When Sunday nights coincide with depression and too many glasses of wine. And the days of the week stack on top of each other and you can’t shake the anxiety that’s thick in your chest. And nothing tastes particularly good anymore and your favorite songs feel like they’re meant for someone else.
And if you’re feeling stuck or lost or uncertain, I’m fairly confident that the worst thing you can do is sit still—sit on it, mull over it, and convince yourself you’re making progress because you’ve meditated on it for the past 162 mornings in a row now.
When you do that, you’re just “getting ready to get ready,” as they say.
And while it is wise to allow yourself stillness every day, if you really want to move forward, the best thing you can do is take action. Do something.
It’s counterintuitive and slightly annoying to hear that when you’re feeling stuck. It’s like, okay, but how do I move forward when I don’t even know which direction to go?
You don’t need to know which direction to go. The next steps will undoubtedly make themselves clear once you start taking action on something, anything. It’s like throwing spaghetti on the wall—you’ve just gotta see what sticks.
Many people are in a career they’re less than thrilled about. Good enough, not great. It pays the bills, they’re treated well enough, and they could practically do it blindfolded. After a few years, the most exciting part of their week is the latest gossip at the water cooler.
Most people will stay right there. They’ll go on another 25 years like that, sitting at the same desk, dreaming the dreams they don’t think come true for people like them.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because they’re right. Delicious, soul-satisfying dreams don’t come true for people like them. They come true for people who are bold enough to do something about it. If you talk to anyone who’s living a life of deep fulfillment and satisfaction and passion, they’ve got plenty of failures to share. They wear their scars like a badge of honor. They were never afraid to try.
But that’s where so many dreams go to die, right there in the cubicle. People get comfortable going on the same vacations, seeing the same people, and essentially living the same life day after day. I understand it. If no one else around you is taking chances, it becomes that much harder to step outside of the box.
Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse who has cared for hundreds of dying patients, wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. According to Ware, the number one regret of the dying is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
I’m not suggesting you need to do something crazy like quit your job and move to Bali — though if you do, more power to ya! What I am suggesting, though, is that you take action on those little ideas that interest you. I am suggesting you take your dreams more seriously instead of writing them off as silly or impossible.
What Can You Learn From Your Curiosity?
When you’re completely stuck and lost and have no idea what to do next, there’s a little friend who’ll happily hold your hand and guide you to the path: Curiosity.
What do you find interesting? Even a little bit? What do you want to learn more about? What subject makes your ears perk up in conversation? Do that thing. Learn more about it. Give it a shot, no matter how insignificant or impractical it seems.
Curiosity is a valuable nugget of information. When we feel curious, it’s an elbow nudge from the Universe giving us the opportunity to see our true selves more clearly if we’re willing to take the hint.
Maybe you’re curious about a different role at your office. Instead of ignoring your curiosity, follow it. Get to know the people who work in that department. See if you can shadow them for an hour or two. If possible, tell your boss about your interest in this other position. If you’re feeling bold, apply for that position when it opens up.
You never know until you try.
Maybe painting has been on your mind lately, but you haven’t picked up a paintbrush since you were 10. So? The Universe is nudging you toward it for a reason. You may not become a successful artist, but you may adopt a new hobby that feeds your soul in ways you didn’t know was possible.
We often shy away when we get those hits of curiosity. Acting on them would be out of the norm for us. The rational side of us steps in. What if I’m not any good? What if people think I’m weird? What if I fail?
I don’t have time for that anyway, we often conclude as we settle back into lives that feel drab and uninspiring.
Instead of taking our frustration as a sign that it’s time to pivot, we drown it out with vacations and alcohol and gossip — anything to make us feel more alive for a moment. But we’re missing the message. Those feelings of frustration are our souls talking to us, saying, Come on. I’m ready for more! Let’s just try.
And if we do try and really get committed to following our curiosity, the Universe will gleefully guide us along the way.
Just Try And See What Sticks
A couple months ago, my mom and I were driving home from my wedding dress fitting in Venice Beach.
“I’m just feeling a little stuck right now,” my mom shared from the passenger seat. “I want to feel really excited about something again, I just don’t know what that could be.”
I took a sip of my matcha latte and thought about what I’d learned from all the podcasts I listened to. “Well, I know it’s important to take action and just try something,” I started. “Even if you’re not sure where it’ll lead. Maybe you could volunteer at an animal shelter?”
A few weeks later, she texted me. “I joined this Facebook group and said that I’m going to meet them for a hike on Sunday. Definitely out of my comfort zone just to meet up with some random people but I’m going to try it. And I’m going to sign up for country line dancing through community ed in January. LOL.”
My heart swelled with pride for my mom. Here she was, putting herself out there and trying new things. She wasn’t making excuses or moping or complaining about not knowing what to do. She was following her curiosity, trying different things, and seeing what sticks.
Who knows where these decisions will lead? Maybe she’ll become good friends with the women in this hiking group. Maybe not. Maybe line dancing will be her new favorite hobby. Maybe she’ll decide she wants to try ballroom dancing instead.
The point is, if you want to live an interesting and fulfilling life, you’ve got to take action. Messy action. Action before you’re even ready. Period. End of story.