How do I begin getting stuff together?

Things are so very hard. I know where I want to be but I have no idea how to start. I have absolutely no motivation to get anywhere I have nothing that makes me want to push forward, my dad recently passed and I’ve uprooted my entire life to be here for my mom and I’m completely lost. I am struggling so terribly mentally and it’s out a huge strain on my relationship, my work life and my own everyday life that I just am going blankly through life. And I want it to be different I want to make changes. But I can’t even begin to know where to start.
Asked by Co

Thank you for submitting your question. I am sorry that you are having some challenges in your life at this time.

Many people find themselves in the position of wanting life to be different. Most will battle the dilemma you are now trying to tackle: where do I even start? And how do I get the motivation to get going?

When individuals feel like they want things in life to change, they often reflect heavily on the externals. So, the job, the location they live in, the house they reside in, the hobbies, the car. In reality, the better place to turn your attention when you feel like you are stuck and wanting a turnaround is inside yourself.

It is super easy to get locked into place right from the very get go because what you are looking at is the big picture – you want to change all of your life. That is a huge, overwhelming thing. It is better to think a little smaller. And to start small. Simplify things and don’t worry so much about “where” to start and just begin. Begin with something – nearly anything will do.

Motivation is a tricky thing. It is a bit like the wind. It comes and it goes. What you actually want to focus on instead is discipline, routine and action. Taking action is simultaneously a cause of motivation as well as an effect. The only way to stop procrastinating is to get up and do. If you sit around waiting for motivation to strike you? That could be a bit of a wait. We often find ourselves immobilized. It can be from fear. It could be apathy. It could be overwhelm. Truth be told, once we start doing something (anything!) it helps us do something else . . . . and then something else . . .  and then another something else.

Changing your life isn’t about waking up tomorrow and doing all you can to accomplish your dreams. That’s a lot! And that will be a daunting task which is apt to freeze you in place. But a small action which just nudges you forward a bit? Now that is doable.

Focus your attention on habits. What habits are needed to get you where you need to be. You say you know where you want to go. That’s great. What are the habits you need to put into place to get to that place? What are doing now that is helping? What is getting in the way? Are you prone to procrastinating? Do you engage in a lot of negative self-talk? Are there people in your life that you are spending a lot of time with who are discouraging you? If you aren’t sure what is getting in your way, seek out someone you trust and ask them to help you do an evaluation of your life to figure out what barriers are potentially holding you back.

Change can begin with just one thing. Choose one key thing to begin with and start there. Then later you can build on that. For example, keeping a daily gratitude journal is a habit some people have. It becomes a key habit for them. Research has found that the habit influences other aspects of their lives such as it increases their general sense of well-being, it helps them sleep better, they have less physical pain, and, quite notably, it increases their desire to change.

Expect some bumps in the road. With change there can be hiccups and, at times, some chaos. Such is life. Anticipate it ahead of time.

Recruit family and friends to help you. Support can be very helpful when we are trying to transform. They can help, they can encourage, and they can be there to pitch in if that’s called for. Be mindful of who you lean on. Some people are natural naysayers who tend to discourage and find the negative in all things. They perhaps won’t be the most ideally suited to being on your transformation team. That’s okay. They aren’t bad people. They just aren’t the right people for this task. Be watchful of anyone who may try to pull you back or hold you in place. And you might find changing your life means changing some of the people you spend time with. There is a quote from motivational coach Steve Marabol which sums it up well: “If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly.”

Here are things to keep in mind to help you get started with change:

Decide you want to change

Figure out what change looks like and what you want (be as clear and concise as possible)

Accept that you will have to step outside your comfort zone

Decide what habits need to be added and which ones to cut back on

Recognize challenges will come up. If you can anticipate and plan for some, great.

Think about who might be part of your transformation support team

Focus on the small little steps to get you going

Stop thinking about it and just do something, anything – get some momentum going

If you don’t currently have a life that you think is good, it is never too late to make one that is. And if you continue to struggle, consider working with a therapist. A therapist can help you identify barriers, help you come up with a plan, and can help keep you accountable.