Life isn’t a video game with a list of achievements to unlock. It’s also not a movie where everyone needs a nice, neat character arc wrapped up in three acts.
Real life is messy and chaotic and often involves as many steps backward as forward.
At the same time, life is a journey in many ways.
And some people never seem to really get going.
We all have different goals and dreams about what we want to achieve, and I’m not here to tell you that you have to be a CEO, innovator, athlete, or billionaire to be happy.
You do not.
But living a happy life comes from a sense of purpose. And it’s hard to pursue any goal if you’re stuck in the same place.
I don’t have it geographically either. Instead, I’m talking about people who are stuck in a life that doesn’t necessarily follow them and certainly doesn’t fill them with a sense of purpose.
You can recognize these types of people by the way they behave. Here are some behaviors that can show you someone who is unlikely to progress in life.
Hopefully you’re not one of them.
1) They romanticize the past
“A happy childhood is the worst possible preparation for life.”
I’m still a little angry at the people who told me as a child that I was having the best days of my life. Because I believed them.
And since I wasn’t a particularly happy child, I felt like life would only get more miserable as I got older.
Actually, the opposite happened. I love being an adult, and the happiest years of my life happened long after I grew up.
But for some people, childhood, with its security and lack of responsibilities, really does feel like a golden age. And this can lead to people becoming trapped in nostalgia for the past.
It’s not just childhood either. Sometimes people get stuck in a certain chapter of their life when they are at their happiest, and they can’t move on.
Maybe they had a great job back then. Maybe they were with someone they have since lost. Maybe they were healthier than they are now.
Whatever the reason, it’s easy to get stuck in a romantic view of what the past was like. And sometimes it’s true that things really used to be better than they are now.
But whether it’s true or not, the past is gone forever. Clinging to it will only poison your future, preventing you from looking forward and building a new life that follows you.
2) They procrastinate
Procrastination can be an extremely harmful habit.
Postponing things until later is something we all do sometimes. Especially when we are faced with something we don’t particularly want to do.
But in the long run, procrastination can wreak havoc on your career, your relationships, and your life.
“Despite its apologists and its short-term benefits, procrastination cannot be considered adaptive or harmless,” researchers Diane Tice and Roy Baumeister wrote in one of the first serious studies. research into procrastination in 1997. “Procrastinators ultimately suffer more and perform worse than other people.”
Putting off what you know you need to do is a good way to ensure that you never make progress in life. Instead, you will remain stuck for as long as you refuse to do what you need to do.
3) They are afraid of change
Often people who get stuck do so because they are afraid of change.
That is understandable. After all, change can be scary. And the more we have to lose, the more tempting it is to become afraid that things will change and take away what we have.
People who are afraid of change may be afraid of failure. They may lack the confidence in themselves to face the changes that life throws at them. They may feel that it is safer to stay where they are and not risk anything.
But change is coming, no matter how much we try to avoid it. Paradoxically, the only way to be safe in the world is to embrace change and the new opportunities it brings.
4) They lack a clear vision
I have been fortunate that I have always known what I wanted to do with my life. Not everyone is so blessed.
And if you don’t have a clear vision of the future you want, it’s a lot harder to make progress in life.
After all, it’s a big world full of different ways to live.
Do you want to become an artist? Do you want to make a lot of money? Do you want to travel the world and experience life to the fullest? Do you want to live a quiet family life?
If you are lucky in life, you will have to make these decisions yourself. If you are unlucky, many will be made for you.
But whatever your life circumstances, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want and how to get it. Because people who don’t have that often end up in situations that aren’t best for them.
5) They are indecisive
This can often be a more subtle sign that someone is stuck in life.
After all, indecisiveness can be part of their personality. They may have as much difficulty choosing what to eat or what to watch on TV as they do deciding what to do for a living.
Unfortunately, indecision often leads to not making a decision at all. And while that may seem safe at times, it usually ends with you being stuck with what you have and never making any progress.
6) They avoid risks
Of course, sometimes indecisiveness comes from the fear of making the wrong choice.
“People with anxiety disorders clearly face risks,” writes therapist and philosopher John T Maier. “They tend to avoid potential bad outcomes and (show) a willingness to give up potential good outcomes.”
Sometimes the inability to move forward in life can stem from an anxiety disorder.
7) They play the victim
Seeing yourself as a victim is one of the most damaging mindsets you can have.
That’s because it leads to feeling sorry for yourself and what psychologists call an external locus of control.
Psychologist Kendra Cherry writes that people with an external locus of control:
- blaming others for their circumstances
- attributes every success to luck
- Do not believe that they can change their situation through their efforts
- often feel hopeless
As you can probably imagine, this means that they rarely make any effort to improve the situation.
Seeing themselves as victims of fate or other people, they often remain stuck where they are, unable to believe that they can make things better for themselves.
8) They have a negative outlook
Often people who do not make progress in life have a very negative outlook.
In many ways, this can be a vicious circle. Because they believe there is no point in trying, they don’t. And as a result, their lives stagnate and they miss out on opportunities for growth and happiness.
This makes them even more unhappy, which confirms their negative view of the world.
9) They value comfort above all else
On the other hand, sometimes there are people who are stuck in life where they are because they are too in love with their comfort zone.
We all want to feel comfortable. We all tend to stick with what we know rather than risk the unknown.
But it is in the unknown that life can truly expand and grow. After all, your bed may be comfortable, but you’re not going to change the world or improve your life by hiding under the covers all day.
10) They fear criticism
One of the most common reasons why people tend to avoid anything new is because they fear criticism.
The truth is that no matter what you try to do in life, other people will have an opinion about it. And those opinions may not always be positive.
The more you try in life, the more you expose yourself to harsh criticism from other people. That’s true whether it’s strangers, friends, or even your own family.
Let that hold you back, and you will never progress in life. Often people who get stuck in a rut stay where they are because they are too afraid to risk the criticism that comes from trying something new.
11) They are undisciplined
Finally, sometimes getting stuck in life is just a matter of discipline.
I’m not saying you should get up at four o’clock every morning and take a cold shower before making your bed. I don’t do any of those things, and I don’t want to.
However, I am saying that if you don’t practice discipline in certain areas of your life, you are likely to fall behind.
Often progress comes from doing the things you don’t necessarily want to do. Whether you’re working on your physical health at the gym or building a business in your spare time, the road to a rewarding life is paved with things that aren’t fun.
Cultivating the ability to let yourself do those unpleasant things and embrace the challenges will help you avoid getting stuck.
Letting go in life
Beware of this behavior, both in yourself and those around you. Because many of them may seem harmless, over time they have a way of keeping you stuck and preventing you from moving forward in life.
If you’re happy where you are, that’s great. But if not, if you want to move forward, work on these negative habits that could be holding you back from the life you deserve.
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