endeavors and may you find grace when and where you need it the most.