Everyday we wake up to a new day, even though sometimes our days are so similar they seem to melt together in our memories, making us feel stuck in monotony to the point where you're stuck thinking “Now what?”
I know this feeling all to well. After separating from the Navy in 2008, I spent several years applying for jobs and being turned down for being either “overqualified,” not having enough experience in the field I applied to, because I could not carry out specific physical tasks because of a service-connected disability, or because they found an ideal candidate elsewhere.
Each and every day was like a bad sequel to the movie Groundhog Day… each day was the same: drop an application, go to an interview, get my hopes up, attend a medical appointment at my local Veterans Hospital, receive a rejection callback, take a nap, criticize myself for what I could have done better while daydreaming about better results “if only I fill in the blank” all while dealing with debilitating symptoms that I desperately tried to ignore. I was in a funk. Something had to give.
Perhaps your situation is different. Feeling like every day brings on the same adventure (or lack thereof) can be incredibly daunting. And Netflix binges only go so far in forcing time to pass a little faster.
Determined to do something, I spent a few years in school, where I realized a love for business and finance and refined some lacking social skills. This is along the lines of what I would recommend for you. Perhaps school isn't your thing, or you're lacking the funding to make it happen. The biggest key is trying something different and new to you. For me, using my military GI Bill was the temporary answer.
Don't fret change.
There comes a time in everyone's life where sudden change occurs. Your choices are to embrace the change or to reject the change. At the end of the day, those who are able to adapt efficiently will be the ones who will succeed faster. Our society is rapidly changing, especially in regards to the economy. Inflation and the cost of living are skyrocketing, jobs are unstable, everyone seems to be stressed over what tomorrow will bring. When I went through this, there was one phrase commonly used in the Navy that constantly rang in the back of my mind:
“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
The number one thing that frustrates me is when I feel unproductive. Productivity is key to how I view my self-worth. If you're not experiencing productivity in your life, I encourage you to make small changes throughout your day… even if it is making your bed each and every morning.
I've also found a lot of comfort in gardening, and encourage you to give it a try. Watching vegetables and flowering bushes that I plant and nurture grow, and then harvesting my delicious rewards is absolutely incredible. Plus, playing in the dirt always brings out the kid within me. In fact, gardening is known to help relieve anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Training our dogs and seeing the results when they learn a new command or game (like our Rottweiler who enjoys playing hide and seek) is incredibly fulfilling. Sometimes just brushing our Newfoundland's long fur can be therapeutic, and offer a good excuse to get out of my own head to really be present and offer a nice break to encourage some creative thinking.
But what about professionally?
I, like many veterans, am among the ridiculously high veteran unemployment statistics. Yes, my friends, the struggles veterans face every day are real. There really isn't anyone to blame, and it has nothing to do with a lack of trying. Maybe you were also “overqualified” or perhaps you just didn't fit in with the office culture. Or maybe you, like me, experienced difficulty trying to break into a new career field. It takes a lot of passion and hard work to find where you belong.
Unemployment (and under-employment) creates a very stressful time, and can do some serious damage to your self-worth. Whether you are a transferring military spouse, are transitioning from military service to the civilian sector, or you don't have any experience with the military whatsoever… it's the one thing we all have in common. If you haven't experienced it, I strongly suggest you come up with a plan “B,” just in case sometime down the road you are also affected. If you're currently looking for something to help you, I strongly encourage diving into some entrepreneurship.
Being someone who specializes in business strategy and research, I tailored my broke unemployment season (without receiving unemployment benefits) into my own business teaching people about living a healthier lifestyle and creating their own similar businesses. I might have a few resources that could help you… contact me if you want them.
Follow a passion
What are you interested in? Everyone always asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. For a long time, I wrote down things that sounded fun to try, which is exactly what I recommend for you too.
I found a lot of career options I was good at, but nothing I really enjoyed. This is important because you need to know what you don't want just as much (if not more) than you need to know what you do want.
Little did I know, I would have to reflect on my childhood to really find what I was most passionate about. I made a list of three jobs I wanted to do “when I grow up” for a second-grade assignment. I wanted to be a mom, but the teacher said that wasn't a “career” (I'm so blessed for that to be my “job” today!). So I thought long and hard and I made a list.
- I wanted to teach.
- I wanted to be a nurse… to do something to help other people increase their health.
- I wanted to train dogs.
- I wanted to be a mom (this option wasn't an “appropriate” option, according to my teacher… though now that I am a mom, I fully believe it should be!)
While in the Navy, I was actively training and teaching the entire time I was on active duty, and even now I do a fair amount of teaching (usually one on one with the occasional small class), consulting, and mentoring. While in the Navy, I spent my last year conducting wellness physicals, providing required inoculations, screened Sailors and Marines for overseas duty, and re-enlistments. Now, I help people learn about and implement natural health alternatives and reduce toxins in their lives that cause illness. I actively worked on checking off everything on my list, until I found my place.
Are you stuck not knowing what you want?
Reflect on your childhood.
- What did you always want to do, but haven't tried yet?
- What brings you joy, and reminds you of yourself when you were a kid?
- What could you talk for hours upon hours about without getting bored?
- What kind of results would motivate you to achieve more?
- What intuitively sounds like fun?
You'd be surprised about how wise children are (even ourselves when we were children). Often growing up, we lose track of what is really important. A job doesn't have to be stressful, boring, or leave you feeling unfulfilled. Find a passion.
Don't know where to start? Start by writing down everything that sounds enjoyable and work through the list, checking off each line as you go. When you find something you enjoy, stay there for as long as you enjoy what you're doing.
When you're creating that list, sometimes its enjoyable to just sit and let the words flow, without really thinking… then look back over it. Often times that is your subconscious trying to guide you… you'll never go wrong listening to your inner voice.
Once you start finding yourself, continue growing.
- Find your passion.
- Find a mentor.
- Grow as a person.
Sometimes pushing through isn't the only answer. There is only so much that we can do mentally before running into physical blocks that make us feel stuck.
Sometimes we feel stuck, knowing we need to move forward, yet somehow unable to. You know what you need to do, you know how to do it, and yet you can't seem to figure out why you're not doing anything other than staring at your plan and finding “busy work” or bingeing on Netflix.
I think we all go through seasons where that is the case. I know I do. Some months I'm bingeing on productivity, while other months all I can seem to accomplish is feeding the kids, and snuggling on the couch with a large blanket and plenty of snacks, watching my boys' favorite movies.
I have found dietary habits largely impact how we feel, and can even mess with our motivation. Nutrition is HUGE. It was partially responsible for my dramatic recovery from autoimmune and neurological issues. When my husband and I spent 30 days on a strict Paleo diet, we were surprised by how clearly we could suddenly think, the unexpected weight loss, and the drive we needed to be productive. We felt better physically and emotionally, which lead to helping break through some of our “stuck.”
I rely a lot on essential oils helping me get my mind back on track when feeling stuck. Especially oils like frankincense, peppermint, lemon, and sandalwood. I choose a few oils, and either diffuse them in an essential oil diffuser, wear a drop or two on a diffuser necklace or bracelet, or dilute them 1 drop oil per 5 drops carrier oil and massage on my neck or temples.
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Have you ever lost your way? What have you done to refocus?
Tell us about it in the comments!
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