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.
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 not reaching the goals you set for yourself isn’t always a bad thing.
It’s the journey.
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 that 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!
Also published here.