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HOW TO GET “UNSTUCK” – Six Tips for Avoiding Stagnation and Getting Your Life Back on Track (Part One)

As men age, they often get set in their ways. Guys lock onto the things they like and their tried-and-true methods and routines that worked a long time ago. There’s nothing wrong with demonstrating a bit of discipline…to a point. Regular practices, whether it’s brushing after every meal, exercising, reading, meditating, and having cool hobbies can be enjoyable and part of a healthy lifestyle. There are also bad habits. And it’s important not to tether yourself to habits driven by self-gratification, over-indulgence, and a resistance to change. Becoming stuck in certain behaviors and ways of thinking makes us stagnant, stiff, and stale. To live our best lives, it’s important to keep mixing things up and staying open to new ideas. 

As a boomer, I know lots of guys who are living and thinking the same way they did when they started out. They eat, drink, and consume the same food, booze, cars, media, sports teams, and political affiliations. They’ve accumulated material wealth, but over time have become less open-minded. Some have even physically stiffened over the years. Is it because they are set in their ways? Maybe. Is it a fear of change and losing the things they have? Maybe. That said, thinking new thoughts and considering new ways of addressing one’s problems is important for our health, career, personal growth, and well-being. And although trying new solutions doesn’t always immediately garner the results we want, over the long run new methods often lead to with things working out better. It’s good to shake things up every so often. 

A lot of guys think if things are working, why change? To keep pace with a constantly evolving world, it’s important to remain circumspect and consider new ways of doing things. We’re capable of change, but for many dudes, change is uncomfortable, and that often leads to “getting stuck”.

As men age, they lose physical power and can become unsure of themselves. The future is less certain and more real. Guys like controlling things, but as we grow older, there are less things we can control, and that can be unsettling. Many guys have no idea what they are going to do when they reach retirement age or are forced out of their jobs. Unfortunately, they only start planning their next move after the fact. Life is filled with surprises, so it’s important to take a breath now and then and review our behaviors and beliefs. Self-examination is critical to remaining vital, on point, and aging gracefully. 

So, what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? How do we avoid getting stagnant, stale, and stuck? 

The path to “get unstuck” begins with circumspection, an open mind with a positive attitude, and a willingness to be honest with ourselves. We need to examine how we live and think, and determine which habits, practices, and perspectives no longer work for us. Only then can we make positive changes.

Fortunately, more and more Boomers and Gen X guys are asking themselves if there is more to life than what they signed up for decades ago. These days a lot of dudes are open to new ways of thinking. These way showers are hungry to learn. They know it’s never too late to grow. They realize that if they want the world to change, they’ve got to be the change. But there are not nearly enough of these men to make a difference. And every man must ultimately get unstuck on his own.

I learned the hard way. For years I worked hard and played harder. I ignored my inner voice that tried to convince me to slow down. I continued doing things that were not good for me and ultimately paid the price in my health, job, and relationships. All of this could have been avoided if I paid closer attention to my intuition and adjusted a few areas of my life before the problems raised their head. 

Over the past two decades, my personal journey of “getting unstuck” has helped me forge a path paved with more joy, passion, and healing than I’ve experienced my entire life. I learned that when I invested in doing the inner work, my external circumstances changed for the better. I know how I lived and learned the hard way what was necessary for my survival and personal growth. 

When we go inside with an open heart, our problems and solutions reveal themselves. And when we get into the habit of embracing new thinking and fresh perspectives, things get easier, and the results come faster. It’s what I call, “getting unstuck”.

But one size does not fit everyone, and I don’t have all the answers. We are all headed towards the same destination, but everyone is following their own path with their own timing. My changes may not work for you, but with the right intention, attitude, and openness you can make the changes that will help you find your truth. I paid the price for “getting stuck” in my ways. Fortunately, I listened before it was too late. I made the necessary changes and I’m a better man for the experience. 

Here is Part One of my tips to help you “get unstuck”, Guy’s Guy style. I hope they work for you.

  1. SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE – When I lived in New York City, it was easy to do everything indoors. I took the subway to work, and after spending long hours grinding in the office, and I often had business that tool me all over the city to bars, restaurants, and clubs. When you live in Manhattan, (even before there was Amazon Prime, Covid, and the delivery apps), it was still a twenty-four-hour city where you could order almost anything and have it delivered. And that’s cool. But over time, especially during the pandemic it’s been more common to take convenience and technology to the extreme by staying home. Staying home means staying indoors often throughout those long cold New York winters. And all that tine inside, often focused on our computer, phone, or TV screen means absorbing too much stress, fear, and anxiety into our systems. That often causes more fear, nervous eating, drinking alone, and recreational drug use, all leading to deteriorating health. I always stayed in pretty good shape, having completed three marathons after the age of forty, but over the course of a few decades, all that stress from work and city life finally took its toll. I got sick, and although I came through two robotic surgeries with flying colors, I knew I had to change if I wanted a to live a long, fruitful life. So, I looked inside and made some changes.

