What To Do When Nothing Is Working Out

Have you ever had one of those weeks, months, or even years, when nothing seems to be working out?

No matter how hard you try, everything just seems to crumble. In fact, the harder you try, the more quickly it crumbles.

Maybe now is one of those times.

If so, fear not. You’re not alone, and there is a way out.

Try this sequence:

1. Show up. When nothing is working out, it’s easy to want to stay in bed and quit. First, give yourself permission to fail (it takes pressure off). Then, promise yourself that you’ll at least show up.

Showing up is really 85% of the battle. Michael Hyatt says it well:

the ones who win are the ones who stay at it after everyone else has quit.

2. Slow down. When nothing seems to be going my way, I often begin to over-try. In an effort to get back on track, I race around furiously trying to accomplish everything at once. The result is simply more frustration.

Instead, after showing up, let your first activity be a deep breath. Compose yourself.

3. Step back. Rather than jump into the details of life, take a step back. Do two things:

  • Connect with your purpose
  • Revisit your approach

Often life gets out of whack when we are not aligned with a greater purpose. If you do not have a stated purpose for life and work, perhaps now is the time to define one.

Once you’ve connected to your purpose, revisit the tactics that you’ve been using to tackle the problems at hand. Decide whether a new strategy is in order.

4. Think small. Now you’re ready to take action. Just make sure that your first step is a small one. Your aim is not to clear every hurdle in your way. Instead, experience success in one small step and begin building momentum.

For inspiration read Zen Habits, no blog addresses the power of small steps better.

5. Be generous. The times in life when nothing is working out also tend to be times when we become self-absorbed.

In these times, it is important to turn your attention away from yourself by being generous to others. As you pursue success for others, you’ll start to find it for yourself.

6. Celebrate. All of these roadblocks that you are facing are actually opportunities.

Maybe they are hurdles that will separate you from those with less determination. Maybe they are signposts pointing you in a different direction.

Either way, they are most certainly opportunities to listen to your life. Celebrate these setbacks as a gift, and they’ll have no power over you.

Question: Does this resonate with you? What do you do when nothing seems to be working out? Share a comment!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “What To Do When Nothing Is Working Out

  1. Thanks for this post… I am just coming out of a period of 12 months where it felt like nothing was working and just like quicksand, the harder I struggled the worse it got.

    Will have to take some time to sit and figure out ways to implement this stuff.

    • Thanks for sharing James – I know the feeling. Glad to hear that you seem to be coming out of that period. I hope the resources here help!

      Also, feel free to email me at bootstrapmylfe [at] gmail.com chat further if it will help.

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Ry. When life gets stressful for me, it’s a sure sign that I’m getting too wrapped up in “self”. When I try to help others and get “outside” myself, my life problems seem to take care of themselves. Its a formula that works every time for me. I’m really enjoying your posts!