ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL

How to Stop Feeling Mediocre When Nothing You Try Seems to be Working

A conversation about feeling like crap and what to do about it.

Photo by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash

Feeling like crap can come on suddenly and leave just as suddenly, or it can be a nagging feeling that hangs around for years on end, reminding you that you’re just not living up to your own expectations. Believing you’re destined for a life of mediocrity and all the negativity that comes with it is a hell of a way to live. My recommendation is: don’t do it.

Of course, just saying, “Don’t feel like crap,” is not the way to keep you from feeling like crap. If you’re like me, you’ve had a lot of big dreams in your life, and there aren’t too many of them you’ve ever seen come true. Maybe the reason they don’t come true is your fault and maybe not. Life has a funny way of kicking us around and knocking us as far away from our goals as it’s possible to get. Contrary to what you’re probably thinking though, that’s not always a bad thing.

First let’s explore some reasons your dreams might not have come true in the first place.

One of the things I tend to do is change my mind (and my dreams) A LOT! I start off in one direction but don’t get too far before I veer off the path to head somewhere else.

It’s hard to reach your destination if the finish line keeps moving. Changing your mind often indicates that you don’t really know what it is that you want.

Not knowing what you want means that you can’t aim at anything. Without a clear direction in mind, we tend to just wander aimlessly, hoping that one of our random dreams will become reality and not knowing if we really want it to or not. That’s no way to live.

That’s not the only way to miss the boat.

Another way we mess our dreams up is to aim at things that aren’t meant for us. If you decide you want to be a famous singer, but you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, it’s not going to work out very well. The goals we set in life need to be within our reach and fall in line with the gifts and talents that are unique to us.

Sometimes hardships and tragedies prevent us from reaching the goals we set in life. When that happens, it can seem like your life has no purpose or that you aren’t ever going to become what you thought you were meant to be. Believe me, I know what that feels like. I’ve had many setbacks for reasons like this. Life can be a real struggle sometimes and can leave you drowning in a sea of mediocrity.

Don’t let mediocrity overwhelm you to the point where you feel like it’s choking you out. I’m going to give you a few tools to get you out of that deep hole, but first I want to tell you why reaching the goals you set for yourself isn’t always a bad thing.

It’s the journey.

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

What I’ve found on my trek through life is that it isn’t the result that’s most important, but everything you experience on the way to it. There’s so much beauty in the journey. I think about all I would’ve missed if everything would’ve gone right from day one, and I can’t help but realize how blessed I am that my life has been completely jacked up.

Having a jacked-up life doesn’t seem like a good thing if you take it out of context.

It doesn’t hurt to look at things from a different angle.

An old daily devotional called “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. Chas E Cowman, makes the point (January 8 devotion) that the possibility exists that there wouldn’t be any appreciation of the sunshine if there was never any rain.

So much clarity can be found in the sunshine and rain analogy.

Ask yourself these questions:

Would I appreciate the good things in my life if I didn’t have hardships?

Would I be able to experience joy if I couldn’t experience pain?

I don’t know all the answers, but my suspicion is that we could never appreciate our successes if we didn’t know what it was like to fail.

We do fail, though, and failing (or failing to achieve) can leave us feeling “less than” or mediocre. It feels like the whole world knows something we don’t and like we just don’t measure up. I’ve been there. I know how it feels, and I’ve thought of a few ways to get back on track.

Here are some things you can do to get out of the pits of mediocrity and back on the pathway to success!

