How to Break Free From a Long Period of Stagnancy

It’s been months since you’ve really put out any worthwhile work. You haven’t had a client or a job for quite a while and have succumbed to the pression. You’ve been languishing in utter futilities and watching time tick away, day after day. If any of those scenarios sound like a period in your life that you’re currently going through, then I’m sure you have the same questions that I did. How do you break the cycle? Just how do you get back to a healthy routine?

The aforementioned scenarios may not be the norm. However, in every person’s life, there are always hardships that can interrupt a streak of productivity and healthy behaviour. While many may find it easy to criticise those of us who’ve found ourselves grounded for long periods of time. We are all susceptible to this. The trouble is we often tend to get too comfortable thinking things over and over.

Yet, this situation is filled with potential. While most people move through life hardly assessing things, you’re in a privileged position, you’ve had enough time to probably assess 6 different lifetimes. In this article, we’ll be going through a few things you can do to exploit this period while reaping many benefits. A quick gentle reminder, be gentle with yourself. Stay open and unattached to any expectations of how quickly you ought to get back to things. I speak from experience when I say, it becomes a far less traumatic journey moving from inaction to action.

Life Review Sessions

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“The unexamined life is not worth living”


I know this may seem odd. Shouldn’t you be no longer thinking but acting instead. The thing is the thinking you’d done before was passive. You simply were thinking with no direction. This time, try to look at things objectively and just review the events of your life until now. It’ll be hard to keep emotions out of it, but set a timer for 15 minutes for an uninterrupted Life Review session per day, or a few times per week, and revisit the life you’ve lived in the past 6 months, year, then decade or more. The minute the timer rings, set another one for 10 minutes take note of:

  1. lessons from your past you haven’t applied to your life.
  2. Things that have held you back in your personal growth.
  3. Things you omitted to do, that could have made a difference.
  4. Things you did right in your own view, no matter how small.

Then resolve in your heart of hearts to take action on these things. Make this practice an integral part of your life, and modify it as you wish to suit your purposes. Take the time to really examine your life, and extract the best and most useful elements that can serve your growth. Make this an active part of your life, and you will live a more coherent one.

You may journal in these sessions, or meditate with your eyes closed. The point is to sit with your memory for a while without being swept back into old emotions. The minute you sense you are being overwhelmed with regret or any other unpleasant emotion, stop and resume your session on the next day. But take note of why you felt uncomfortable with the intent to address it on your next session. In time, it will become easier. If you’ve lived a particularly traumatic life, perhaps engage a therapist to help you through this examination of your past.

It is imperative that beyond the review, you extract at the end of each session what you think were the lessons behind these incidents. What led to them occurring as far as you can see? How have you been able to grow beyond them? If not, what can you do moving forward to begin the process of growth. Take 5-10 minutes to think on these questions, write your answers as they occur to you, and promise yourself to work on the solutions you’ve come up with. If some of the questions seem too daunting, rest assured there is an answer somewhere within yourself or out there. Set some time aside to seek them out, actively while remaining open to anything that comes to you.

Some ideas on where to begin looking:

  1. Ask your elders or a mentor; you can almost be sure that someone’s solved your particular problem or some variation of it.
  2. Read books on your issue; someone’s written about something similar or perhaps the very thing.
  3. Meditate on it; you have a vast source of wisdom right within you, just waiting to be tapped into.

While you were knee-deep into action or inaction, you may not have seen things for what they were. Life is always in motion so it’s understandable that in trying to keep up with it, you may realise that your path in life isn’t in alignment with your values and vision. You may have adopted ideas and trends that were limiting your progress.

Don’t shy away from personal accountability, what was your role in how things played out. As you view the past and really dig deep into it all session after session. Afterwards take time to recite this affirmation, and truly accept it:

I forgive myself for all the errors I made in my past. I will to live a better life moving forward and learn from them. I refuse to be limited by my past. I am an evolving being and my future is ripe with potential.

Say this to yourself, and know that it is true. As long as you are willing to learn from the past and refuse to be boxed in by it.

Be Open to anything, Attached to Nothing

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The future is a strange space, in that , the further ahead you look the less connected it seems from the current moment. Each action you undertake now is actually much more relevant. So why worry about everything that must happen, rather than being open to paths life opens up to you, that can lead you closer to where you need to go, add a great story to your life and unburden you of the need to control the universe and everything in it.