    I began by making it a practice to walk whenever possible. I spent as much time as I could outdoors, often running the loop in Central Park or walking along Manhattan’s waterfront and through the vast array of neighborhoods. I could sense the change in energy every time I stepped outside, especially when I entered the park. Along with the cardio I was getting from walking, I also become more aware of nature and my surroundings. It made a major difference in my outlook and my mental wellbeing. 

    Now that I live in San Diego, I’m one of the handful of people who walk the city, just like I did in New York. Not only have I learned the flow of the city, but I’m getting lots of exercise. My son and I ride our bikes together and I take him to the parks and playgrounds often. Spending more time in nature, particularly during the pandemic, has helped me deal with our increasingly stressful lives. The outdoors has also helped me experience more of life versus reacting or following the programming tech companies and mass media use on an unsuspecting public.  If you get outdoors every day, even if it’s only for a short walk, you’ll realize that very little bit makes a difference, and the time in nature will keep you feeling connected and full of life. It’s a great first step to getting yourself “unstuck”. 
  1. LOOK INSIDE AND BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF – When guys first realize they are becoming stagnant and “stuck”, the first impulse is to look externally for the source of the problem. This is the way many guys live their lives. They react to whatever is thrown at them. We live in a third dimensional world so it’s necessary to respond to stimuli and anticipate what lies ahead. This is the “getting shit done” part of our lives. But only focusing our attention externally often results in missing the causes of problematic issues bubbling beneath the surface. 

    In other words, if you focus all your attention on making money at the expense of your physical and mental health, and well-being, you may not be aware of emerging problems. You let things percolate and fester until you experience symptoms. When symptoms occur, it is often too late to turn things around. Let’s say you’ve smoked for thirty years and one day you notice you’ve come down with a cough you can’t seem to shake. One thing leads to another and by the time you get around to becoming a non-smoker, it may be too late. One way of avoiding these situations is to take a moment and check in with yourself on a regular basis. If you can put aside a few minutes every day to just sit quietly, you’re off to a great start.

    Meditation can help you get in touch with yourself. If you don’t have time or the interest to study meditation, at least sit by yourself for a few minutes and focus on your breath. Inhale through your nostrils for the count of seven, hold it for a count of four, and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. This easy deep breathing practice can help you go inside yourself. 

    Sit quietly and ask what you need to know. Do this for a short period of time, and you will get answers. If you prefer asking questions to your higher self, guides, or the symbols of whatever religion you follow, that’s cool, too. The bottom line is when you quiet your mind and trust what you are hearing, you will get information that can change your life for the better. When you receive insights, don’t fight the process, even if what you get is not exactly what you wanted to hear. Be patient and listen without resistance and judgement. Your higher self is on your side, so even if you don’t like what you hear, it may be in your best interests to listen, even when it sounds like you are talking to yourself inside your head or making up words on the spot. Over time, you will learn to trust the information shared, and look forward to the process. I can tell you from my personal experience that when I started listening and trusting, I became more relaxed, less fearful, and more confident. I trust the information accorded to me and it has really helped me get unstuck and live my best life.
  1. LEARN NEW THINGS, DEVELOP FRESH ROUTINES – Another key component to getting “unstuck” is continuing your education every day. We all know guys who seemingly know everything and who are never wrong. They never admit a mistake or say they are sorry. Maybe they’ve made some money and have good jobs, so they think they have all the answers in their self-created bubble-world. They don’t want to change. Why should they?  They’d prefer to going back to the “good old days”. 

    But maybe they resist change and learning new ways to think because they are afraid of being exposed or wrong. They see being wrong as weakness and that cannot be allowed. The playing field is work. They want to win and place the spoils of victory in their bank accounts. No problem with that. But, unless we consider new ideas and perspectives that may not adhere to with our current beliefs, we can get stuck, because if there is one constant in life, it’s constant change. Nothing stays the same and if you are caught standing still too long, you will get stuck and passed by. It is imperative to look inside and keep an open mind to what is going on and what your intuition is telling you about your life, love, and pursuit of happiness.

Getting outside, looking inside, and learning new things are three solid steps that will help you get on the way to getting “unstuck”. I’ll share three more with you next time. Until then, take a moment to sit quietly, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what is it that you need to know right now. You may be surprised at what you hear.