  1. Get your priorities straight. Reevaluate where you’re headed. Make sure it’s where you want to go. It’s easy to get drawn into doing things because other people are doing them or because a particular lifestyle looks attractive but be sure what you choose matches both your values and your gifts and abilities. Choose to put your energy into things meant for you, not someone else.
  2. Take stock. Look back at what you’ve accomplished. Not reaching a certain goal doesn’t mean you haven’t done something wonderful and worthy. Did you raise a family? That’s worth more than any other goal you could ever possible achieve! Have you kept the same job for over 10 years? That’s one heck of an accomplishment! Do you paint, build, volunteer, grow food, lead, clean, or serve well? All these things, plus tons of others, are amazing accomplishments and keep our world turning.
  3. Step away for a while. Everybody needs to take a break. Maybe if you step back a bit you will have a new perspective when you go at it again!
  4. Set achievable goals. It’s possible that the reason you’re stuck is because you’re aiming too high! If your goal is a little closer to you,  more likely you are more likely to achieve it. You can set another goal once you meet the first one.
  5. Never quit trying. Don’t give up no matter what. You’re not a quitter. No matter how discouraged you get, don’t settle for less of a life than you deserve. You don’t want to get to the end of it and wish you’d have tried one more time!
  6. Believe in your dream. You might be the only one who can see the possibilities. You know what? That’s okay. That’s why it’s YOUR dream! It was given to YOU to accomplish, and you’re really the only one who has to believe in it. You’ve got this!
  7. Acknowledge your mountain. Recognize the fact that you’ve got things to get over, through, and around. Ignoring the mountain doesn’t mean it’s not there. Tackle the hardest thing first so you have it out of the way. Then you can move on to everything else.
  8. Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. We aren’t meant to trudge through this world on our own. Other people may know things that you don’t know. Go ahead and find out. Ask for advice. Ask for prayer. Ask for help.
  9. Pray and seek Spiritual guidance. This should come first, before any other step you take. Getting in touch with God is a whole lot more important than getting in touch with yourself. He has all the answers anyway, and let’s be for real. Nothing you’ve ever done without Him has worked anyway.
  10. Rest. Don’t get so caught up in the pursuit of success that you forget to rest daily. Exhaustion will take over and you’ll never make it if you do.
  11. Go do something fun! All work and no play is boring. You can’t be mediocre playing paintball or wrestling with the kids.
  12. Pivot. Change directions if you need to. I don’t mean be wishy-washy. I mean when you decide that you’re headed the wrong way, don’t waste your time by continuing to go the same way. Find you a new way to go and take off.
  13. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is the most limiting thing you can do. You don’t have to be as good as they are. You can be a whole lot better!
  14. Be different. If you do things like everyone else does, you’ll never get the results intended for you. Do things like YOU do them. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You are good enough. If the rest of the world doesn’t see how cool you are, it’s their loss.
  15. Go back to square one. Sometimes retracing your steps can let you know where you got off track and where you can get back on.
  16. Check out how other people make it. Successful people all have strategies in place, and most of them don’t mind sharing them with you. Just don’t get trapped in a pattern of information overload and continuously soak in knowledge just to never do anything with it. Act on the wisdom they share. Don’t do it to be like them, just benefit from their superior knowledge.
  17. Change your attitude. Is negativity what’s keeping you down? Switch your attitude for one of gratitude and watch your world turn around!!
  18. Get up earlier. It’s been said that successful people start their days much earlier than those who aren’t successful. It matters how much you want something.
  19. On that note, decide if you really do want it or not. After all you’ve learned, you may just need to redefine success. It’s very possible you’ve already achieved it in your life. Look at what’s most important to you and what position that thing (or person) holds in your life.
  20. Believe you can. You can do anything you set your mind to do. No matter how many times you’ve tried and failed before, don’t quit. You can still make it! You don’t know how close to success you are—it might be just around the corner. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you either!

Show the world and show yourself you have what it takes to swim right out of mediocrity into the life you’ve always dreamed of having!

When you’ve done everything on this list, start back at the top and do them again if you need to. Repeat as often as needed. This is how to stop feeling mediocre in a jacked-up life where nothing seems to be working. If you keep trying hard enough, you’ll wake up one day and be so far past your goal that you’ll have to walk backwards to get to it!

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ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

Don’t Give Up On Yourself

Quitting On Monday

I think that the easiest day to lose hope is Monday. When the week starts, it should be full of great possibilities, but the reality is that Monday is the day the cold hard truth usually slaps us in the face. It’s the day we are forced to stop pretending that everything is great. We often need to go back to work and leave our dreams behind again. It gets hard.

It isn’t just work though. The whole world will come against you sooner or later. Maybe it will set up a pattern all your life. Things and people that you count on will be snatched away from you. Just when you feel the most secure, something will happen that will set your world on tilt.

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

Quitting On Tuesday

Maybe it’s Tuesday that makes you want to quit on yourself the most. The struggle to get through Monday has taken its toll, and you just don’t have anything left. Hard things happen, and you don’t feel like you are equipped to deal with them anymore, if you ever were.

At first, when the hard things happen, you may want to give up on God. It’s easy to throw the blame on the Almighty. He is ultimately in charge. But, when you think about it, you realize that God hasn’t failed you in any way. You may begin to ask yourself if you have failed God.

Being Angry With God

It’s hard to always stay positive in a negative world.  I get that. I really do. I’ve had my share (and more) of tragic circumstances. I have not handled much of it very well. I did not turn to God in my pain and loss like I should have. I turned away and blamed Him instead. At least I did for a while.

