How to get unstuck

How to Get Unstuck

I’ll be completely honest with you guys, because hey, that’s the point of my keeping this blog and recording my journey into the uncertain land of unemployment.

I’ve been in total freak-out mode this week.

Perhaps it’s the fact that it took multiple hours, three glasses of wine, and two phone calls to complete my taxes. Maybe it was the 13.1 distance I committed myself to running, when the greatest length I’d run in training was just under 8 miles. Or, it could have been the episodes of GIRLS I watched, where Hannah experiences brutal bouts of full-fledged OCD, brought on by the stress of meeting aggressive deadlines. Whatever it was, I’ll just tell you that life got REAL with me this week.

For someone who is used to making a steady paycheck bi-weekly for the past six years, I guess it’s not too surprising that spending money with no certainty of income unsettles me.

At the peak of my inner crisis, I madly scribbled all the possible ways I can make money in the first few months I live in Portland (while I’m taking classes full-time). My handwriting was barely legible, but a few ideas I can make out are:

sell my paintings

make $$ from blog

be a dog walker

Something about make-up?

I was flipping out.

Fortunately, I came up for air long enough to remember something very valuable. There are other people I can talk to about this.

The first human contact I made was with a friendly Turbo Tax representative named George. I told George that either the government was unrightfully taking away a huge amount of MY savings, or I had made some serious boo-boos when walking myself through their ‘basic’ (read: cheapest version of) online filing. George literally saved me thousands of dollars by confirming that yes, I had made several mistakes. (TurboTax seriously saved me thousands, and I assure you they did not pay me to say this, though we all know I would gladly take the money if they did.)

Resolving my taxes definitely loosened me up, but I needed more than just tax advice this week. Fortunately, I had several friend dates planned in advance of my trip to Thailand (I leave tomorrow, weee!).

I confided in my closest friends, many of whom are going through similar phases of uncertainty in their lives. The advice I heard over and over from each of them (and from myself, when I calm down enough to truly listen) is simple and true.

As you start to flinch in the face of a big, scary decision, keep these few things in mind:

  1. The hardest part isn’t making the decision, it’s thinking about making the decision. We all know that painful form of anticipation that comes before you take action. When I ran cross country in high school, it was that ten minutes before every single race. I’d turn to my teammates and say, “I think I’m going to puke” and “I don’t think I’m going to make it.” But when I actually started running, that fear turned into adrenaline, and the negative self talk turned into motivational phrases on repeat. “You got this … slow and steady wins the race … you are a freakin gazelle,” and whatever else I needed to say to just get my ass to the finish line. I’m not saying running the race was the easiest part, but the purposeful act of moving towards a finish line feels so much better than just thinking about it.
  2. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s common to talk yourself out of something gutsy, when most of the people around you are not taking the kind of risks you want to take. Lots of people on my team at work were extremely frustrated and unhappy, and we’d spend a lot of our time wading in the waters of shared dissatisfaction, feeling too stuck to move. The common theme I heard was, this sucks but what are ya gonna do? At least we have a job. This kind of logic sells yourself and your right to happiness short, and it’s a pretty uninspiring way to look at things. Even though everyone on Facebook looks like they are living the dream, trust me, they aren’t. No one posts pictures of themselves looking miserable, crying under their desk, fighting with their spouse. Everyone has dreams, and it’s the bold ones who actually take their dreams seriously enough to move toward them. Yes, it’s hard to leave a stable job, but you owe it to yourself to fill your days up with something rewarding and enjoyable if you’re super unhappy in your 9 to 5. 
  3. The discomfort you are experiencing is temporary. Unless the big decision you’re grappling over is getting a tattoo, most decisions you make aren’t permanent. If I realize Portland isn’t the right place for me after a few months of living there, then guess what, I’ll move. But, I’ll move with new connections and some amazing experiences under my belt. The discomfort of spending money on trips, moving, and taking classes before I land a job is also temporary. I’m not paying for instant (empty) gratification. These are investments I’m making in my future. As long as I’m working toward a happier and more productive self, I know I’m on the right track.

Taking big risks allows your inner strength and courage to float to the surface in a powerful way. And trust me, the world will react favorably.

Still feeling stuck? My lovely friend and blogging idol, Therese Schwenkler of The Unlost, created an e-course that provides unmatched insight, a supportive community, and mentors to help you find your most fulfilling path. Therese and I have saved a dog, gone streaking, and quit our jobs to pursue our truest passions. She inspired me to begin blogging and to take control of my life. Oh, and she’s also hilarious. Click here to check out The Unlost e-course, I dare you :).

With courage, love, (occasional freak outs) and intensity,


Photo credit: Alex Dram / / CC BY-NC-ND

2 thoughts on “How to get unstuck

  1. Ummm, YES, I’ve had these freakouts too, and your points are oh-so-true. The ups and downs are just the nature of life, but I’ve found they’re particularly volatile when taking bigger risks. The lows are lower and harder, but the good news is that the highs are higher! No more comfortable, consistent middle ground, but I think it’s worthwhile.


    • Absolutely. I also had this thought in Thailand about this way of living: the deeps are deeper. My life feels has more depth to it, as I experience all these highs and lows, new territories and beginnings. I feel more, ordinary things mean more… like you said, it’s worthwhile.

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