Nothing makes it seem like the ocean of opportunities has dried up, more than exceedingly narrowing the life experiences you can have. Why swim in a single stream when you could hop into the ocean itself. From there you can get a sense of things and of all that is out there. Don’t limit yourself, if you have an interest in something test it out. Look at everything with initial interest, and over time you’ll see what doesn’t suit your purpose in life and what does. Keep what does, and gently cast aside what doesn’t.

Always remain open, yet do not hold on to anything. If an avenue opens up, assess your interest, give it a shot if you’re unsure, or you are in fact interested. No one can predict every twist and turn life will take, so don’t remain fixated on a singular way things can play out.

Set Some Goals

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Once you’ve got a sense of where you want to go, you should set some goals. What are some short-term and long-term goals that will help you realise your envisioned future? Write those down and allow yourself to dream, this is your time to let loose. However crazy or mundane, or cool your goals sound? Great, write that down it’s a personal thing. No one can call your dreams too big, or too small but you. You’ve worked on the vision, the ideal, the dream, now is your time to set goals that will help you bring it to life. Add items from the future you enacted mentally, make it a project now.

To avoid repeating myself, please read this article on how to set goals. It’s a simple process that’ll get you where you need to go.

Act Confidently and Make Bold Moves

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

So you’ve relived all your greatest and lowest hits. You’ve reviewed your wonderful life and you’ve figured out what needs to be fixed to get you to the next level. Now you know what needs to be done and have a positive outlook for what’s to come. What’s left missing? Well, you’ve done all the mental work required to start moving forward. You’ve taken time to review your life, distance yourself from feelings and thoughts holding you back, and worked on a vision for the future. Unfortunately, this is not enough. Many find themselves thinking that thinking is tantamount to doing the work. It’s a good preparative but the part that’s actually doing the work is, well, DOING THE WORK. You can’t think your way into avoiding doing or having others do what needs to be done to bring your vision into the physical realm.

I know it’s tough after a while getting back into the action. Some of those muscles may be atrophied, and the only way to get them back in shape is to start acting. Make moves, small moves, medium moves or grand moves. You now know the larger vision, so plan a few steps ahead and increase the number of steps as you get a grip of things. Just make sure you act and set deadlines for when things need to get done.

It is critical that in the start you do not overwhelm yourself with too much activity. Don’t shock your system with 1000 to-do items all at once. Start with 1-2 manageable things, take those wins and move on to other related items that will advance you a little further. Steady manageable steps are what you’re aiming for. You do not want to grow too bold too quickly. You’ve been brave enough to decide you’ll start moving forward in life, and actually start doing it. Now learn how to walk again, or crawl, and then think of sprinting when your muscles have grown strong enough.

The error most make is trying to sprint with atrophied muscles. You’ll get discouraged, and many will equate their current weakness with their ultimate state. The same idea applies to almost everything. If you’re not used to studying for more than 20 minutes at a time, then work from there and add 5-10 minutes to each session, and day by day, you’ll grow stronger until you reach your ideal study time. Try to study for 5 hours in one go, and you’ll burn out. Sure you might get a few sessions in with much effort, but you’ll burn out in a week, and return to stagnancy once more.

We tend to return to our goals with ferocity, feeling that we have wasted enough time and want to pack each moment with enough activity to make up for it, pronto. Yet, that excess energy expenditure exhausts us. Remember, gradual and consistent advancement will soon compound and it always is superior to sporadic spurts of effort spread out over a decade.

Last Note

I don’t want to hold you here any longer, you need to start your journey back to the awesome life you were always meant to live. The world is eager to receive you once more in the field of action. However, to end this article I’d like to wrap things up with this final note. Be easy on yourself, it is tempting to judge your worth by what you currently are or have but grow out of that frame of mind. Adopt a growth mindset, and you’ll grow wings. You are indeed capable of attaining nearly anything you desire but only if you are patient enough to let yourself grow throughout the process. Many are stuck trying to attain high ideals with a mentality that is incompatible, and far too inferior to said dreams.

You can be and have what you want, but you need to stop chasing it frantically. Be confident that you can attain your goals, and that you have all you need in you, in the form of potential. All you need to do is tap into that, develop those latent abilities and create the future you want.

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