When nothing goes right in life, it can be difficult to stay optimistic and continually strive towards your goals and dreams.
Having bad days is one thing. We’re all going to live through days where we’re simply at the mercy of the unpredictability of life.
However, sometimes we fall into more challenging stretches where nothing goes right for weeks, months, or even years. These are the kinds of struggles that put our life at a standstill and are incredibly damaging for our mental health.
If you find yourself trapped in one of these periods right now, the question you’re probably asking yourself repeatedly is, “What the hell can I do about this? Is this feeling ever going to go away?”
Hopefully, this article can help you answer that question. My goal is to provide you with action-based advice outlining how to get back on track when nothing seems to be going right in your life.
If you’re looking for a quick-fix, you’re in the wrong place. Overcoming true hardships isn’t about trying 30 day challenges, it’s about adopting a different strategy towards behavior change that promotes long-term growth instead of promising instant results.
Because with consistent action and enough time, you can change, achieve, master, or create anything that you want during the time you’re here.
When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left
Here’s one fundamental truth you need to accept before you start to change your life — your current system of behaviors is perfectly designed to bring you the results you’re getting.
If you’re unhappy, anxious, or just flat-out struggling in life, these feelings always trace back to the decisions that you’re making each and every day.
If you’re overweight, that’s because you’ve developed a system of habits that keep you from getting in shape.
If you’re dissatisfied with your career trajectory, that’s because you’ve developed a system of habits that keep you from becoming a top-performer in your field.
Your current results are simply a product of your past actions. I know that this sounds pretty intuitive, but it’s something that many people refuse to accept.
It’s easy to blame personal struggles on external factors. It’s much harder to look in the mirror and recognize that you’re responsible for whatever situation you find yourself in.
The good news is that you created the system, which means you can destroy it — when nothing goes right, go left.
You have the power to systemically untangle self-sabotaging beliefs by making different decisions. Better choices leads to a better system of habits, which leads to better results, which leads to a better life.
Making a left turn, or even a full u-turn is difficult when you’ve walked down one path for so long, but hopefully the following section of this article makes turning the corner easier.
7 Ways To Get Back On Track When Nothing Goes Right
When nothing goes right in life, it can be difficult to figure out what the next step in your growth is.
Even if you do know what that next step is, it’s hard to pinpoint a strategy that will actually work for you long-term.
That’s what the rest of this article will focus on — actionable strategies for reversing the stagnation you may be experiencing.
Here’s a list of seven things you can do to turn your life around when nothing seems to be going right.
#1: Take A Step Back When Nothing Goes Right
In the productivity world, people are often taught to step away when they’re dealing with a particularly challenging obstacle in their work.
And in many cases, given that time is used properly, people come back to their work with fresh insights about how to solve whatever challenge they’re facing.
These new insights usually lead to a new path forward that they never saw before. It was always there, but they couldn’t see it until they re-evaluated their strategy and let their creative mind work its magic.
If you really want to change the trajectory of your life, taking a step back is an essential part of making this happen.
It allows you to bring everything into perspective and really play out the dominoes of continuing down the path that you’re walking along.
So before you adopt any of the philosophies provided in the rest of the article, commit to putting your goals on hold for a couple of days until you’ve adopted a new strategy going forward.
#2: Shrink Your Timeframe
When nothing goes right in life, one of the best things you can do for your mental state is to shrink your timeframe.
Do you have big goals that are going to take awhile to achieve?
I’m guessing that most of you reading this would answer “yes” to that question.
How do you feel when you look at those goals? Do you feel motivated at the possibility of achieving them, or dread due to the sheer long-term effort required to achieve them?
My guess is that you probably feel a mix of both emotions. But ultimately, the real question is which feeling is the dominant force in your day to day actions?
In most cases, it’s the feeling of dread that drives us. With big goals, you’re in a constant state of failure until you succeed. And when nothing seems to be going right in life, the negative effects of this permanent failure state are magnified.
Therein lies the problem with big goals — as the newness begins to wear off, motivation and excitement is replaced by doubt and uncertainty.
So how do we combat this state of constant failure that de-motivates us to stretch towards our most ambitious goals?
Well, one strategy you can adopt is to shrink your timeframe. Things may be so difficult for you right now that it’s just too stressful to think about next year, next month, or even next week.
If you do find yourself in this position, I’d suggest shifting your focus away from the big goals you have. Don’t get rid of them completely, simply use them as a tool to assess what you can realistically achieve in the short-term.
