What to do When You Feel Stuck in Life With No Way Out

by Alexander Heyne · 114 comments

It’s easy to get stuck in life.

In fact, for most of us, it just happens. One day we just realize it.

We get that nagging feeling that “doing this, here, was not what I was meant to be doing.”  We get that nagging feeling that there’s somewhere else we should be. We dream of escaping constantly.

Life has a little bit less zing to it. Happy things don’t get us quite as happy, and sad things – wait, life is sad, we tell ourselves – so we suck it up.

We start telling our friends who are having hard times “Welcome to life. Anything you want has to be attained through struggle and warfare with life.”

“Dreams? Who can afford them.”

“At least I’m paying my bills and I have a place to live.”

“Ehh that’s only possible for a select few people.”

For most of us, we hit that “stuck/fucked” spot right when we get the first secure job. It pays us good enough so that we don’t worry, we get a good enough apartment, then a good enough spouse, then a good enough marriage. And then life is “Eh, good enough” for the rest of our lives.

Fuck good enough.

5 Ways to Tell if You’re Stuck

#1 You have less energy and couldn’t care less about anything

The most overwhelming and obvious sign is low energy and a general inability to get motivated.  Everything seems like a struggle.

You know you need to make friends but you don’t want to put in the effort.

You know you need to lose weight but you don’t want to go to the gym.

You want to learn how to cook but just can’t be bothered to.

And that basically is the essence - you just don’t care anymore. 

Everything is too much effort for you, nothing seems to get you super aroused and happy (Usually the only thing that does that is when the person gets a spouse/falls in love, etc. Which is basically their only anchor into sanity).

Underlying the signs and symptoms of depression, dullness, hollowness, don’t-give-a-fuck-ness, there is a serious lack of motivation to do anything.

#2 Everything seems impossible (even small stuff)

When you get stuck, everything is a struggle. Even if you’re off at five, and you usually play video games till midnight, you still complain about going to the gym and lack of time even though you’re getting fatter and fatter.

When you don’t have enough money for something (a vacation, an engagement ring, a new toy, a new car, etc.) you don’t have the mental energy to figure out how to earn it and pay for it. You just complain, you whine about how difficult life is and how you just wish you were earning more money.

This lack of energy and zest is closely tied in with #3

#3 You rationalize mediocre circumstances as being “just the way it is”

What does lack of energy + everything seeming impossible = ?

A chronic cynic.

“This is just the way life is.”

They become a person who has no concept outside of the brutal “realities” of life. Outside of the normal paradigm for most: suffering in a job, deadly commutes, boring leisure time, jack-shit on the weekend, and an average spouse.

When your car breaks down, you lose your job, and your wife divorces you  - all on the same day – these kind of people say stuff like “That’s life.”  It’s like their emotional intelligence has vaporized into thin air.

They are far beyond entertaining silly stuff like “dreams,” “passions,” and other stuff.  Sometimes they entertain the idea of making a big life change like moving abroad, traveling long-term, or quitting their job – but they almost never follow through.

They’ve given up.

#4 Your intuition isn’t working (you don’t feel anything)

Another symptom that you feel stuck is that you’re emotionally semi-dead.

When you ask people like this what they would rather be doing, or where they’d rather be, they just say “Anywhere but here.”

It’s like you’ve numbed yourself to reality to try and cope with it better – higher lows, and lower highs, but more consistency you tell yourself.

But here’s the problem when you’re no longer connecting with your intuition – you end up doing stupid stuff because you think you should, and not because of how it makes you feel. Like trying to increase your earning potential in a job you already hate.

#5 You get pissed off over the smallest, most inconsequential things

To me, this has always been a symptom of being stuck, or feeling trapped in the rat race. You just have to vent. You have to get that angry bitter shit out of you, so you start cursing at drivers in traffic, calling the lady in line at Walgreens a bitch, and throwing mini tantrums whenever possible.

Ever met someone who complains about traffic, kicking over the dog bowl, the new co worker, spilling their coffee, being out of shape, the dog shitting on the rug, some rude person in the coffee line, the weather, etc. etc. every day?

Complaining is the most exciting part of their day – and it’s just about the only attention they get.

There’s one thing about getting stuck though – it’s easy and will happen naturally unless you invest time into not getting stuck.

How to Get Un-Stuck

There’s one important characteristics of getting stuck.

It’s all in your head.

Ever heard stories of kids who are way bigger than their dads but are still getting beaten and abused by them?

Heard stories of genius ghetto kids that stay stuck achieving nothing because their mom called them “lousy pieces of shit that will go nowhere” ?

Know someone who has been bullied their entire lives, and still, as a grown man, won’t stand up for anything?

It’s because our minds have been trained to behave certain ways and believe certain things.

It’s like your momma always said “Stop calling your brother an idiot! Or else one day he’ll think he is one!”

And it’s kinda like that saying “If you think you can and if you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Getting unstuck is all about getting your head right.

#1 Decide you want to be writing a better story

It amazes me how many people love wallowing in their own misery. I’ve spoken with friends deep in the rat race about moving abroad for a year.

I always tell them it’s a great way to jumpstart your motivation and get some energy back.

More than one has given me the “Ehhh that sounds like a lot of work, I have an apartment, car, job… mumble…mumble…” response.

In other words, fear. Laziness. Mental laziness more than anything.

Are you honestly willing to put in the effort?  The idea of suffering and slowly dying in a life you hate has got to be worse than the pain of busting your ass to fix it.

#2 Move across the world (seriously)

Some people need a real kick in the groin to get started. And some people need a massive change of scenery, a massive transitional period, to help get them motivated again and excited about life. Scary but true.

Although I’ve previously said that quitting your job to travel won’t solve shit (regarding personal/life issues), there are fewer things that can jumpstart people’s motivation and happiness more.

When I got my first real full-time job in 2009 I had a pretty sweet gig. I worked 8:30-2:30. I made 50k a year. There was almost no commute. It was little to no stress. I knew my stuff well.

But after 9 months I felt painfully stuck and limited. Life was beginning to suck, and everyday was the same. old. routine. My friends all became boring old bastards and there wasn’t anything to talk about but gossip and bullshit.

So I made a logical decision. I moved to China! 

So it wasn’t that logical. But it wasn’t scary at all. Scary to me was sitting at a goddamn desk forever. That terrified the shit out of me, so I dropped everything and left.

The main reasons I suggest moving abroad somewhere cool are as follows:

  1. You will have the most fun you’ve ever had, meeting new people, learning a language or culture, eating new food, and traveling to new places
  2. You will no longer be stuck in a rut or daily schedule. There will be a massive amount of new information to process and new stuff to check out
  3.  It will bring you back to life — that hollow apathetic feeling about life will vaporize as soon as you step off the plane on your new adventure. Suddenly you’ll feel things again – fear, excitement, anxiety. You’ll be alive again
  4. It will jumpstart your motivation and revive your zest for life
Many travelers I’ve met either went abroad long-term because A) They’re job sucked or they couldn’t find one, or B) They just got out of a long-term relationship and needed to get out.
I honestly recommend dropping everything and going – if you’re stuck, sick and tired of everything, and want an adventure.
And no, it’s not irresponsible. No it’s not terrifying.  If you’re in a mediocre life with a mediocre job and a mediocre boyfriend/girlfriend and you’re tired of all of them, what is there to lose? You’ve already lost.
Right now also happens to be a hot time to teach English just about anywhere in the world. Many of us will also make better salaries teaching English abroad than our salaries at home even working in business or marketing companies.

If teaching over in Asia interests you there are a couple ways to find jobs:

  1. Check out the resources on Dave’s ESL Cafe. 
  2. If you’re interested in teaching in Beijing, go to Thebeijinger.com and post an ad in the Job/English teaching forum. You’ll have 15 emails in 24 hours.
  3. Japan also has a highly competitive (and highly compensated for) English teaching program called JET

#3 Downsize and kill yo debt (get un-trapped by your stuff)

Another trap that many of us put ourselves in is the following scenario:

Girl gets good job. Girl gets cool apartment. Girl has nothing to do with life since money made is in excess of monthly expenses. Girl gets bored. Girl has no hobbies.

