5 Essential Steps to Move Forward in Life and Get Out of a Rut

It’s easy to feel like you’re moving forward in life when you’re really standing still, treading water, or worst of all, regressing.

Location independence, passive income, and entrepreneurship all sound great, but what if you can barely keep your head above water?

The funny thing about being stuck in a rut is that you know you’re stuck in a rut. But you don’t know what to do to get unstuck.

5 Essential Steps to Move Forward in Life and Get Out of a Rut

What are the actual steps to take to move forward in life?

One: Take a Snapshot of Your Current Lifestyle

When I work with people, I’m always surprised by how out-of-touch people can be about their own lives. They often don’t have answers to the following basic questions:

What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. It’s easy to live life on the treadmill to nowhere. But once you reconnect with what it is you’re doing, you can start to move forward in life again.

Two: Work Backwards From Where You Want to Be

Remember when you were a kid and you learned the trick to solving any maze was to start at the end and work backwards to the beginning?

One of the strategies we talked about when using the 80/20 Rule is to work backwards from the feeling of a good day’s work to prioritize what you should do each day. The principle is the same, except now you’re looking at the wider scope.

Colin Wright at Exile Lifestyle explains how he can move forward by working backwards on a blog post:

[T]hat we can get so caught up in run-run-running forward at breakneck speed that sometimes we don’t realize that we can save time by working backward instead. I was able to cut my brainstorming time in half by starting at what is usually the last step of my article-writing process, choosing the illustration.

What does the Good Life look like for you?

Three: Follow Your Curiosity

Malcolm Gladwell, author of international bestsellers Blink and Outliers, says it’s more productive to pursue your interests than to try and figure out the magical formula for success. Jason Gots at Big Think interviewed Gladwell and here’s what he had to say:

We want to ascribe intentionality and blame for success and failure, then study them for blueprints. But Gladwell says he’s always found it more productive to follow his own curiosity without worrying too much about whether or not the world will reward him for it.

When you follow your curiosity, you invite success into your life. Not every interest is going to pay off, but when was the last time you heard anyone becoming successful with a project they had no interest in?

Anything worth doing in life takes time and hard work. It helps to stay motivated if you’re naturally curious about the subject.

Four: Find Your Hedgehog

Most of us live in the intersection between what we’re good at and what makes us money.

Living life in this intersection isn’t too bad, but it’s missing something.

The missing ingredient is passion.

Finding your Personal Hedgehog is an eye-opening exercise.

Nearly every other consideration falls away when you know what you should really be doing with your life.

Five: Take Action

After graduation, career guidance counselors at college probably left you with a lot of foolish notions about what it takes to succeed.

Instead of teaching you to fail fast and move on from your failures, school taught you to never raise your hand unless you had the right answer.

In real life, the questions that matter don’t have right answers … yet.

It’s your job as a high achiever to go find those answers and move the ball forward.

That means overcoming psychological barriers, pushing through analysis paralysis, and putting your brainpower to good use instead of solely focusing on collecting paychecks.

The Key to Move Forward in Life

You can’t move forward in life without knowing where you want to go. Getting stuck in a rut is more often about your mindset than it is about tactics.

Reframing your lifestyle isn’t the easiest, safest, or quickest path, but it’s the most potentially rewarding.

Life isn’t a race where you try to beat people to get to the end.

So take the time to reflect before you move forward.

Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi. License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.

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