Feeling Stuck? Learn How To Create Growth In Your Life Today

When you go for a walk, do you usually wear earbuds?

Do you usually listen to a podcast, or an audible book, or some music?

I do.

But recently, I’ve started incorporating an earbud-free walk each week.

It’s part of my 30-day mindfulness and meditation challenge, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

It gives my brain space to wander.

It provides quiet time to reflect.

And it opens my mind to explore new thoughts and ideas. 

On my walk this week, I was especially inspired by the beauty of fall’s changing leaves.

And it had me thinking about our own growth, transformation, and change, even when we’re feeling stuck.

In episode 63 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I share three powerful lessons that I learned on this walk to help us get unstuck, move forward, and foster positive growth in our lives. 

Give it a listen, and make the last quarter of this year your most transformative yet.

You can listen to episode 63 below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

Listen To The Podcast Here!

In This Episode, You Will Discover… 

  • Three powerful lessons to help you get unstuck and generate change
  • How to use these lessons in your everyday life
  • Simple questions to ask yourself to foster growth and transformation as you reach your next goal

Links From The Podcast

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Episode 63: Feeling Stuck? Learn How To Create Growth In Your Life Today (Transcript)

You’re listening to the I’m busy being awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 63.

Hey everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Thanks for tuning into another episode of I’m busy being awesome. What’s going on in your neck of the woods? 

I just got back from going on a walk. And recently, I have been trying to walk without music or without podcasts, without audible in my ears, a couple of times a week. This is part of my stillness and mindfulness practice that I mentioned in the last episode.

So, first of all, thank you to all of you who have checked in. I am still sticking with it. I’m still practicing. And I appreciate your accountability. You are awesome.

Walking Meditation

Anyway, as I mentioned, I just got back from my walk without any kind of sound in my ears – I was just letting my mind wander – and I had some different ideas come to me. And as I walked around the neighborhood, I ended up reflecting on them from several different angles and found some valuable lessons about growth, transformation, and change, which I wanted to share with you today.

Now, I’ve decided to keep these lessons a little bit more open-ended rather than super prescriptive. As I mentioned, I was inspired by a couple of different things that I observed on this walk, and I personally drew a lot of different connections between what I was seeing in nature to both challenges and goals in my personal life as well as our lives as a collective whole in our world. And I hope that you’ll be able to draw connections to the events in your own life, too.

So – let’s dive in.

Growth, Transformation, and Changing Leaves

The first thing I was thinking about while I was out walking was the gradually changing leaves. 

I think I mentioned a couple of episodes ago that New England is literally the best place to be in the fall. The leaves are simply gorgeous. And this morning was the first time I noticed some real shifts in color. It was one of those situations where, for months, everything had been exactly the same. All of the trees had that deep green of late summer.

And then, seemingly overnight, things began changing. And suddenly you have this wide range of colors with shades from that deep summer green all the way to that bold fiery red and golden yellow and bright orange.

I absolutely love this transition time. Some trees stubbornly hold on to the deep green. They’re quite not ready to change. They’re quite not ready to make that transition. And they’re certainly not ready to think about dropping their leaves. While other trees make the leap almost instantly. They jump right into that fire engine red, and the deep golds, and bold oranges.  

And then a lot of the trees are in this in-between state. They’re still shifting. They’re still transitioning. Maybe some of the leaves have turned. Maybe half of the leaves are slowly changing, but they haven’t made that complete transition yet.

And as I was looking at these leaves, I started thinking more broadly about our own transitions in life. I thought about the different ways that we approach growth and change.

Ask Yourself These Questions

And I started asking myself, “where in my life am I still really holding on to my green leaves? Where am I still in that deep green of sticking with what I know? Where am I staying with what’s familiar? Or where am I maintaining the “status quo” of what’s been “normal” for a long time?”

And perhaps more importantly, why am I still holding on? Is it simply not my time yet? Do these leaves just turn a little bit later in the season? Or am I holding on for a different reason?

Of course, with trees, I can’t imagine an answer other than, it’s just not the right time in the season. But for us as humans, I think we can hold onto those familiar areas perhaps “past season.” So is that the case for me? Am I holding on to what’s familiar past its season?

And alternatively, where is it in my life that have I made the bold shift to the bright, new colorful stage? Where have I already made that transition into the next season? Where in my life have I already made that change? 

And finally, where is it in my life where I am still in transition? Where have I not fully adopted the new version of myself, and I am still shifting and figuring things out? Where am I still “stuck in the maybe?” 

And these questions were really illuminating for me on several different levels. Not only did they help me identify where I am in transition and where I want to make changes, but they also helped me recognize the bold and colorful transformations that I have made over the past year. It helped me pause and acknowledge them.

And I encourage you to think about these three seasons in your life, too. 

Where are you still in the deep green of what’s familiar? Where have you made the bold transition into the next season of your life? And where are you still in transition? Whatever you find is exactly right. There aren’t “good” places to be or “bad” places to be.

Instead, you’re simply gathering data. You’re taking inventory of where you’re at right now, at this moment.

Resisting Change

Coming from a slightly different angle, I was also thinking about the changing leaves in terms of our acceptance or resistance of change generally.

You see, for me, I can think of periods in my life – especially during challenging experiences or situations – where I thought to myself, “Oh. My. Gosh. This is going to go on forever. It seems like it is never going to end.”

And chances are you can probably relate to this thought process as well, either personally or as a broader collective: “Things are never going to change. We are never going to get out of this situation or experience. I am never going to get out of this particular circumstance. It’s always going to be the same, etc.” 

And as I was walking, I thought about one of the most beautiful lessons that nature teaches us, over and over, season after season. And the lesson is that those thoughts of: “things are never going to change” simply are not true.