Girl starts buying stuff (Furniture, clothes, new car). House is filled with stuff. Girl continues to work because of the credit card bills she has to pay off from her stuff. Girl is stuck.

Girl gets unhappy and want to quit job and move. Girl can’t quit job because girl owes lots of money.

There’s one thing that bothers me about young people.  The young people who fake having money.

I’ve know a guy who people assume is making “mad money” because he has a house and drives a Mercedes and he’s not 30.

Guess what – there are a lot of poor ghetto people who like looking rich too, and they drive a mercedes all while making 30k a year.

My friend the bartender can buy a new car too, but he’ll be paying it off for the next 5 years too.

It’s pretty ironic because these people give the illusion of financial freedom – more money than they need – but they’re actually way more stuck than most of us non-mercedes driving people.

What a lot of my friends call “responsibilities” are actually dumbass financial decisions where they put themselves into debt willingly.

Unless you have some life and death illness, getting rid of debt should be your #1 priority for anyone that plans on being un-stuck.

Which brings us to the last one –

#4 Understand the rat race

As soon as you get your first job you get a nice little slap in the face lesson about the rat race.

You’re stuck in the rat race when you barely make enough to get by.

It’s not really surprising that 20 somethings are obsessed with money and success, because most of us have a severe lack of money and success.

Making $25k a year and then paying for gas, a $700/month apartment, a food leaves just about $2.50 left in your checking account. That’s to buy the bullet and rent the gun.

So for the next 10 or 20 or 40 years we dutifully work our way up to a little more financial security, or in our heads that’s what we tell ourselves. But we get so stuck in paying bills mode we don’t even sit back for two seconds to think of what we really want to do.

You end up like a bunch of my friends who take the highest paying job, every time, and take certifications to increase their earning potential at jobs they already hate.

You’re also stuck when you don’t listen to #3 and your purchasing stuff and incurring debt for things like a new car or house. You’re screwing yourself (if it’s freedom you crave) because you just locked yourself into a situation where you have to be paying bills consistently to get rid of the debt.

So how do you get out?

Often, people work long hard hours at jobs they hate to earn money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

- Nigel Marsh

Getting out of the rat race basically gives you a few options. #1 Is to earn more. If you earn 50k and only spend 25k, you’ve got some leeway.

The other thing is to downsize. When I moved to China I was still making 50k, but I was making that in a 2nd world country where the standard of living meant I could pay $300 /month for a nice apartment in a university area of Beijing.

Plenty of pro athletes or famous actors end up broke because even though they make millions of dollars they’re also partying like a celebrity. Wayne Newton, Mike Tyson, Michael Vick, Evander Holyfield and many many other extremely wealthy people went broke due to moronic money allocation.

So you either earn more than you need or you downsize.

Or you create a lifestyle that permits you to spend your time how you want now. That’s kind of the point of a lifestyle business that I talk about lot, so I won’t go into a lot of detail (check out Corbett Barr’s post on Lifestyle Biz Vs. Startup).

The point is clear though: Don’t get stuck.

A generation of stuck and lost adults

The other day, someone I know was talking about her son. She told me she was starting to see him get stuck, she was starting to see less brightness in his eyes, he was looking sleepy – not physically – but sort of that soul weariness that comes from psychologically bearing some burden you don’t want to.

“I just want to shake him and say wake the fuck up! Life has so much out there for you,” she told me.

Getting stuck is easy.

It happens without you realizing it, until one day you wake up and say “how the hell did It ever end up like this… this is not where I envisioned myself. This is not the life I wanted…”

So just remember: once you’re stuck, it gets insanely hard to wake up and find that fire again unless something or someone wakes you up from the dream. For many of us, that never happens.

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{ 111 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Kimball October 10, 2012 at 12:08 am

Really great points. Honestly, being “stuck” is akin to being depressed, and it’s super hard to get out out of that state of mind. Great post and ideas. Alex.

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Alexander Heyne October 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

Yep, totally agree Lamiki ! The two often go hand in hand, as I unfortunately had the pleasure to find out myself ;) . It becomes a self fulfilling thing.. you feel resistance in every direction that you go and it’s almost impossible to get moving. You either have to force yourself to struggle and find, or find a way out of the slump with less resistance.

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Victoria October 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Having got ‘stuck’ in my twenties, I can totally relate to this post and whilst I didn’t need to move abroad to get unstuck, I did make some major changes to my life. Along with getting rid of debt, I’d say that letting go of my ‘status anxiety’ was one of the biggest factors in getting unstuck – I stopped comparing myself to other people (where they got their degree, what job/car/house they had etc) and started living life on my own terms. I’d choose happiness over success any day!

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Alexander Heyne October 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Hey Victoria –

Haha I hear that! I’ve had to do the same myself. It’s easy to get caught comparing yourself to the Jones’ especially when most of our parents encourage that.. they’ll tell us stuff like “look at John, he’s making it, he moved out, he’s making a good income.” A lot of parents actually encourage that competitive behavior which blows my mind.

I think that’s some wise advice and it hits us all some day.. ultimately you only look at yourself int he mirror at the end of the day. So what’s the point in comparing anyway?

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Mia November 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Great post! But what about people who live in third world countries? I don’t have a degree yet and so I can’t apply to any ESL programs abroad which is a major c***block (in the professional/academic/learning sense) plus these programs require one to be a native English speaker. My English is quite good in fact its almost native because I’ve always studied at English medium schools and my accent is good too, and I’m also learning Japanese, Korean and Mandarin so whenever I thought of applying for an esl thing for Korea, Japan or China I would never meet the criteria which sucks big time.

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Alexander Heyne November 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

Hey Mia –

I think that most of my writing will make sense to people in a similar situation as myself, and sometimes in the same socioeconomic status. Yeah sometimes the english programs won’t take you, even if your English is perfect, just because ytou aren’t a native speaker. Is there any way for you to get a scholarship to study abroad?

Also — I suggest trying to apply anyway and ignoring the criteria. If they don’t “believe” you, have a skype conversation with them to show them how good your English is (it looks perfect on paper to me). People always get around criteria and qualifications anyway by using connections, so shoot me an email if you do want to study in either China or Korea – I have connections in both countries.

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Mia March 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Thanks I will surely try do that. I love your blogs, keep milking!!!

laurence March 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Wow my situation is quite similar to yours Mia, I’m a native french speaker who prefers to express herself in english. I’m learning japanese, mandarin and korean, and I don’t have a degree. I found out that it’s perfectly possible to go to these countries to learn even if you don’t qualify for the programs, perhaps by getting a more menial kind of job that won’t pay as much but will be a great learning opportunity. (for Japan anyways, I haven’t checked other countries yet)

The reason I’m not doing it myself is because I need to get out of debt first, I’m also considering getting a degree but that will also equal more debts…It’s not going to be an easy path but i believe it is possible.
I won’t give up and neither should you :)

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Alexander Heyne March 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Absolutely,

You definitely do not need qualifications to teach English in Asia (Depends where). In China, it’s all under the table, and I hate to say it, but as long as you are white and speak native English, they trust you. They also prefer if you’re American (for whatever reason).

Japan and Korea are more strict – but hey I’m sure there’s someone who can hook you up ;)

Even if you go to one of those places legit on a program, you can always teach on the side for extra cash. In China, I was actually making more than I do at my job here in America… makes you wonder why I left! Haha. Living in a 2nd or 3rd world country making a 1st world country’s income? = Gold.

Mia March 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Thank you so much for the encouragement Laurence! I won’t give up no matter what and I hope you too quickly get out of debt and follow your dreams because nothing is impossible!!!

Laurence March 6, 2013 at 11:49 pm

yeah getting rid of debt is priority for me…the thing is I wonder how long I’ll have to kept working the 9 to 5 nightmare until it’s fully paid. Also I wonder IF I can continue working it.

I’ve been wanting to move abroad for while now, to Japan specifically. but debt/lack of money and a new found boyfriend are kinda getting in the way…what to do, what to do.

