Do you ever feel unhappy, bored, uninspired, and annoyed by work? Do you ever look down into your patient’s mouth during an exam and think, “Ugh, if I have to look at another tooth, I don’t know what I’ll do.” I used to have that exact thought at times. The more I felt stuck in my career, the louder that thought became in my head. It’s not fun at all. Feeling like you have no options is really stifling.
You know what’s keeping us stuck? We won’t get out of our heads.
For many years I went round and round. I thought too much. I thought so much that I couldn’t act. If you have ever seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you know it’s funny, but it is also thoughtful at times. The movie is about the main character’s journey to get over his seemingly amazing girlfriend who dumped him. But eventually it comes out that his unhappiness in his job affected his life and his relationship more than he even realized. Part of his work to forget Sarah is to find his way out of his depression, which mostly involves taking action to follow his dream. At one point in the movie, the new love interest says to him, “Dude! Get out of your head. It’s really nice out here.”
Dude! Get out of your head. It’s really nice out here.
That line slapped me in the face every time I heard it. I was so busy thinking and worrying and doubting, that I was paralyzing myself. I was doing it to myself, and I could relate to his angst.
What are we so busy doing in our heads?
In another of my favorite Ted Talks, Mel Robbins talks a lot about being stuck and how we are screwing ourselves over. How are we screwing ourselves over?
We tell ourselves that we are “fine.” In telling ourselves we are fine, we give ourselves an out, and we tell ourselves we don’t have to change. It is just a way to convince ourselves that we don’t have to do anything about it.
All day long we have ideas, but we do nothing with them. You know why? It’s because the first step is the hardest. I say this a lot: Just do it. Do something. Do anything. Because you never know where it will lead you. It doesn’t matter what you do, but it’s all about creating movement.
We’re never going to feel like it. Ever. It’s easier to continue doing what we’re doing and follow the path of least resistance. It’s easier to stay fine, because nothing is wrong with fine. It’s not so great either, but still, nothing is wrong with it.
How does she suggest we get out of our heads?
Your problem isn’t ideas. Your problem is you don’t act on it. You’re doing it yourselves. Stop it. It’s not going to happen in your head. That’s true for many of us, but I know that there was a time I couldn’t even come up with ideas. I was so stuck that I wouldn’t allow myself to dream or be creative. It was too scary. Do you feel that way? If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who does have ideas, why are you keeping them in your head?
Follow the 5 second rule. If you have the impulse to do something but don’t act in the first moment, the emergency brake goes on. The first 3 seconds are the hardest. Think about getting out of bed in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I love staying in bed. It feels so good, and it’s so easy. In contrast, it’s so hard to get out of bed right away. It’s true– those first 3 seconds are the hardest. But once you get up, that discomfort dissolves. After you make that first move to do anything new, the discomfort goes away. If you don’t take action on your impulse within 5 seconds, you’ll kill the idea. So if you can’t act in the moment, at least write yourself a note to do it later.
It’s your job to parent yourself and do the job you’re supposed to do, even if you don’t feel like it. You have to force yourself. Your feelings are screwing you. If you listen to how you feel when it comes to getting what you want, you never will get it because you will never feel like it. True story.
I love how she describes what being stuck means:
I think when you feel stuck or dissatisfied in your life, it’s a signal. And it’s not a signal that your life is broken. It’s a signal that one of your most basic needs are not being met. Your need for exploration. Everything about your life, about your body, grows. Your cells regenerate, your hair, your nails, everything grows for your entire life. And your soul needs exploration and growth. And the only way you’ll get it is by forcing yourself to be uncomfortable. Forcing yourself to get outside, out of your head.
Here’s a first step you can take to get out of your head. Listen to Mel! As always, she talks about so much more than I cover here, and I’d hate for you to miss some great stuff!