You know that feeling when you thought you’d had a plan, and you were full of energy and enthusiasm, full of spark, and then suddenly something happens and the spark is gone. You sit there with your goals and plans and don’t know what to do next. You feel lost, stuck in a space, unable to move forward – not because there’s nowhere to move but because the paths around you, all 360 degrees of them, seem more or less the same; and the amount of effort to go there, not knowing where it will bring you, seems enormous. And the worst part of it all – you can’t make a decision without that spark that used to light your way and guide you. All you want is just to get that spark back. But how? How do we get that spark back when we feel lost in life?
If it isn’t clear to you by now, I like to write about things that I am experiencing myself. As much as I look for scientific ways to explain one thing or another and like to find the studies to support my posts, all of my posts are somewhat personal as well, because every struggle I try to find the solution for is my struggle as well as yours. We, people, are all the same in a sense that we all experience the same problems at one time or another. Yes, we might react to them differently and act differently, of course, but the struggles are the same. And I feel best writing about things that I know from experience rather than something I only heard and read about.
I like having goals. I like having plans. It gives me some sense of control and brings structure into my life. Up until a month ago I had my goals lined up:
- I wanted to write this blog and turn my passion for writing and helping people into a full-time venture.
- I wanted to get back to photography because I really enjoy it and maintain it as my part-time source of income.
- I wanted to finish my life coach training and start seeing clients – I felt I could potentially join this wellness blog with life and wellness coaching. Why not?
And then something happened. I lost my beloved pet one day, and the next day I learned that my auntie had passed after a 2 year battle with brain tumour. That was enough to make my precious spark vanish, dissolve into the dark. I took a break from blogging and moving forward with my photography for a couple of weeks. I took the time to grieve.
When I felt like it again, I made a plan, set a milestone to reach and reached it. And I burned out. That is what regularly happens to me. I channel all of my energy and put it into one step, forgetting all the rest, and I burn out. I lose my spark. I get lost in life.
Avoiding the burnout and dividing the energy evenly between work and life, and nourishing the creativity is probably a topic for another post. I am quite sure I will be writing about it one day as I embark on this journey and finally figure it out, but for now we’re going to talk about what to do when you are lost in life and how to get back on the path.
What to do when you are lost in life?
Curious of what to do to get un-stuck or find my way back, I contacted Dr. Google asking what to do when you are lost. I didn’t go past the first link that laid out the plan of what to do when you are lost – lost for real. In the woods, in a place that you don’t know. Physically lost.
Back in the school days, I remember learning how to orient in the woods and tell North from South by tracking the sun and looking at the trees if you didn’t have a compass. And if all else failed and you couldn’t get out, how to build a basic tent, start a campfire and look for provision. I’m sure all of these are super useful, but the guide I found was very different.
Instead, they called for these four actions: Stop, Think, Observe and Plan. And I immediately thought that this is exactly what we should do when we feel lost in life.
“Wherever you are, be all there”.~ Jim Elliot
I think our biggest mistake when it comes to situations like this is resistance – the denial of the fact that we are lost. We hurry to spring into action to prove it wrong, only to find that we do too much and see no results. Or we may desperately search for the way out, getting lost even further, or start panicking and lose connection with the present.
Instead of rushing into action, we should take time to be where we are, because there is a reason for it. Something brought you here in the first place, be it an internal force or an external. The fact is you are here. Stay here for a while. Breathe and just be present.
The last thing you want to do now is panic and desperately try to get out of this place. Instead, think what brought you here? Is it a series of events that knocked you off your balance? Is it a burnout? Have you worked too much, forgetting about your needs? Analyze your past actions to understand better what happened that made you lose your way. Only when we find the culprit, we can successfully move forward.
Turn your attention inward, tend to your heart. How do you feel about the situation? What scares you? What makes you feel so lost? Write your thoughts on a sheet of paper if you need, it will only help. Write down everything that comes into your mind. Scan your body for any tension. Maybe even take it to the mat and do some yoga, or meditate in a quiet space. Or go for a lone walk, especially in the country. Just make sure you know the route because you don’t want to get physically lost. Being alone is the best thing to do when you feel lost because then there is no noise to wash out the sound of your thoughts.
Sit down and write some more. Ask yourself different questions and answer them in detail. What do you need in your life right now? What needs are not being met? What can you do right now to change the situation? What would you do if you were fearless and had an unlimited budget? Where are you focusing your energy right now? Where can you focus it instead to make a positive impact on your life? What do you need to let go of in order to become happy and live your best life? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? How can you connect these two to benefit your life right now?
Finally, if you haven’t done so yet, read what you have written and analyse it. It should be obvious to you at least what you need to have in your life and what you want to have in your life, and what steps – no matter how small – you can take right now. Planning these steps will bring the structure back and will let you own your decisions and actions. It will as well give you an idea what to do now, which path to take.
“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost”~ Erol Ozan
NOW IT’S TIME TO GET THAT SPARK BACK
You probably already know what put that spark out. Most likely it was a neglect of your own needs and wishes, due to one reason or another. But no matter what did it, there is one way to bring it back – by doing the things that make you feel awesome.
So sit down with yet another piece of paper and list the little things that make you feel good about yourself. For me it is going for walks, doing yoga, taking photographs, writing, reading, drawing or painting, knitting, singing along to favourite music, eating pineapple or watermelon, burning scented candles and even cleaning the house. Of course, I also love traveling, going to restaurants and treating myself to some manicure, new clothes or other things, but you get the idea – it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it doesn’t have to be anything that could potentially lead you to another disaster (like spending lots of money to feel good, only to find out later that your finances are now unstable).
Once you have that list of pleasurable pastimes, start doing them. Start enjoying. It is these simple little things that feel so fulfilling and make us feel that we live the life the way we want and we actually enjoy it. This is what gives you that spark, unleashes your bright energy and creativity and makes you shine. It is this inner light that guides you in your life. You are your own beacon. Nourish it, so the light burns brightly and never ceases to burn.
P.s. Oh it feels so good to have this all written and about to be published… working on things you feel most passionate about are the most rewarding.