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Alexander Heyne March 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hey Laurence –

Hey man, I would suggest reading Ramit Sethi’s stuff — he’s amazing for getting people out of debt and earning more money. http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/

Well hey – if you’ve got a job over there, what’s holding you back? And if you’ve got a new boyfriend then it’s obviously a personal choice to stick with him, or head off to Japan.

Ciao ciao !
Alex

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laurence March 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Thanks Alex, I’ll check that site out, but to be honest it looks a bit shady at first haha.

Thanks for your encouragment to Mia :D

By the way, there’s also possibilities in Japan to do other work than teaching english. It might not seem the best but I feel it’s the best way to learn a language when you pretty HAVE to learn it to function.

I’ve seens opportunities to work in ski or beach resorts which were interesting, you can also do volunteer work in farms and learn about eco farming. And I found restaurants that wanted to hire foreigners specificly, for exemple french speakers to work in a french restaurant.

I also suggest looking for japanese pen pals for language exchanges online, I’ve made some friends that way who are ready to let me stay for free when I visit, very useful and fun!

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Alexander Heyne March 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Hahaha don’t worry Laurence, Ramit is legit and quite a smart (And successful guy).

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Mia March 13, 2013 at 6:50 am

Yeah I’ve been flirting with the idea of doing volunteer work and working at farms as well for the past few months, it seems fun and it seems better than a home-stay because home-stay agencies charge a lot. Even though I won’t be getting paid but I will at least get lodging for free.

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Matt A. March 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

WoW! This is exactly how I feel . =(. I’m 21 and it’s a nightmare. The only difference is that I have no job (never had one), no degree (still 3 semesters to go at Business Administration School, but I hate it), and live with my parents. It’s frustrating.

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Alexander Heyne March 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hey Matt –

Haha don’t worry! I’ve been there too. The most important thing is to DO SOMETHING – ANYTHING. It will never change if you don’t. And yea, unfortunately when you feel stuck it is insanely hard to get anything done. Just force yourself – for example 4-6 pm every day, go talk to people you know who can help you find a job. Stick it out !

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Matt A. March 27, 2013 at 10:43 am

Hi there,

I’ve decided to leave college, at least for a while, and spend the rest of the year meditating and exploring new fields. It’s not common for children to leave home before they are 25 here in Brasil, so I’m good for a few years, I guess.
Don’t worry, I’m going to do something with all the free time. =P. Music and drama keep popping up in my head and I think I’ll follow that trail for a start.
This website is great and thank you for the advice.

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James Tipton April 9, 2013 at 12:34 am

I was struggling, feeling stuck, living in a tent after college. I knew I didn’t want to conform to the nine to five living. I ended up traveling across the country looking for the answer, looking for someone to guide me, have faith in me. The truth of my revolutionary turnaround, and how I made my transformation is a mind blowing experience, let me share with you my transformation. Read more about it on my website.

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Allan April 29, 2013 at 12:45 am

Although I found this somewhat enlightening, it also pertains more to already attaining some sort of success. I have been out of a job making 80K yearly for 4 years now had a house a car. Now I currently make 27k a year while trying to pay off my home and car, debts on line of credit. My life has been a mess. I can’t move I can’t do anything. All that can be said is that it is stressful 24/7 for 4 years now. Sometimes there really is now way out. You can be permanently stuck.

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Yess. T May 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I feel the same way! I got married at 21 got my “dream job” at 22 as a Paralegal, drive a nice car but I’m not happy. I wake up everyday and say to myself “whats wrong with you” but i just can’t help to feel down. I feel like there has to be more to life … I just don’t where to start….

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Alexander Heyne May 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hi Yess -

Your problem is not an uncommon one for people in the 21st century. Have you read the manifesto yet? That’s a good place to start.

http://milkthepigeon.com/your-ebook-download/

Best,
Alex

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Rekoj May 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm

In my situation getting stuck has been my worst enemy…you hurt yourself because we feel we are at fault of what is going on and when we get in the mess we’re in we are the first to say we deserve it…this becomes something we know to do well with our selfs and before we realize it we then have victims around us, this could be the ones we care for, we hurt those who we love then keep’m away because we’re not proud of what we have become. I left my family, stood away because I thought that was the best way to help me from keeping them from getting hurt from my existence.. They never knew I lived in my car I got in to drugs; I was actually doing the best success in my life to their story of me.. My smile always fool them nevertheless they knew the truth of me having to have to go back 2009 new years eve to my home a car under a havey rain all to myself. That night was good There I share what was going on leaving my gay partner quitting my jobs just to move away and never returning to the area and not having that as an excuse to go back and see him. But having a bill compromise with him sucked because I had to keep up every month with a car payment he had co. Sing for me and my eagle wasn’t about to let him know that I was shit with out him. I had to keep up with that.. Further on the whole simed to get bigger and I simed to be alright with it but deep inside some said this ain’t me..

To get out I had to be honest…
That meant being sick of what I had been doing to myself..I felt this way because everything wasn’t what I was used to around me and that reason was because I hid myself from even who I was trying to become anyone else but me…Soon before I realize it I lost me and thought being the rebel I created was better than who I left behind..my true essence..when this happends is hard to find it again and believe me you will one day want it back and some just don’t find it anymore I saw friends who aren’t here anymore go by with out strength to get back!

Getting back means forgiving yourself first then giving yourself what you deserve and that is love..he thing for sure is hard to know what love is after this much disaster….but it all starts with the humble heart and God is the love who will help if you really are suffering.. Then strength comes and being stuck is not your problem only…..

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Tamara May 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Very nice article.
I did just what you did about 6 years ago. I met someone who lived in Australia so I just up and moved here.

It has been really exciting because I had a goal to work towards. Or multiple goals. First Perm Residency and then citizenship. Getting a good job. Getting a better job that paid insane amounts of money.

Just moved again to another state but so far I am not enjoying it that much.

We got stuck with a money pit house that we are now unloading and that in itself is a huge relief.

I am feeling stuck again or just dissatisfied or something.

I feel trapped in a career that I am not sure how to get out of. I don’t like being broke. My health has been not so great too. I’m married but he is pretty slack with work.

I have a few ideas but not sure what to do next?

I thought about going back to school and getting a degree that I always wanted.

I’m torn between doing computer science, psychology or fine arts.

I really don’t want to work in an office anymore. I’m just tired and the last gig I had got migraines most every week.

I am doing something anything each day but it is still not clicking for me?

Advice?

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Alexander Heyne May 22, 2013 at 11:38 am

Hi Tamara,

Which career option would give you the opportunity to not work in an office, but also provide for yourself? Which interests you the most?

I’d suggest finding the intersection of those three things.

Best,
Alex

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Courtney May 22, 2013 at 5:26 am

Thank you for this article Alex.

I’ve been struggling with a type of depression/ apathy towards my life at the moment. This post has really helped me to put everything back into perspective and remember all of the joys and growth travelling has previously brought me.

It’s also refreshing to find a blog that focuses the younger generations. We need all the help/inspiration we can get!

Looking forward to reading more of your work.

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Alexander Heyne May 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hey Courtney,

You’re welcome, I hope it helped :)

- Alex

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magnolia May 30, 2013 at 11:00 pm

firstly, sorry if my english isn’t perfect.
wouw reading your articles definitely help me, i have been taking medication for depression on and off for 4 years, and the shit that i have been though just make me feel like so bad about myself, i feel so ugly as my toes. feel stuck and i have no idea what i’m supposed to do with my life anymore. i’m 31 and a mom …i feel like running in the circle and there’s no way out. i just want to get out of this toxic relationship, this is really torturing me! i just want to move on and be happy! i have been stuck with this man who treating like i’m nothing, make me feel so ugly, i’m stuck with this toxic marriage, wish i can get out of it…

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Alexander Heyne May 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hi Magnolia,

So what’s keeping you in that toxic relationship?