- If thinking about your twelve month goals feels too overwhelming, set a goal that you can accomplish in the next month.
- If thinking about the next month is too overwhelming, set a goal that you can accomplish in the next week.
- If thinking about the next week is too overwhelming, set a goal that you can accomplish today.
Breaking these big goals into smaller chunks of time can reduce the level of anxiety you feel around them, and in turn make you more likely to achieve them.
Additionally, it just feels better to post a few wins on the board instead of living in a constant failure state where success is 6, 12, or 18 months away.
#3: Reach Out To Your Tribe
Social support is one of the most valuable assets we have when nothing seems to be going right in life.
Your closest friends want what’s best for you. That’s why they’ll likely empathize with your struggles, while also serving up the brutal truth that you might not want to face.
They’ll be able to identify when you’re making excuses and shifting the blame away from yourself. But they’ll also realize when you’re being too hard on yourself and engaging in unproductive self-loathing.
Because they’re a third party observer, they’ll offer a more rational perspective on your struggles that you can use to your benefit.
So if nothing is going right in life and you need to start getting back on track, begin reaching out to your closest friends and opening up about your struggles.
Don’t sugarcoat anything and just tell them what you’re feeling. You may come away from those conversations with a new perspective on your struggles that can be leveraged for good.
#4: Focus On Small Habits
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Most of us know this inherently, yet that’s the path we choose to take when it comes to behavior change.
We get fed up with a certain aspect of our life, promise to change, set huge goals in pursuit of this change, make little to no progress towards these goals, and then try the same approach again six months later.
That’s what it’s like to be on the self-improvement hamster wheel, and it’s where most of us find ourselves trapped while pursuing our biggest goals.
If you want better results, you need a better strategy. The reason why most people struggle with behavior change is not due to a lack of motivation or willpower, most of the time it simply comes down to strategic error.
So if you really want to make the changes that you’ve been saying you’re going to make for months, years, or even decades, small habits need to become your new best friend.
Why is it that small habits are so powerful?
Well, for one thing they attack your ego. If you make a new habit small enough, your brain will struggle to come up with reasons for why you can’t do it. You almost have no choice but to get the reps in regardless of your emotional state.
Another benefit is that they instill new beliefs about who you are.
If you meditate for 60 seconds every day for a month, your brain begins to say “Oh, I guess I’m the type of person who meditates.”
If you do ten pushups every day for two weeks, your brain begins to say, “Oh, I guess I’m the type of person who works out every day.”
Ten pushups or 60 seconds of meditation seems insignificant. But if these actions compound over time, two things will happen:
- You’ll start to blow past these targets on a daily basis as taking action becomes easier.
- You’ll start to change the story that you tell yourself about who you are.
So think about some of the changes that you want to make in life and humble yourself by committing to 1-2 small daily habits that align with your goals.
If you’re wondering how small you need to go, just think about a daily target you could meet every day regardless of how you feel.
If you’re trying to build a writing habit, that might mean starting with just getting down 50 words per day.
If you’re trying to improve your personal relationships, that might mean simply texting someone you care about to check-in every day.
Make these new habits so easy that you can’t say no. If you learn how to be consistent and solidify new habits into your routine with ease, things will gradually get better.
#5: Address Your Biggest Demon
I have a hunch that if you’re feeling like nothing is going right at the moment, this feeling usually tracks back to a 600 pound weight on your shoulder.
It’s different for everyone, but we all have that biggest demon — the thing that dominates our internal dialogue on a daily basis.
To be more specific, we all have that one thing we’re avoiding — the character flaw that we’re too afraid to fix because of the type of work it would entail.
Maybe it’s the fact that you deeply desire deeper relationships and social freedom, but you’ve been struggling to overcome your social anxiety.
Maybe it’s the fact that you hate the body you see in the mirror, but have never been able to stick to a workout program for longer than 1-2 weeks.
Maybe it’s the fact that you want to excel in your career, but have never been able to kick the habit of procrastinating important work.
I don’t know what your biggest demon is, but I do know that if left unchecked, it will continue to hold you back in several areas of your life.
Now this brings good and bad news. The bad news is that addressing this demon means coming face to face with your deepest fears, which is quite a scary prospect.
The good news is that removing this 600 pound weight off your shoulders will make every other burden you’re carrying feel lighter.
With the proverbial gorilla off your back, making other changes will seem easier due to the sense of self-mastery that slaying your biggest demon provides.
