Dear eNotAlone: I'm a young professional, just starting out my career. I was so excited to get an opportunity to do what I want to do, to make something of myself. I was determined and self-motivated and I had plenty of ambition - but somehow all that motivation is slowly fading away into a burning frustration. Despite my best efforts, all of my hard work feels like it's getting me nowhere. I feel like I'm stuck in a rut, and the only thing I can think about is how I'll never reach my goals. All of the planning and strategizing hasn't made me much progress, either; even after working late nights, I just don't feel like I'm any closer to where I want to be. Every bit of progress is so slow that it ends up feeling like I'm not making any.
What can I do to not feel so miserable and helpless? How can I effectively push myself to keep going despite this overwhelming sense of fear, failure, and doubt?
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When progress isn't moving quickly enough, it can be incredibly frustrating. All of your hard work can seem like it's going to waste and you can start to question every next move you take. If this is you, know that you're not alone. Feeling stuck and uncertain of your next step is a common experience that many strive to overcome.
One way to start navigating through this is by taking a step back. It's easy to get bogged down with the daily grind of your job, and this can blur the view of where you actually want to go. Instead of scrambling to move forward, sit down and familiarize yourself with your desired future. Situationally and emotionally, assess where you should be by now. What would success look like in your eyes? What would you accomplish at this point in your journey? By understanding this, you can use it as your guiding light when you hit those bumps in the road.
Next, give yourself permission to fail. This may seem counterproductive in the "success-driven" age, but it's an essential part of growth. Articulate pre-set, intentional parameters for yourself which distinguish between learning from a setback and making a mistake. Constant failure is warding you off from succeeding, but a few missteps along the way will provide you with valuable knowledge. Put in effort to identify what worked, what didn't, what could adjust, and how your process can be improved for the future.
By taking into account the fact that failure is bound to happen, have confidence in your decision-making. We all know the mental draining effects that accompany indecisiveness. What helps with this is realizing that no decision is wrong. Take some time to weigh out the pros and cons of any decisions that come your way – this can even be done through creative processes like brainstorming or drawing. Here, you'll find that you already have the answers to questions you're asking yourself – you just have to trust them.
Most importantly, have faith that things will work out. Progress is a long and winding road, with turns and detours that you weren't expecting. Whether it is small steps on a day-to-day basis or tackle the big life changes, trust that the journey is important. Remind yourself that it will take hard work, but actively give yourself recognition for still pushing yourself forward.
When progress isn't moving quickly enough, it's easy to become overwhelmed. Taking a step back, articulating your desired future, learning from failure and decision-making, and trusting the process are essential steps to overcoming these moments. Keep your focus on the end result and use it to continue your strides towards success.