– Alex

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magnolia June 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

hi, alex. thank you for respon. thank you so much, i really appreciate it. talking to you, will help me through this nightmare. he abused me,mentally and once he choked me when i was carry my son. he keep saying that i’m already fucked up, well i guess i am f#cked up since i was 5 yo. my life is just like nightmares, well i was molested by few guys when i was 5 years old, i tried to suicide when i was 9. then finish my uni i moved to bali island, then i met this guy and we married, i thought my life would be different. first year of marriage was a hell, i did leave him so many times, but we always back together for our son. but now i’m feed up, it’s just too much, i can’t live with a man who did those shit to me, too painful. i don’t know how many times i cries this month. i just don’t know what to do anymore. in this point, i just had enough, i have this memories in my head and i can’t move on. i’m stuck, i just want to walk away from all this,u know. i’m 31 years old, i’m sure my life is not ending yet. i just want him to let me go. so i can starting my life , because to see him everyday is nightmares. i feel so ugly, feel so worthless. and reading your articles really helps me.

Caged Bird June 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I’m stuck in my fifties. I HATE my job, because it’s crappy and pays $30,000 a year. Luckily, I’m single with no dependents, I have no debt and only 1 credit card that I use sparingly and is mostly paid off. I have a little money in savings – a little over $3000, plus a 401K plan that presently is worth over $60,000. I have no house – I rent apartments. What the hell should I do? I’d like to move to Florida or California or ANYWHERE out of the Midwest, where I’ve lived all of my life. Any tips for me?

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Alexander Heyne June 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hey Caged Bird,

So what’s stopping you from moving anywhere? Why not move? Why not travel? You have nothing holding you down –

Especially when you’re solo, what’s preventing you from finding a better job, anywhere?

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Caged Bird June 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Thank you, Alexander. Your reasoning seems obvious, but sometimes the obvious gets drowned out by worry and fear. I’m going to start planning my escape.

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Adam June 25, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Lol, This just sums my life up. I’m having a very hard time getting my mind out of this depressed, lazy, and un ambitious state. I have so many aspirations . I want to do it all. I did move across the world to Thailand to teach English and it was the most exciting time I’ve ever had. I had to come back to losing the job due to appearence and couldn’t find another one so again money became an issue. Now that I am back in the states things are worse than ever for me. I can’t even count how many times I’ve stood over the edge of a cliff/building, held a knife to my wrist ,held a toaster over the bathtub or hid behind an object to jumo infront of a car. Honestly, I feel Im going to be miserable to grave.

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Alexander Heyne June 28, 2013 at 10:35 am

Adam,

Just remember that coming back from a trip/life like that abroad is very hard. I’ve done it multiple times and was always very unhappy after coming back. The phase will pass – and until then, you need to spend as much time as possible re-creatin your new life. For me, I had to join new clubs (an entrepreneur club, and a judo gym), I made new friends by hanging out at local cafes and going out a bit more, I started dating someone in the new place and got a new job. You really have to start investing time into building roots in your new place – I promise it gets better. Don’t give up

– Alex

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Josh B June 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I’m 20 and I feel like this couldnt apply more to my situation, it is as if im caged by my own fear of failure and lack of direction. I feel that this advice will help me out a great deal, thank you for the post.

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Alexander Heyne June 28, 2013 at 10:41 am

You’re welcome Josh !

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john June 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

hey magnolia you are not worthless or ugly. im sorry for all the terrible things that happened to you as a child and i hope you have a wonderful life. :)

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Rob July 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

I just want to say that everything you said and quoted is absolutely true. I have experience that coincides with this article and would like to tell you about it and maybe a question at the end. I myself feel like there is no way out for me, and I have tried many ways to get out. Too get my point across, I feel I should start from the beginning.
I have seizures and have had them since I was 5 years old. They started because I reacted to the MMR shot and got the measles and encephalitis, which is swelling to the brain, which in turn cause brain damage and caused me to have seizures. It has been 21 years since that situation and throughout that time I have had 2 brain surgeries, changed my medication 10 different times

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Rob July 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

and have not given up. While having hundreds of seizure, I still did college and got a AAS degree in diesel heavy equipment technology and a BS degree in management, but have been unable to hold a job. Mainly because I had a seizure at work and the boss said, “take a hike, I dont want to be around a seizure freak.” So in the last year, I have lost 4 jobs because of that problem and have been coming to a point in my life that I cant get out. Mainly because people are ignorant and I cant hold a job even though I am a hard worker. So at this point in time I feel like I am at a point in life where I cant get out even though I have tried everything. I dont really know which way to turn because every time I try and get ahead, something bites me in the ass and I end up loosing everything I have worked for. I just want to know your point of view on which way to get my head out of being stuck and not going anywhere in life because I cant hold a job or have multiple other problems that always bite me in the ass. Like I said, I have been trying to get out of this situation all my life, but in the end nothing has ever worked out, even though I try and stay positive and look at the bright side of things. I am at a point in life now where I need someone to point in the right direction.

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Alexander Heyne July 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hey Rob!

It may be difficult for you to hold a job, but just imagine if you started an internet business? What if you had no boss, no one to worry about, and no one to potentially be afraid of working with you? There’s always a creative way to find solutions.

- Alex

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Lee Ying Njoo July 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Nice writing! I did all that; , quit my job on the spot for both reasons mentioned, moving to Beijing for 3 years. Difference was, I didn’t make 50k a year but earned same or less money than an average chinese. Teaching English was not sth I did but for everyone who did earned sweet money. Still Beijing was a blast altogether with the young poor bumbs from Europe. Life is more fun with less money. You appreciate small things. Without having a goal moving won’t work but only helps for a short time.

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Alexander Heyne August 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

Haha small world! I agree it only works for a short time before you begin wondering “what’s next?”

What are you up to now?

- Alex

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Tammy August 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

This was a good thing for me to read. It really is in my head. I have felt stuck for years now and step by step its been getting better. It helps that I have a beautiful 2 year old, but my problems were my own. I need a hobby! I need to be involved in the world and love myself again. This needs to happen for myself so I can radiate positive vibes to my son and my husband. Its amazing the power we have as individuals. Its just going to take work and persistence. So, im finally taking charge of my life. I’m getting myself unstuck! :)

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Alexander Heyne August 2, 2013 at 9:12 am

Awesome Tammy! Let me know how it goes :)

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ImSpongebobReady August 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Hey man,

Well, I loved the article and your manifesto and those are just what I needed. I’m in a slump right now where I don’t have the ambition to do much of anything, I mean I’ve only been alive 21 years and nothing really excites me anymore, its like I’m an old man, who has seen it all and is now callused. I love adventuring, I worked for a harp maker one summer, I’ve hitch hiked, but I always felt I should be working towards something. Funny thing is is that because of that thinking I’ve actually been so horribly stuck/lazy/confused on what to do that I’ve done nothing I’ve wanted to for the past six months!

So going off the adage that birds of the same feather flock together, I was wondering if you knew of a website or something that has places that are non-traditional where you can go to grow and learn. I know this sounds a lot like college(:P), but I’m looking for something more off the beaten path. I search the web like Arthur looking for the Grail but I feel I’m just looking in the wrong places.

I love the adventure but I want to do it for a reason. I need a Mount Doom to my Ring, or an Oz to my yellow brick road. I’m still confused, but I’m not going to let that stop me anymore.

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Alexander Heyne August 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Hey there -

Are you referring to job-search sites that are unconventional, or just “find your tribe” kind of sites?

- Alex

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Hey August 11, 2013 at 7:49 am

I’m just a student, but I feel all the things mentioned here. How am I supposed to get “un-stuck” from my situation when I still rely on my parents for my education? And I can’t support myself?

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Alexander Heyne August 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

Hi Hey,

So why not finish your education first?