In terms of how to address your biggest demon, you can adopt the philosophy described above — start small, show up consistently, and be patient.
As this singular area of your life begins to take on a more positive trajectory, the rest of your life will follow suit.
If you’re struggling to figure out what your biggest demon is, here’s a simple question that cuts through the fluff and gets right to your deepest values:
If someone gave you the power to completely change one aspect of your character overnight, what would you change?
#6: Be Careful With Setting Band-Aid Goals
When nothing goes right in life, it’s important to look inwards and ensure that you’re pursuing the right goals.
For almost my entire life, I struggled with crippling social anxiety.
I was deeply afraid of rejection, had zero confidence around women, and struggled with even basic social interactions — it was my own biggest demon.
- I’d avoid saying hello to people unless I knew them really well.
- I’d avoid talking to women at all costs because I was afraid they’d think I was boring and uninteresting.
- I struggled to put my own interests first and ask for what I really wanted.
- I felt confused, anxious, and hyper self-conscious when around people that I didn’t know because I was trying to impress them instead of being my authentic self
In college, sometimes the physical and emotional distress was so intense that I’d leave bars or parties unannounced and text my friends some lame excuse to explain my disappearing act.
In other words, social anxiety dominated my life abd stopped from doing the things that I truly wanted to do.
So what was my solution to all of this?
Well, I decided to set band-aid goals — goals that didn’t address my social anxiety head-on. The hope was that the ripple effect of achieving these goals would naturally make me feel better in social situations.
Oddly enough, growing this blog was one of those goals. From the moment that I registered the domain name, I began relentlessly publishing articles in order to gain more traffic to this site.
The problem was that pursuing this goal only increased my social anxiety. The countless hours of writing further shielded me from the things I was really afraid of.
And while I was able to find some solace in progressing towards an important goal, deep down I always had the suspicion that I was running from the real battle.
As you look at your life now, are there any goals that you’d define as band-aid goals?
If so, it’s probably best to put them on the back-burner. I’m not saying that you can’t work towards them, but maybe they don’t deserve to be #1 on your priority list.
It’s hard to offer up advice for identifying band-aid goals because we’re all fighting different demons, but I will say this:
If you feel like the goals you’re pursuing don’t address the biggest source of lack of fulfillment in your daily life, that’s a feeling you want to explore.
#7: Find A Mentor
Oftentimes, one of the reasons we start feeling lost in life is due to a lack of clarity around the next steps we need to take to achieve our goals.
The simplest way to overcome this feeling is to find a mentor. There’s someone out there who has faced the same demons you have and found a way to overcome them.
Learning from them is an amazing way to fast-track your growth.
Mentors also serve as great accountability partners. The idea that our failure to take action will disappoint someone else can be a powerful motivator to make things happen.
A while back, I hired a dating coach with the goal of getting more comfortable around women, a social inadequacy that had plagued me since high school.
The first couple of weeks of the mentorships sucked. Not because of his program or his teaching style, but because of my own lack of commitment.
I struggled to take action on the social challenges he gave me, many of which revolved around experiencing public rejection and starting conversations with complete strangers.
The first two calls we had were unproductive because I wasn’t giving him anything to work with. My mentor didn’t bash me for my inaction, but on the second call we had he said something that really resonated with me:
“Justin, I get that you’re scared and I really empathize with that because I’ve been there. But did you really invest all of this money into your growth to show up each week and report nothing to me? I might as well just refund you the money now.”
That’s when things began to click for me. All of the sudden, I had to be accountable to another person who cared about my growth. And this little kick in the butt turned out to be just what I needed to push past limiting beliefs.
Taking action became significantly easier because I didn’t want to face my mentor on Sunday night and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t do what we set out to do the week before.”
This is yet another example that when nothing goes right in life, other people who care about your growth can be an incredible asset.
I hope you enjoyed this article talking about several different strategies you can adopt when nothing goes right in life.
The unfortunate reality is that we will all face these periods in life. The path to a meaningful life is not a straight line — the highs are very high, but the lows can be very low.
The good news is that at any given moment, you can make a decision to do things differently.
You can tone down your ambition and commit to small habits. You can find a mentor who will accelerate your personal growth. You can choose to avoid band-aid goals and attack the biggest demon that’s stopping you from getting the life you want.
These are all choices that you can make today. Right now. At this very moment.
The only question is whether or not you will.