Is there a time in your life when you feel stuck? The days go by like yesterday, and tomorrow looks to be the same as today. It seems like an endless grind with no light at the end of it. But can you do something different? Can you change your situation? Ask yourself the question, what is my alternative path?

Being stuck means that there are no open paths moving forward. They are either closed off or you can’t even see them. At this point, there are three actions you can take:

  1. Stay put,
  2. unlock a path, or
  3. forge a new one.

Staying put

Why is not moving forward even an option?“, you may ask. This can be better illustrated using an example.

Let’s say you are not satisfied with your investment portfolio, and want to pursue other asset classes. In order to do this, you need to check first if you are able to participate in those assets. You want to get yourself involved in real estate investing, but do not have the capital nor the experience to do it. Do you get into it by borrowing money, believing you will get it back (and more) by flipping the property? That would be a bad idea, especially since you have no experience in the market in the first place.

In this case, it is more prudent to stay put and build your capital first so you don’t get yourself into a deeper hole by going into debt. Are there other available investments that you can participate right now that do not require large amounts of money? For example, you can buy Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and get exposure to the real estate market without the need for leverage.

It’s ok to stay put while building the means to open a path. If you don’t have the capacity or capability to act, then don’t. The fear of missing out is real, and it can lead you to ruin. There are times when the most sensible action is to miss out on things.

Business opportunities are like buses — there’s always another one coming along

Richard Branson

Unlock a path

If there is a path that you can see, but it is locked, what do you do? That depends on whether you can unlock it or not. If you can unlock it, if you already have the key in your hand, are you still paralyzed by perfection, fearing that the key does not work or you will not like what lies beyond?

When you feel stuck at your current job, can you replace it immediately? Are your skills in high demand, making companies easy to hire you, or do you need to improve your skills first?

If you are able to unlock a path, then do it! If you think you are not happy where you are right now, then going to a new path may lead to eventual happiness. Or maybe not! You might even see that the outcome isn’t what you expected. In that case, that path where you came from is still open and there is nothing stopping you from going back.

What if you have no means to unlock the path? But is it really the case? Be honest with yourself: is it because of your limitations, or is it because you haven’t done the work needed to unlock it? If it is the former, then there is no shame in staying put. But if those limitations are self-inflicted, then you have no one else to blame for your situation than yourself.

Forge a new one

If all of the paths you see are locked beyond your ability, and you refuse to stay put, then the only alternative is this: creating your own path.

This is the hardest choice of the three as it requires both courage and determination. There is a reason no one wants to go off the beaten path. The journey isn’t easy: it is riddled with stones and sharp, tall grass. Every step is a constant struggle. You hack your way inch my inch, all while not seeing clearly what is ahead. Being the only one going this way is frustrating, exhausting, and lonely.

But with that hardship also comes the greatest satisfaction. Once you reach the place where you decide to stay put, you can bask in the glory of being the first to arrive. This is the riskiest alternative, but it is also the most rewarding. The entire pie is yours to take.

And looking back, you can see the path that you created. It has now become a new path for others to take; for others to follow your footsteps.

Photo by Ron Lach

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