- Alex

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Anonymous Freak August 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Yo.
So, I would like to share my story and hopefully manage to gain some perspective from your feedback.
I am 21 years old. I believe that I am quite intelligent and capable (in many respects) – but regardless of my capabilities, I am pretty much stuck. I have been stuck for years. In fact, I have been stuck since high school, caught in a perpetual bout of suspended animation.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not depressed. I am not lazy. On the contrary, I am highly passionate, and have a profound yearning to learn and grow… but it seems as though the trajectory of my growth is directing me nowhere.
I studied art (specialising in contemporary music) during the latter portion of high school (an ‘art school’), and I was able to attain the status of top student throughout the entire duration of my studies. I worked hard and practiced my ass off – so hard as to cause myself to suffer a clinical breakdown.
I began to hate music, having to study music. All of my teachers were sour about the industry, giving nothing but negative feedback about their lives and experiences. I developed a romantic inclination (an ‘into the wild’ type of vibe) and yearned to experience something more sublime, profound, ‘real’. I ended up attempting suicide and being institutionalized, and after pulling through joined a technical university in order to further my musical studies (I didn’t want to study music, but it was my only option – academic departments would not accept me due to my specialisation in musical subjects during high school).
I did well in university, and many of my peers seemed to respect me for my musical knowledge and ability. However, I still longed for something more, and gradually lost interest in music, getting more involved with philosophy and meditational practices. I ended up reading philosophical classics more often than I practiced my instrument or studied my course work. I came to admire Nietzsche, Zen, Deleuze, DeLanda, etc, and decided that I wanted to pursue philosophy (ultimately desiring to become a lecturer or professor).
So, after my second year of musical studies at university, I left, but was not accepted into the department of humanities (I am sorely limited by my certification). Thus, I joined a Buddhist monastery and lived a seminary student for a year (practicing meditation, studying philosophy and Chinese language, immersing myself deeply into a profound existential adventure); but my mother would sometimes call me and tell me that it scared her that I didn’t have a ‘proper’ matric, that I couldn’t get a degree, and out of fear I left the monastery to study for an academic matric through Cambridge.
I am almost done with my matric now, and am deeply in love with a wonderful partner. I have a great opportunity lined up for next year (a course in java programming, followed by a two year work contract) – but I am really uneasy.
The college I am studying through is terrible, and I am afraid that I might fail a subject, and will therefore not qualify for an exemption. Even if I do the java course (entrance into the course was based on aptitude, not qualification or experience), I will have trouble finding employment without a ‘proper’ matric.
I don’t know what to do. Its all so complicated, and there are many details that I have had to exclude from this post.
I sometimes feel like killing myself. I feel like a burden on my family. I feel hopeless and destined for perpetual failure. The worst aspect of it all is that I really love this world, I really am passionate, I really want to live and thrive (even if my lot in life turns out to be modest). I just want to be able to support myself, to not rely on my parents. That is all. I just want this shit to end. I feel that I have so much to give, but cannot find a channel to work through. I am blocked at every angle.
I cannot study what I want to. I cannot find work. I feel fucked, utterly diminished – I just don’t know what to do.
If it weren’t for my beloved, I would just ‘drop out’ and become a monk, or a homeless vagabond, or another case of suicide – but that is not what I want… I want to push through and form a part of this great confusion, this postmodern nightmare of the 21st century. I want to help people, enrich lives, enhance experience.
But, alas, I am fucked.
There is nothing here, and I don’t know what to do.

Jenna Bonnichsen September 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Hey Alex,

Your website is very intriguing and curious. Could I ask you what school you taught for in China? I’m interested in this opportunity, yet I don’t want to get into a horrible situation because I picked a private school with too many demands….or whatever. If you could experience living in other country again, how would you do it so that you didn’t have to teach English? I lived in Scotland for a few months while I was studying dance movement psychotherapy and it was amazingggg besides the whole graduate school part. Haha. What advice would you give me for wanting to live in another country again as soon as possible?

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Alexander Heyne September 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Hi Jenna,

Actually I didn’t teach in China. I had about 10k saved up so I enrolled in an intensive language program to learn Chinese instead.

I would do exactly what I did – except it requires money saved. Worst comes to worst, see if you can get an in-country contact (or use linkedin) to find a “real job” and bypass the English bullshit haha.

- Alex

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Student-athlete September 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Hey Alex,
I’m a first time reader and thought the article was great. However I have some questions regarding my situation. I am 20 years old at a university on a football scholarship. This is my second year and I would say the “rat race” showed last year but is much much worse this year. I come from a good family that does well economically, which many of my team mates were not blessed with, which has led to a great sense of guilt (but I will get to that soon). The race reached its low (current) when I was put on scout team again while nearly all of my peers were not. At this time my classes have become overwhelming. I’m in a very deep rut of football classes football classes with about 2 hours off (if not used for sleeping or studying). I have a few really good friends from the team but little to no time to hangout with them, and when I do I feel they can see the “tiredness of the soul” you mentioned. Despite the fact that I acknowledge the beauty of life, I gradually feel I am becoming more and more cynical because of my entrapment in the expectations of coaches/teachers/friends. I have a long term relationship that became became long distant when we went to different schools (4 hours away), I am still deeply in love with her yet feel that I am letting her down. It’s hard to talk on the phone until late at night due to the sleep I need to make it through the day, let alone with enthusiasm. I feel like she does not understand why I can’t do this because she is not in my position. The coaches/team constantly instill the “all in mentality”, and I see how blessed I am with the situation I was born into; how easy my life has been compared to some teammates and feel guilty for wanting to quit sometimes. If those whomhave had much harder lives can do it, I have no excuses for quitting.
A lot of the things on your list are out of reach for me without quitting and losing my scholarship (which although I feel trapped in the team, practice is enjoyable and football is my passion). I feel there is not enough of me to give to meet everyone’s expectations while keeping my own freedom. Is there any advice you can give for my situation?

I apologize for the long post and honestly just finally telling someone makes me feel a little better.

Thank you,
Student-Athlete

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Alexander Heyne September 28, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Hey there -

Sorry I just missed your comment until now.

Here are my thoughts: in college, it’s not always easy to do what you want. You have less control over your life because sports (coaches) and school (teachers) largely determine it. My advice is to sit down and figure out what is truly important to you in school and in life. If what you’re doing doesn’t align with that.. it’s time to make a move. Sometimes it’s not easy and you’ve gotta push through, but don’t forget to use your brain too.

And just remember that old saying: The quickest way to make yourself miserable is to try to make everyone else happy.

Hope that helps!

ALex

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marco morales September 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

im currently lost and i want to wake up and get out of this deadly cycle, could anyone help me more like on a one on one helping? i want that fire to burn again so if thers anybody willing to help me out and get out of this state im in, please feel free to help me out , thanks. :)
-marco morales

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Alexander Heyne September 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

Hey Marco -

Well let me ask you this – what’s one thing you want to change? Is it your job? Your friends? Something else? Being specific has a remarkable way of making it a lot easier to change.

- Alex

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Sally October 24, 2013 at 1:03 am

This is crazy you cant just change your life. I tried and it left me unemployed and on the verge of homelessness. It is unfortunate , but the life lesson for me is stick to what you know and don’t take risks. If I had listened to common sense I wouldn’t be in the dead end that I created.

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Alexander Heyne October 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

You can’t just change your life? Do you really believe that? Just because it left you unemployed and almost homeless doesn’t mean you can’t. There are thousands and millions of other people that do change their life… and succeed.

“Stick to what you know and don’t take risks.” What an unfortunate life plan.

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Dale February 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

People shouldn’t be so quick to discredit Sally’s advice. I too tried to change my boring office life and it left me unemployed, holes in resume, shitty references, and having to move back home. I hate to say it, but common sense is recommended – find a lucrative path and stay on it. Invest your money in high-return ETFs (start with vanguard if you have no idea what I just said).

Following your curiosity and passion is something to do after you’re financially independent, not before. Pains you to hear that? Yeah, me too. Meee too.

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Alexander Heyne February 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm

No, dale, I completely agree.

I have a “safe secure day job” and then come home every night to another 3 hours of my passion, and I’m building that business. IMHO it’s worth it for some people to follow the safety and security route first so there’s less to worry about. Stress makes you make dumb decisions.

Jessica Lovejoy October 27, 2013 at 2:42 am

Great article. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes it helps simply to read that a person like myself is not alone in this struggle.

I know I’m luckier than many other recent grads my age. A lot of the scenarios you painted in this post IS my life. It’s comfortable and I should be happy with that. But it’s not enough.

