I have to be honest with you here, I’m sitting in this exact position right now. I’m stuck. Everything I do feels like I’m just spinning my wheels. I don’t feel energised, I don’t feel motivated, I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job, I don’t feel appreciated.
It happens. It happens to all of us. If you tell me you never feel this way, I’ll consider you a dishonest person.
I’m not exactly sure how we get to this place. I know that it seems to be a bit cyclical for many people so maybe it follows moon cycles, or hormonal cycles, or something like that. Maybe it’s just the natural ebb and flow of our lives here on this earth, that age-old idea that what goes up must come down playing out over and over again.
I do know that this cycle feeds itself on our imbalances. When we’re putting too much effort into one thing and not enough in others, when we’re too busy chasing information to actually put in the work we need to, or vice versa, when we have our priorities wrong, we often end up in this emotional muddle. We know that something is wrong, we can sense it and feel it and it can show up as this feeling of being stuck, trapped, stagnant.
So, we know intuitively that this sense of stuckness is indicating that there’s a problem somewhere. But what do we do with it? How do we get to the root of it, how do we address the imbalances and fix the problem?
You might feel naturally like you need to amp things up; work harder, do more, keep pushing yourself forward, to make that feeling of stuckness go away. But that’s only going to tie you up in more knots, and make you feel like you’re spinning your wheels faster. Adding more isn’t the way forward when you’re stuck, just like trying to swim against the current isn’t the way to save yourself when you’re drowning.
So my answer is simple: go back to basics.
You already know what is really important to you. You might have lost sight of it somewhere along the way, but you remember. Go back to that.
What is it that you value the most in your life? It’s time to distill things back down to those core values and bring it all back into focus. We need to peel off the layers of extra stuff and focus on the core until we’re moving freely again.
What are the bare basics for you? Explore what you need to do to meet your core responsibilities, without the weight of all those extra obligations that we tend to place on ourselves.
For me, going back to basics means I pare back to a much simpler daily rhythm that focuses on my most basic routines. I do a simplified cleaning routine. I feed my family very simple foods that don’t require much preparation or thought. I dedicate less of my time to work so that I’m still meeting my most important obligations, but not doing too much. I make sure I’m including acts of self care and creative expression throughout my day. I try to get out into nature daily and make sure I’m taking time to reflect and process my thoughts.
Throughout the process of paring back to basics, whatever that means for you, the point of the exercise is to make space and time to rebalance. It is nearly impossible to rebalance when you have too much on your plate. You have to be able to listen in on your thoughts and give undivided attention to your inner dialogue so that you can learn which of your normal daily activities are creating too much stress in your life.
However, unless we have planned vacation time in which to do this, it is also very difficult to allow this to happen when we know we’re not meeting our obligations or that work is stacking up for us back in the ‘real world’. So seek balance by cutting out things that are not strictly necessary but doing the things that are with mindfulness and intention. It’s a way to quiet yourself enough to be able to listen in on your thought process.
When we are stuck, usually we have been putting too much pressure on ourselves with our obligations and perhaps ignoring the need to take care of ourselves. Self care is really, truly vital. Don’t get caught in the false idea that sacrificing self-care time (Including sleep!) to get more work done is the way to be more successful. If you want to be more productive, in fact, take better care of yourself.
Your self care does not have to be elaborate or fancy, but ensuring that you are prioritising your physical and mental health is a serious investment in your future. It protects against burn-out and will help you to be able to remain happy, fruitful and productive for longer.