Self

If You Always Feel "Stuck" In Life, Here's What You're Doing Wrong

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woman thinking deeply

I'm free. I do what I want and go where I want. I can work from anywhere in the world, I travel a lot, and I have no anchors that keep me stuck in any port.

Even if I woke up tomorrow and decided that I no longer want to write, I could do that. And I can guarantee you that if the mood ever strikes, I will. I'll just throw in the towel and move on to something else.

But while I'm able to do this now, it took a huge leap of faith to get here in the first place.

According to a 2000 article by psychologist Barry Schwartz, he says, "I think it's only a slight exaggeration to say that for the first time in human history, in the contemporary United States large numbers of people can live exactly the kind of lives they want, unconstrained by material, economic, or cultural limitations."

Yet, despite this observation on his part, people are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression than they would at the turn of the century when freedom and happiness weren't so easy.

What is that?

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Simply, we are paralyzed when we're forced to make a choice because we don't know where it will lead us. To some, it almost feels safer to stay in a dead-end job, with a lackluster boyfriend, and to continue along with everything else that could be attributed to a less than extraordinary life.

Fear keeps us from taking steps forward and upward.

A 1992 study tested this theory with CD players (you know, the 90s were all about CD players and Walkmans, man). One group was given the opportunity to purchase a CD player that was on sale for $99 and had to be purchased that day. Another group was given the option to buy the $99 that day, or an even better player that was on sale for $159, also that day.

In the first group, two-thirds of the people said they'd make that purchase immediately, while one-third chose to defer. In the second group, because each CD player was a bargain in its own right, half the participants chose to defer their decision.

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The problem was that each one looked good, but OMG, what if I choose wrong? It's in these situations that that aforementioned paralysis kicks in and it feels better just to walk away and not make any decision at all. It's the "what if?" that gets us.

But the thing with life is that no matter which road you choose, the journey and the ending have yet to be decided.

You could stay in your dead-end career because it feels secure, but end up getting hit by a bus on the way to work one morning a year from now. Ultimately, there really are no safe options.

When I decided to quit my full-time office manager job to become a full-time freelance writer, I was taking a risk. I knew that I'd wanted to be a writer from the time I was very little. And since that was the reason I moved to New York City, after years of fearing it, I just went for it.

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It could've ended up failing and, honestly, it still could. I don't know and I'm OK with that. But what I learned from that was that living life and experiencing new things suits me far better than sitting around griping about things, and waiting for life to happen to me.

It was when I freed myself from the life that I didn't want that I became a better version of myself and felt completely whole.

I realize not everyone is in the position to do exactly that at the drop of the hat, but making baby steps toward the life you want is something everyone can do and should do.

You don't want to be one of those people who wakes up at 70 and realizes they should've and could've lived their life exactly how they wanted, but just never did. That is not the legacy anyone wants to leave behind.

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Amanda Chatel is a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post, and others. Follow her on Twitter.

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