I have a decent job. It’s in my field and doesn’t pay great, but I can afford to pay rent. So I’ve told myself that’s enough for now. But it’s been almost two years like this.

Tonight I woke up randomly with my heart beating fast that for the first time that my life, I may forever be stuck in this rut. So glad I found this post. It really made me “wake up” in a way.

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Alexander Heyne November 3, 2013 at 3:53 am

Hi Jessica,

Sounds a lot like your intuition kickin in! So what’s next for you? What do you know you need to do, no matter how scary, difficult or ugly?

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HJ October 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I think y0u should add “psychotherapy” to one of your possible solutions.

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Ian November 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Well I’m 50 , married 25 years , male , two kids with one in university and one 17 year old almost at university . I work out 6 to 9 hours a week , play ice hockey when I can and can still out skate most 25 year olds at the top of their game .
I have a hard time looking at my loud mouth out of shape and vulgar spewing wife let alone touch her . ( I die inside every time an attractive woman smiles at me)
I have a decent job that offers 8 weeks holidays a year and pays about $150,000.
The hours are longer than I like and comprise of nights and weekends but that’s the deal and the work is good and fulfilling at times .
I am very social .
Currently I would say I have zero friends ! Zero people I could call to go for a drink or conversation . My work hours just won’t allow me the same social time off as most of the rest of the world !
I am depended on to finance educations and maintain a home , I’m not moving to china to teach !
My background is in business and I have had many successful investments but my work is oil refining . I have the golden handcuffs and the golden parachute ! I’m not leaving the company at this stage of life
I travel to Mexico twice a year and the east coast every summer for a few weeks .
So why is it that nothing matters anymore ?
No more goals , no passion to Persue , except for one thing ! Love!
To truly share magic with a lady that adores me as much as I do her .
But my achillies heal is my health . For as much as I am in shape with cardio vascular I have the levels of testosterone lower than a 70 year old and the pharmacuidical replacements aren’t working ( 5 years now) . I suffer from ED due to a genetic deviation that has taken my normal high cholesterol and turned it into plaque again higher than a 70 year old !
Sports injuries are adding up and osteoarthritis has captured my right hip , locking it up at least 10 times a day . Pain from a torn rotator cuff and torn bicep tendon are constant companions and the non alcoholic fatty liver and now crohns disease is another reminder that I’m not 20 .
Oh and Viagra no longer works so I try cialas once a day which is decent so far !
I have the things money can buy and I get the time to enjoy it albeit alone or with a woman that reminds me more of Roseanne Barr than the girl I married !
So what do I want ? Well I did fall in love with a woman 10 years ago . We were of the same heart and mind and it was emotionally and spiritually the best life I ever knew !
We didn’t have sex , we didn’t need to , but I wish now that we had . I loved her and she loved me but I told her I wanted her to find a man younger than herself , a man that would healthy and fun for her lifetime .
It was devastating but I could nt break up the family so I let her go !
14 years and I still feel it every day .
She did find a younger man and they have been together for six years .
I don’t swear or drink or do drugs . I try to be the best I can and do my best !
I give money to people on the street and people in line at the coffee shop !
I have nothing to live for and no passion in my soul without a woman to love and cherish !
I can’t just leave and I can’t be “alive ” in this life !
Address this one , its not like your example !

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Alexander Heyne December 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Hi Ian,

Is it love you’re really looking for, or a meaningful life?

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Karolina November 14, 2013 at 8:51 am

Hi i am 21 completed my matric 2010 and m stuck @ home with no job and my parent cant afford to pay for my further studies, i am confused i dont know what to do

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Zayn Peerally November 16, 2013 at 4:18 am

I am a teenager, actually, but this post helped me a lot, thanks

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Zayn Peerally November 16, 2013 at 4:43 am

I feel quite lonely and very bored with my life and my parents dont understand what im going through they keep telling me thats just youth, teenage then everything is gonna be ok as if they didnt give a damn and this really enrages me, they supply basic needs but not my emotional needs. I have great difficulty in socializing with others of my age. i keep comparing myself with others.i do sports a bit. How to make life more fun. I know you will help. thanks.

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Terry January 7, 2014 at 4:40 am

Zayn, I’m sure your parents do care, but they might not quite understand what you are feeling inside. Are you able to sit down and explain it to them? Also, are you an Aspie (Asperger’s)? The hallmark of Asperger’s is difficulty in social relationships, especially with peers. It is a very common thing nowadays and nothing to be embarrassed about. Run a google search for Asperger’s and read the description. Many well-known, successful people are Aspies. Although it has challenges, it also has some very positive things. It is very common among engineers, so much so that some people call it “Engineer’s Syndrome.” If you are an Aspie, sometimes just knowing gives us that “Aha!” moment of understanding why we do the things we do or say the things we say. Getting evaluated by a professional in the field and obtaining a proper diagnosis (if, in fact, one is an Aspie) are very important. Best wishes to you.

Treyseph February 26, 2014 at 10:30 pm

I know I’m aspie, but not a successful one.

Zayn Peerally November 16, 2013 at 4:45 am

I feel quite lonely and very bored with my life and my parents dont understand what im going through they keep telling me thats just youth, teenage then everything is gonna be ok as if they didnt give a damn and this really enrages me, they supply basic needs but not my emotional needs. I have great difficulty in socializing with others of my age. i keep comparing myself with others.i do sports a bit. How to make life more fun. I know you will help. thanks.

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Alexander Heyne December 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

Hi Zayn,

Let me ask you this: what do you enjoy doing?

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caro November 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

so i jus typed on google search “move abroad escape mediocrity” and i arrived on this post. MUst say the author spoke my soul..like many of the people that have left comments below, am in a rut..its not as worse as its always been, so am confident i`ll get out and past this stage.
I have had one of the most lonesome childhoods and its done a good load of damage to my social life (assuming i have one). FOr as long as i can remember, ive feared commitment and finding myself in one of those situations that ultimately force your hand to “stay”. Even in my childhood i have never known how it is like to be carefree. Every

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Bec December 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Your article makes a lot of good sense. I’m 25 and definitely stuck in a rut, like you say. I had a crap paying job that I hated, but I decided to quit one day when it was destroying my happiness. I went to the other side of the country to work in a completely different job, and boarded with someone there. Turns out they were somewhat of a sociopath (eek!) so I came home, and a year and a half later here I am. No job, and difficulty finding one due to a foot injury (can’t stand for long periods of time), no hobbies, no money, no social life, not really any friends, and I have a debt. Pathetic, right? I know it’s all self inflicted too. I know I need to find a job but I’m worried it will make the injury worse, and also worried I’ll end up depressed like I was last time. I know if I find a job I can then save up, rent my own place in a new city, get new scenery like you suggest, maybe meet new people, and be happy again. But whilst I *know* all of this, I don’t know how to go about doing it. I’ve taken chances before – quit my job, moved to a new place, new job, put myself out of my comfort zone – and it all went spectacularly badly. Of course I know next time it might not. But it might… So how do I get out of being ‘stuck’? It all seems like catch 22 – I don’t have any money to get out and do things, so I end up feeling bored and down then lack motivation to do things. My day is spent applying for jobs and not being successful.
I am usually a pretty positive person. But I get to a stage where nothing works, so I feel pretty shit about it. Happiness is a state of mind, but when you’re ‘stuck’ it’s hard to get out.
Sorry for rambling, but your article made so much sense to me. It just didn’t give me the ‘magic answer’ on how to get un-stuck.

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Alexander Heyne December 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Bec,

You’re right. Getting stuck is a really shitty feeling and not easy. It was hard for me.

Here is my advice: Force yourself to take some kind of action. Action is what clarifies the mind and neutralizes depression. Also, take any job you can get. Having money and your time filled throughout the day will make you significantly less stuck.

You have to do what we all have had to do: start rebuilding your life.

Get a job so you have money for now, pick up a hobby and start making new close friends, get on the road and start rebuilding. If you aren’t motivated, force yourself, and the rut will be gone in 6 months.

