Check Your Vibes: 8 Ways To Deal When Life Hits A Plateau

Ever feel like your everyday life is akin to wading through molasses? Like you’re on the cusp of something great, but totally stumped on either what that thing is or when it will finally arrive, trapped in a holding pattern? Perhaps you’ve been working feverishly toward a goal, and know exactly what big changes are just out of your reach, but can’t seem to make progress on them any faster. Just as we experience fast-paced high points from time to time, life’s natural ebbs and flows include plateaus and periods of what can feel like total stagnancy.

Frustrating as it is, there’s often nothing you can do to spur things along but put your head down and keep showing up every day. Sometimes, though, these strange phases in life provide the perfect opportunity to reassess your reality, strengthen your emotional life, and maybe even speed up the road to change. Next time you find yourself in limbo, try a few of these tactics to make the most of your reality.

1. Pause to really, I mean really, appreciate the moment. Not to get dark, but someday, everything about your current reality will be gone, and you’ll be leading a totally different life (hopefully for the better!). Resolve to savor the good parts of this period of your life and lean in to experiencing fleeting moments to the fullest. Your current life may not be exactly where you want to be in the long haul, but it’s where you are now, so it’s worth enjoying it on the way to something bigger and better. In-between phases are beautiful in their own way, and that’s something we often don’t appreciate until it’s too late and they’re long gone.

2. Look at your goals again. If you’re feeling stuck on a big dream or plan, work backwards to determine exactly what steps you need to take to get there. Was your conclusion different from the first time you set this goal, or different from what you’re currently doing to try to make that goal happen? If so, you may have just found the reason you’re stuck!

3. Revisit an old interest. Remember in high school when your entire identity was defined by whatever hobby you decided to immerse yourself in? Spend some time plunging back into that pastime or another long-buried passion for a little revitalization. Photography or community theatre or soccer may have nothing to do with a goal you’re feeling stuck on, but it can make life feel vibrant again by opening you up to new people and new ways to spend your time.

4. Think about what you really want. Sometimes, the reason life feels unsatisfying is because we’re not prioritizing the things that really matter to us. It’s easy to find ourselves chasing a life path we think we want just because everyone else is after it. Lying to yourself, even if you’re not doing so intentionally, is tough to sustain for the long haul, so that feeling of stagnancy may be caused by some part of your subconscious having figured out that you’re bullshitting yourself. When you’re going after the life you really need to be living, doors may open in places they never existed in the past. Building a satisfying life is never simple, and being true to yourself doesn’t suddenly remove all the obstacles, but it certainly helps.

5. Remember that dull, unsexy periods are essential to every great success. This is the part that all those #DoWhatYouLove Instagrams and profiles on billionaires seem to leave out. Finding fulfillment and success is the result of a lot of hard work, and sometimes that work is monotonous. There’s nothing shiny about putting your head down each night for hours of thankless practice on your skill of choice, or sending boring emails each morning to keep your enterprise running, or doing difficult emotional work to become the happiest version of yourself. Those hours of work are often the key to the fulfillment you’re seeking, and the majority of people who’ve found “effortless” success have done the same. You’re in good company!

6. Make a bucket list. Is there something ridiculous you’ve always wanted to try? Now is as good a time as any! There’s nothing like a little skydiving or mountain climbing to break up a discouraging period.

7. Remember that growth is uncomfortable. Growth comes along with periods of self-doubt, stress, confusion, and hard work. Just before that rewarding result and self-confidence often comes a shitstorm. This is totally normal, and often a sign that amazingness is just on the horizon.

Besides the fact that this is just a great way to spend free time, there is no easier way to get out of your own head and forget your own stressors for a while. A few hours spent volunteering is a perfect excuse to dedicate all your energy to a task that has nothing to do with your own frustrations or problems. It’s practically a free vacation!