It was when I was the angriest at Him that I realized that I still believed in Him. Of course, believing isn’t enough. I also had to get to a place where I remembered that He was good and that He loved me. I had to realize that He still had a plan for my life, even though my own plans had crashed and burned. Coming to that point was the hardest after I buried my 16-year-old son. This kind of loss makes you question all that you have ever believed.

Perfectly Imperfect

During my trek through the chaos and confusion of the worst of my grief, I learned to see the world in a different way. What was ordinary to me before became extreme. Casual beauty became exquisite when I realized how temporary it all is. I learned to focus on the smiles of my children and to take in every breath that they breathe. I learned that the imperfections that I once saw as flaws are what makes something beautiful and unique. The world irrevocably changed for me, but it wasn’t all good.

What Our Children Face

I looked at our world and what we have made of it. Sin and ugliness have run rampant through our societies. The children that we bring into the world are forced to grow up in fear of what tomorrow will bring. If they are living unaware of the potential danger of the future, then they are ill-equipped to face it. On the other hand, to tell them what it may be like is a betrayal of their innocence. How do we know what to do? How do we tell them that the walls protecting them are made of glass?

The problems we face seem to be insurmountable at times. Human trafficking, the threat of war, and the divisiveness of our country due to political affiliation, religion, race, and economics to name a few. We get mixed messages from the media and don’t fully understand what the truth is and how to teach it to our children. Like my Mama always said, “Babies don’t come with blueprints stamped on their butts.” Do we protect them with the truth, or protect them from the truth? I don’t know.

Who Failed Who?

All I know is that God didn’t fail us. That leaves the obvious answer. If He didn’t fail us…. We failed Him. With that realization, hopelessness can start to creep up on you.

Depression. Anxiety. Feelings of worthlessness and fear. The idea that you can never get it right because you never have before. The overwhelming sensation that you are about to drown in your sorrow, anger, and helplessness.

I’ve been there more than once. If you have ever felt like that, you aren’t alone. Don’t give up on yourself.

A Life of Abundance

Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came so that we would have abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of meaning and joy. That is the kind of life that God intends for you to have. He didn’t say that you can only have this kind of life if you deserve it and never do anything wrong. He didn’t say that you’ve got to operate in a realm above the human realm to create and achieve this life for yourself. He simply said that He came so that you could have it.  

Your abundance is found in God through Jesus Christ. No matter what the world throws at you. No matter what Monday brings. It doesn’t even matter if you need to leave your own dreams behind. Whatever heartbreak you have faced has not changed the truth. Grief and loss can’t take away what Jesus came to give you. Your abundant life is in Him. Not in yourself! Not in your circumstances. Not in your loved ones, your dreams, your hopes. Abundant life is also not lost in the outcome of a failed plan or dream. What an eye-opening thing to finally learn!

The Freedom to Keep Trying

This doesn’t mean that you should quit trying to achieve anything on your own. It means just the opposite! Now you are free to pursue your hopes and dreams without the fear of failure because your worthiness and your abundance was never meant to be found in any of your personal accomplishments anyway. You are free to love with all your heart because death can’t steal your hope! You can dance in the rain because no storm can wash away the sacrifice already made for you.

Your Focus

Take your focus off yourself. That’s not what your life is supposed to be about. All you could ever hope to be can be found in your relationship with God. Yes, I said it. It’s not about you. You may be dangerously close to quitting on yourself. Don’t do that. The problem is relational. Pursue a relationship with God if you want to add meaning to your life.

 Matthew 6:33 says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If our focus is on Him, where it should be, and off ourselves, our lives will be full, and everything will fall into place just the way it’s supposed to. If our focus is on ourselves, we will always experience chaos and a feeling of off-centeredness because we were created for Him and by Him, and not to be self-serving.

The Truth

I believe that this is the truth that we should teach our children. If we want to equip them to be warriors in whatever battle comes their way, we must first introduce them to the source of their hope and life. We need to teach them as we learn ourselves that our identity should be first understood as a “child of God.” Whatever is next is not only secondary, but it’s also temporary.

Here’s what I believe to be the truth: the things you do for yourself on this earth are going to die with you anyway. The only things that you leave behind are what you do for other people.

The Prize

Knowing that my abundance is in Him is just the catalyst that I need to keep going, to keep plugging away and staying in the race even when it feels like I’m defeated. I can never be defeated if I’m running the right race—the one for His kingdom and in His design. It’s easy to fall back into the temptation of seeking to define my worth by earthly standards and how I feel, but the actual cold reality is none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that I keep my eyes on the prize.