And read this article I wrote: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/3-ways-to-rebuild-your-life-when-youve-hit-rock-bottom/

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Bec December 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm

“Get a job so you have money for now, pick up a hobby and start making new close friends, get on the road and start rebuilding. If you aren’t motivated, force yourself, and the rut will be gone in 6 months.”

You are right about this. But it is what I’m already doing, applying for jobs and getting no replies. I’m with recruitment agencies so I have an excellent resume and cover letter, and extensive assistance to find work. I think it’s the state of the job market, especially around here, that there are simply no jobs. I would happily move if I could (you mentioning moving to China on a whim got me inspired!), but of course you need money to do that. But at least now I feel much more motivated than I was. Now only if there were jobs to apply for…

Nikki December 30, 2013 at 9:52 am

So your article seems to describe what I’m going through. I think I’ve felt ‘stuck’ since I hit puberty! My upbringing was a bit chaotic, my father could be abusive, and my mother had awful self-esteem. I’ve grown up compulsively binging on shit food and hating myself. I suffered severe anxiety and panic attacks after a forced move to the US and 16 and had some behaviours which could be called obsessive-compulsive (always have and still do). That aside I always had this dream of ‘things getting better.’ By some miracle I got into university in the UK (I was bright but unfocused and lazy in school) but dropped out for a year after I started to feel completely overwhelmed and miserable with my life. I’m back studying now but once again I’m completely unfocused, fighting with myself to hand in some last minute attempt at assignments. I live with my partner but she’s unwell and I’m unhappy in the relationship though I’m trapped by my guilt, fear of being alone, and poor financial situation. I have gone through the odd jobs here and there and was actually enjoying my job and had something of a social life until the old overwhelming feeling came back and I just gave up out of sheer mental exhaustion. I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world but I seem to be riddled with apathy and laziness when it comes to working my way towards that goal. I spend the majority of my life in bed watching Netflix to avoid thinking about things. I don’t go around feeling sorry for myself though I’m, sure I did when I was younger. I just go around feeling either nothing or extreme irritability. I have some good days where I am almost over productive but they seem to come in short random bursts and followed by a ‘crash’. I am seeing my doctor for possible depression though I wouldn’t describe myself as melancholic and I tend to perk up if something dramatic or exceptionally good happens. I feel 90% of the time I’m selfish, lazy, and unpleasant and the other 10% I’m a glimpse of someone else. I’m scared of death so at no risk of suicide but in an ideal world I would exist as someone else. I want to appreciate what I have but I just don’t. I want to be kind and thoughtful towards others as much as possible but I’m not (not that I go out of my way to be cruel). Am I an abhorrent person or am I possibly unwell. What advice do you have that will get me out of this rut because right now I lack the means to just pack up and leave? How does one break a lifetime of bad habits without relapsing one day later? I know no one can motivate me but myself but any help would be much appreciated.

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Alexander Heyne January 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Hey Nikki,

Let’s start with this: What do you really want from life?

Best,
Alex

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preety January 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

Good piece ….. motivational. The first half I can relate to my situation. Second half I fell back to my “stuck life”……

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sarah January 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Dude, you’re writing a blog telling people that you recommend that they move to the other side of the f* world. Most people can’t do that. The answer lies within you people, you have to find a way to “escape” and “do something” or “be something” without actually moving or quitting your job. Go to some new places, talk to new people, volunteer, go hiking, exercise, do whatever you have to do to make yourself “free”.

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Alexander Heyne January 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Sarah,

Clearly it’s not for everyone. And I don’t suggest it as a long-term strategy, but sometimes taking a trip can clear your head – assuming you don’t just end up avoiding your problems once you come home.

“Most people” can’t and won’t do shit. I don’t write for most people.

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Trey Dennis January 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Sounds like me. Here’s my story (copy and paste from yahoo answer rants)

I’m 29 graduated a gpa well below 2.7 three and 1/2 years ago in the communications (too introverted for that field, only took it because I like movies, tv, and news), has aspergers (or high functioning autistic) and can network but its very frustrating, and now will be forever stuck with jobs or future options are dead end ones or would lead to career paths that either low paying or I would be miserable doing (sales, maketing). Telemarketing is easier, but its real sleazy. My interests are movies, animals, news, and physical science. Gpa is too low and got the wrong personality and location (living alone is really tough, unless I can find a roommate I can trust) for many of those career fields, and grad school is not a good option.Trade schools seems to be aimed only people wanting to work as a mechanic, plumber, accounting, mostly rural and small jobs. Someone once suggested starting a business, but someone either needs to invent something really profitable or at least have a partner that can network really well. Right now, I work at Mazzio’s and store custodian (no interest in a management career) and the only other jobs I can lead to fields I’m not looking for. I feel like I’m doomed to one those lifeless pawns that go through existing rather than truly living (Paraphrase Braveheart).
Your article reminds of me of trip back in 2010 to the Grand Canyon and California. I had a hard time enjoying it, because I felt empty and lifeless inside. I was almost numb to any joy or excitement. And I still feel that every once in a while. I’ll take control for a while, but something comes around and it sets off in me again. I’ll be myself over my failures, and feel like I already failed the game. I sometimes get annoyed by people’s misplaced or fake sincerity, and they’ll make this absurd suggestions (dog-grooming) that just infuriates me. Or just tell what have should have done scenarios (should have thought of this while in high school or before college) that I can’t change and are not helpful at all. And don’t you have to know the country’s language to teach English there?

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Alexander Heyne January 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Hey Trey – Nope you don’t have to know the local country’s language. And in fact, they often prefer that you don’t know the country’s language so that you can only speak in English :D

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Trey Dennis January 24, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Thank you.

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Alexander Heyne January 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Cheers Trey

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Trey Dennis January 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I still get depressed whenever people call me smart, because it reminds of my poor academic performance. Though I tend be more book smart than street smart, I don’t have as much confidence in my mental abilities as much as I used to. Any advice to get over this feeling?

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Alexander Heyne January 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Hey Trey,

So why do people call you smart? Clearly they see something !

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Ed January 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

Whilst I really appreciate that there is a lot of truth in what you say, the future is not really ours to see. If someone says, ‘I moved to China under this set of circumstances and this happened and it was all great’ then that doesnt apply to someone else. I made a similar move a couple of years ago and ended up in Sweden from the UK, which is a very hard country to make headway if you are not Swedish. Even a washing up job is very hard to get. I am trying to dig myself out of the hole of being here and get back to the UK, and pick up where i left off because this is the best case scenario without asking my parents to bail me out at the age of 41. Its nice to think that one can do anything but I planned as much as I could and it hasnt worked out. Maybe in a few years time I will be able to break away from corporate office jobs but in the meantime one must have the self respect to look after oneself. Its not just mentally ill people that end up on the streets, we are all a lot closer to that than we think.

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Alexander Heyne January 28, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Ed,

You are absolutely right. “Its not just mentally ill people that end up on the streets, we are all a lot closer to that than we think.” Serious words of wisdom here.

And you’re right – you can only plan so much in life. You never know how it will go.. until it goes.

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Destitute8 February 10, 2014 at 10:51 pm

There’s a much simpler way to get unstuck.
A well placed bullet through the skull. If it wasn’t so illegal, I’d start am assisted suicide business.

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Violet February 12, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I’m “stuck”, and I don’t know what to do with my life. I don’t know anything. And I can’t do anything about it because I’m only 13 and my mother will never leave this horrible town.

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Alexander Heyne February 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Hi Violet,

Why are you “stuck” – why not finish school first?

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Chandan February 15, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Hi am fucking man you like me

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mike February 26, 2014 at 8:08 am

Im 27 years old and im stuck. im just leaving my life backwards…i never went to college cuz i thought i was never intelectual enough for college,but i did finish high school…I had a kid rite after high school so i did the only thing thats gona give me income,getting a job..i stayed with a retail company for almost 7 years and that went to shit..after that my life just went down the crapper.. i have a part time job now that pays me shit,. im always broke,my parents bitch witch i went back to leaving with them ,my so call gf bitch,my baby mama bitch,im atleast 15,000 in debt.i have broken dreams, nothing ever goes rite life just sucks now and i tell myself things are gona get better but who am i kidding… but you just inspire me to get off my ass to look outside the box.. im glad i stumble across your web page.. i want to leave L.A. theres nothing here for me… excuse me for my bad grammar.