We see this with nature itself, right? The seasons keep changing. The days get shorter. The temperatures get cooler. The animals start preparing for winter. Things keep moving along. 

And by remembering this – remembering that things are changing – even when it seems like we’re stuck – helps me keep moving forward. In fact, it even helps me start finding the change. 

Feeling Stuck

Because when I hear myself thinking something like, “we are stuck here forever. This is hopeless.” I am able to pause and question that thought. I can stop that catastrophizing in its tracks and think to myself: “wait a minute. That’s not true. I know things are changing. There must be some change here. Where have I seen the change? And where have I seen the transformations? Where have I seen those subtle shifts in color as we continue moving forward into this next season? Where is it in my life that the leaves are transitioning from green to gold? 

And I invite you to explore these same questions. Where are you feeling stuck? Do you have an area in your life where it seems like no matter what you do, things never change? If so, question that. Where can you find the change? Where can you find evidence that you have moved forward? If you want to move forward, then challenge yourself to identify those moments and start focusing on the growth rather than the stasis. As we talked about in a previous episode, what you focus on grows.

And on the other side of the coin, are there areas in your life where you’re worried about change? I know for me personally, there are areas where – if I’m not careful – I try to simply hold onto the familiar, even if it’s not what I ultimately want. I hold tightly onto moments that are easy and comfortable because I might be nervous about the next chapter. Perhaps I’m worried about the unknown or the unfamiliar, so I grasp tightly onto the deep green. I cling to the warmth, the relative flexibility, and familiarity of the summer season. 

Ask Yourself These Questions

What about you? Are you holding onto something simply because it’s familiar or safe? Again, nothing has gone wrong if you are. But bringing awareness to it, and making sure you like your reasons for doing so is important. 

And if you are in that transition period, and you are working through the discomfort of unfamiliarity and change, then you might also ask yourself: how can I enjoy these moments despite the challenges? How can I enjoy this transition period? How can I make the most of this situation?

Find the Joy

For example, my city decided not to do trick or treating this year. They want to make sure that people are practicing social distancing, and they want to make sure that people are staying as safe as possible. And one of the things that I love about my neighborhood is that despite the discomfort of this transition period. Despite the discomfort of change and unfamiliarity, they’re still finding ways to celebrate.

They are still decorating the outside of their houses. They’re still putting out pumpkins and scarecrows and hay bales. We even have a couple of houses that always go all in. They put up the spooky ghosts and have spiders hanging from the trees, and they completely transform their house into what looks like a spooky haunted house. They’re not letting the fact that we’re not trick or treating slow down or stop their joy of decorating and celebrating the season. 

So even in these moments of transition. Even in these moments of change that might be challenging. How can we find joy and create joy and make the most of the moment, no matter what we’re facing?

Lessons From Squirrels

And then the last thing I was thinking about on my walk was actually inspired by a squirrel who was on the front step of my porch when I got back home. 

Now, a little backstory is that I have a huge walnut tree in my backyard. And once the walnuts start dropping in the fall, the squirrels get busy burying those walnuts everywhere. And they especially love to bury them in the big planters that I have sitting next to my front steps. 

They spend all autumn scurrying around my yard – driving Bruno CRAZY, by the way – preparing for the winter. 

Now, I was thinking about how these squirrels don’t really have any idea of what’s coming next for them. They don’t know what the winter holds. They don’t know if it’s going to be a super cold winter or a super snowy winter and that they’ll need every buried walnut they have. Or if it will be a mild and rainy season and they’re just doing all this work for nothing. They have no idea.

And what’s more, they’re not worried about that. They’re not stuck in what-if. They’re not procrastinating. They are not busy catastrophizing. And they’re certainly not stuck in maybe. 

Instead, they’re doing what they need to do. They are preparing for what they expect will happen, and they’re setting themselves up for success. They’re hooking their future self up. They are creating a situation so that winter squirrel three months from now when it’s January and negative 20 degrees can look back and say, “Hey, thanks Fall squirrel. Thanks for hooking me up. Thanks for working so hard in October so that I’m now comfy and full and safe in my little squirrel house in January (honestly, I have no idea where they live, but you get the idea, right?) Anyway… thanks for taking care of me. Thanks for doing the hard work now – even though you don’t want to – so that I’m taken care of in the future.

Your Future Self

And again, this had me thinking about how I’m setting my future self up for success. It had me looking for the areas in my life where I’m putting in the hard work now so that future Paula six months from now, 12 months from now, five years from now can to look back and say, “Hey, Paula. You’re a rockstar. Thank you. Thank you for working so hard to create this life for future me.”

Another way to explore that question is to ask yourself, “how am I living as if I am future me five years from now? How am I living into the person I want to be three months from now, 12 months from now, three years from now? How am I living into my future self? And how am I setting her up for success? 

Just like the squirrels, we don’t know with 100% certainty what the future’s going to bring. We don’t have the exact step-by-step blueprint yet. But we do have control over how we show up. We do have control over what we do. We do have the ability to hook our future self up so that they look back and say, “Heck yeah, lady. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for doing the hard things. And thank you for making this amazing life possible.”

And I invite you to think about these areas in your life this week.

Three Powerful Lessons Recap

Think about where it is in your life that you’re in the familiarity and comfort of the green summer leaves? Where have you already made the bold transformation into the fall red and gold leaves? And where are you still transitioning from one to the next?

Then think about the areas in your life where you’re feeling stuck. Where does it seem like things will never change? And challenge yourself to find evidence of the contrary. 

Aternatively, where are you in the discomfort of transition, and how can you find the joy make the most of an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation?

And finally, think of your future self. Where is she in 3-6 months from now? Where is she 1 year from now? And where is she 5 years from now? And how can you be like the busy fall squirrel and set that future self up for success?

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