This is the link to this post on Medium.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Go Buy Yourself a Shovel

shovel
It may be time to start digging up the real you!

https://images.pexels.com/photos/296230/pexels-photo-296230.jpeg?cs=srgb&dl=backyard-blur-close-up-296230.jpg&fm=jpg

So much pressure. This world comes full of it. Pressure to conform, pressure to excel, pressure to be different. Trying to wade through all of that can be overwhelming to say the least, especially when your life seems to depend on it.

At least your financial life.

What I’ve learned since I started writing is that I don’t really care if it brings me money. Well, let me clarify that! Making money is great, and I’m not going to ever turn it down. But it’s not the be all and end all of this writing thing.

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

I write because it’s in me to write. Does that make sense? I was born to write–to dig down deep and get my feelings on paper. For years I thought that my ability was a gift that I was supposed to hoard for myself. I didn’t realize that the only real way to keep something is to give it away. Then I thought–well, I’m too old to start now!

You Probably Don’t know Everything You Need to Know

It’s a learning process. And at my age I should know everything already (right?), but for 30 years I’ve just been sitting on all these words. I never made a real effort to share them with anyone else. My story needed to be shared. My words may help someone else through the darkness, or encourage someone who struggles.

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Now I don’t expect that I will normally dump my business on you this way, but I decided to go ahead and let you know that technology also sometimes mystifies me. Maybe that’s an age thing? I think sometimes that my four year old grandbaby can do more with it than I can. There’s always more to learn!

The Best Rewards are Not FINANCIAL

Having the wrong motivation was frustrating the creative process until I realized I wasn’t writing for money, but for the pure joy of giving something of myself for the benefit of others. It seems crazy, but it’s the absolute truth. I don’t write for financial gain. I write to share hope, insight, humor, and joy with others.

So, tonight I’m making changes and eating dark chocolate. I’m finding peace and comfort in helping other people. Money will never satisfy the need I have to make a difference. Here’s what else I’ve learned as I’ve been digging through this process:

It’s NOT About AGE

It doesn’t matter how old you are. If God’s given you a vision for your life AND the ability to pursue that vision, you don’t have the right to throw it in His face and say, “I’m afraid, so I’m just going to bury this over here until You come back.”

We aren’t “fine” accepting a mediocre life just because it’s easier than stepping out of our comfort zone! We aren’t “okay” if we’re making excuses or creating chaos to avoid taking charge of the situations we find ourselves miserable in. It isn’t our best life if it’s one someone else has created for us!

Your SHIP Hasn’t SAILED!

Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash

At my age, it would be easy (and expected) for me to say, “Oh well, I could’ve been more,” or “I could’ve…but that ship has sailed now!” Well, it HASN’T sailed for me! I still have dreams, and I believe I can make those dreams come true.

Are you going to let fear stop you? In the words of a person who I once knew, “YOU CAN’T BE SCARED ALL YOUR LIFE!” The only way to know if you can do something is to try!

It’s YOUR life and YOUR dream!

I don’t have to be stuck in someone else’s definition of what my life should be! I know what God has put on MY heart, and that is to pursue a ME that is better than the ME I used to be, so that’s what I am going to do.

My dream doesn’t diminish anyone else. In fact, the Bible says that no one lights a lamp to place it under a basket, but puts it on a stand so that it lights up the whole house (Matthew 5:15). The thing that light diminishes is darkness.

Some People Won’t Approve

If you’re doing what God has called you to do, it may scare some people. The closer you get to achieving your goals, the more they may think you don’t need them anymore. The ones closest to you may realize that in order to remain a part of your life, they’ll have to step up their own game!

If you’re being discouraged, consider that maybe the one who’s being negative has accepted the lies society and culture have thrown at them since they were old enough to catch! Remember that you can’t control other people. All you can do is work on you!

Photo by N. on Unsplash

It’s Not Too Late

It isn’t your job to try to convince anybody to get on board with your dreams and plans. NEWSFLASH! They don’t have to! You just use what God has given to you to do what He wants you to do. Live the life you were intended to live. If you’ve forgotten your vision, or if you’ve buried your dreams, go buy yourself a shovel and start digging. It’s not too late.

To read this story on Medium: https://medium.com/@allisondivinebridges/go-buy-yourself-a-shovel-33a461bb60c4