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Alexander Heyne February 27, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Hey Mike,

“i tell myself things are gona get better but who am i kidding… ”

Forget positive self talk. Start positive self action. Action trumps talk and thought every day. Action is the path out of depression, unhappiness, poverty, frustration, confusion. Action.

For you – I would suggest hustling bigtime – start studying how to get a higher paying job, negotiate a raise, or hustle on the side and freelance for more money. That’s what I’ve been doing for extra $$$ to make ends meet.

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ron March 1, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I am stuck….and no help here or anywhere online…its a joke…

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Alexander Heyne March 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Hi Ron,

What are you specifically stuck with?

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Hannah March 8, 2014 at 3:57 am

Dear Alex ,
I have a teenage daughter that I love more than anything in this world , that I would die for , that I would anything for to make her happy , and she knows that.
Now the problem is she keeps on gaining weight , and it really worrying me . She tries to lose weight but always the wrong way . I love doing yoga , but I feel so guilty even trying to be fit while she gets bigger everyday . So I am quietly piling up weight . Gym registration failed ,she didn’t even go for one day ! What is the best way to talk to teens ? If I suggest anything at all it will be automatically rejected … And I know it’s making her unhappy inside . She drinks a lot of coffee ! Lord I feel so guilty ! My happiness in my entire life has been about seeing others happy ! I don’t really need much .

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Alexander Heyne March 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Hi Hannah,

Ask her what she really wants, and ask her what’s bothering her. There’s likely an emotional or psychological reason – and she won’t use a gym membership because it’s just “admitting” that she has an issue. I would approach her in a really non-judgmental tone and just ask, “Hey what’s up? How have you been doing?” You’ll likely see that a lot comes up.

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Sadgirl March 9, 2014 at 4:07 am

Please don’t encourage people to move abroad and teach english. Those jobs are dead end one year contract jobs. And yes, you still get stuck in an 8 hour, 5 day a week rut. Sometimes you are so tired and exhausted you don’t feel like doing anything on the weekends. And you get anywhere from just 2-4 weeks off a year. So it’s not some fairytale lifestyle where you are traveling all the time and/ or having fun. Plus in places like Korea you will always be the foreigner. It can be especially hard for a single woman. You are called old when you are 30 years old. An unmarried woman at 28 and above are known as old miss or gold miss. Many Koreans are passive aggressive cruel racists and ageists. Job discrimination for teaching EFL starts as young as 35. I have definitely fell into a rut here and am
trying to get my depresses self into gear to leave next year. The apartments here are built like dungeons and Korea is a gray and depressing place overall with dark cold terrible winters. Many of the people here are miserable and if you’re an empath like me, you’ll absorb that dark mood.

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Alexander Heyne March 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Hi Sadgirl,

I don’t. And I’ve never lived abroad to teach English.

Also, just because you are in an unfortunate situation (by your standards) doesn’t mean others have to be. 2-4 weeks off a year isn’t bad though ;) In the US you get about 10 days.

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Ala March 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm

You dont think i want to do all the things that your suggesting, I DO!!! but with 0 money and 0 hope about money how the fuck am i gona do shit. This was stupid

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Alexander Heyne March 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

Ala,

What can you start doing to earn money on the side?

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JMC March 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I feel like this today. We do live below our means and are on track to be debt free in about 12 years (free of my student loan debt and home mortgage). I feel like I need a sabbatical, from the demands of work and extended relatives. I love the relatives but feel pretty claustrophobic in this life and would love to bust out and move away and reinvent myself. But I have my kids whom I love so much. I stay in this grind for them, to meet their needs for stability and consistency. I think my spouse is hating the grind too. We operate pretty well as partners but I think we’d bust out in completely different geographical directions if money and children weren’t a consideration. Maybe this is a midlife crisis.

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Melody Anderson March 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Your post really hit the spot with me. I was just lamenting to my mother (I am 47 she is 65) about how I am feeling the real need to leave this country. The rut around me is devastatingly high. How do you make the decision to go to another country with no job or degree to carry with you? What are the possibilities of finding plumber of store clerk positions? I guess that does depend on the country. May I ask….how old are you?

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Alexander Heyne March 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Hi Melody,

It’s not for everyone – and I don’t necessarily “suggest” that as option #1, but it’s an option for sure. I’m 26. Why do you feel a real need to leave your country?

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jeff raymaker April 3, 2014 at 5:16 am

I am stuck as well working at general motors but know I’m meant for more have a Cadillac cts at the age of 23 bought at 19 but still owe payments I want to leave but can’t because of bills I sometimes contemplate repossession and moving on I have great potential graduated a year early but fell into the money I was young and dumb.i have a said business in marketing g and can also speak i have been told to become a motivational speaker i hope it gets me out but I have multiple talents and envision My life a complete 180 from where I am now I’m too young to be feeling like this.i also body build and was once 300 pounds and changed my life I know I can do anything and can conquer this but it’s very hard.lord help all us going through these tribulations.i

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Lexie April 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I’m stuck with my mum, she’s so dependant on me that I’ve forgotten how to live. I just don’t know what to do. This article has so many pointers that are relevant to me. I know that I have to move away from my mum, but I have nowhere to go. I don’t know how to get UNSTUCK.

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Where do I go who shall I be April 15, 2014 at 12:54 am

I’m 31 years old, have worked the same well paying job for 6 years (the one thing I don’t like about my job is that my boss complains daily and it’s difficult to tolerate, she is awful), I live in a large city, I have hobbies (play in bands/music), have a wonderful family who lives near me, a wonderful boyfriend who also wants to move with me somewhere, a fantastic condo that is well decorated and in a cool neighborhood that if I move I could rent out furnished with a management company or via Air Bnb (so I can leave all my furnishings behind), I have almost 10K saved up, and no debt, I have a retirement fund,…

Basically I want out of this current life – for at least a year. And then I can come back to my condo if I choose to. I would love to move abroad. But I don’t want to teach English. I also don’t want to go back to school. I’ve traveled to several countries in Asia and I wasn’t in love with it enough to live there. I’ve thought about moving to the West coast too. But I have no clue where I want to go or what I will benefit from it. I want to do something new with a purpose for the future. How do I help myself figure out where I want to move? How can I get a job in a foreign company that is not teaching English? What other types of jobs are available to a foreigner who can’t speak the language? I’m not specialized in anything besides Administrative type office stuff. For example, I’m not a technician or a fabricator. My dream is to be a successful musician (by my own standards of “success” which is pretty simple to continue as an indie musician, and I’m working on it…but in the meantime, what do you advise a girl to do who doesn’t know where to go? There isn’t a particular city or country that’s calling my name, just somewhere warm and exciting that won’t just be an extended vacation? Thank you!

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Alexander Heyne April 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

How could you conduct a little experiment to find a place you might like? Maybe a 2 week stay somewhere?

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Alexander Heyne August 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hey there,

There’s actually a book that really reminds me of you. It’s called “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” by Ken Robinson. It talks about a student who was perpetually having a hard time succeeding in school and was being criticized by teachers. Finally, one teacher mentioned how much of a fantastic artist she was. As it turns out, years went by and the student always struggled in the traditional system.. until she found dancing/ballet. She then found “her” thing, and went on to become a world sensation.

What you said also reminds me a lot of the einstein quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I really think what’s important for you is to clarify two things:

A. What do YOU want? What do you intuitively feel drawn to?
B. Intellectually what do you THINK you want.

I feel like there’s a big battle going on inside you. Intellectually what you know you should be doing to look good for your family and make them proud, and then the intuitive battle trying to figure out what it is you personally want.

Also, feel free to shoot me an email, here’s my contact info: http://milkthepigeon.com/contact

Let me know how it goes!

Best,
ALex

(P.S. One last book I suggest buying is this. It’ll change your life: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=finding%20your%20own%20north%20star&sprefix=finding+your+own%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Afinding%20your%20own%20north%20star&ajr=2 )

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