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Youth Talks - When You Feel Left Behind... Print E-mail
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Written by By Thamar Jones   
Thursday, 14 September 2017 00:00

What’s wrong with me? This is nuts. I should be so much further ahead by now.”

Do you ever feel like you are nowhere near as successful as you want to be; that you are just lagging in life? Based on your age, the ultimate vision you have for your life and the work you are putting in, sometimes you can’t help but feel left behind. Like, desperately behind. Looking around at friends and colleagues and even those who may have graduated the same year as you, pretty much confirms it. Just about everyone is leaving you in the dust. The proof? They’re establishing themselves in the same careers you’d hoped for, married, with their perfect child that they post non-stop. They are essentially living your dream life — just better, faster and first.

Meanwhile we (you and I), out here making a tragic mess of adulting.

I’ve been guilty of feeling this way, and I have had to learn that where I am is exactly where I need to be and to trust the timing of my life. If you ever feel like you’re always in last place then try these 4 things that have helped me to refocus and get my attitude back on track.

1. Stop social comparisons.

Comparison is the biggest reason many of us feel “less-than” or like we’re falling behind. If we weren’t so wrapped up in comparing, we would probably feel pretty good about where we are at in life right now.

I am a 25 year old woman, I travel, I have experienced several different countries and cultures, I have the freedom and access to resources to do a lot of the things that I want to do. But sometimes I feel like I’m lagging when I compare myself to certain people in my life. Take for instance, a comparison between myself and my favorite female cousin; she is also 25, she has 2 beautiful children and a loving family oriented spouse.  It can sometimes feel like I’m failing when I see her spending time with her growing family and working with her husband to build their family business. Sometimes, it can be hard watching others experiencing what we feel like we should have too.  But the reality is that I love my life. I made choices that ensured that my life would be one that is filled with adventure, peace, and personal growth and I love it every single day. It is only when the comparison starts that I begin to feel outpaced. So resist the urge to compare. Love your choices. Love your detours and trust the timing of your own path.

2. Focus on today.

Another very common reason we might feel like we’re falling behind in life is because we’re either too focused on what we want to happen in the future or dwelling on past regrets. We have to make a very conscious choice to do what we can just for today and not overthink it too much.

I have huge goals for myself in the not-so-distant future and that can feel incredibly overwhelming—especially if I’m not meeting my milestones along the way. I can have the best-laid plans, but something seems to always come up to throw me into a detour.

By getting too hyper-focused on plans, goals, and expectations, we set ourselves up for massive disappointment. When things just aren’t going our way, we need to remember that it’s happening this way for a reason. Being mindful during life’s detours (instead of resentful) can help us appreciate and understand that it’s happening to teach us something important and make us better prepared for when we are closing in on our big goals.

3. Make gratitude a daily practice.

A very simple way we can all bring ourselves out of the dumps is to remember all of the little reasons to be thankful. In the morning (before I get caught up in my to-do list), I allow myself to feel blessed to wake up another day feeling good about where I’m at in life. I contemplate all of the interesting things that may happen during the upcoming hours of the day. As I lay in bed in the evening, I’m grateful for a warm place to sleep and a good book to read. I reflect on the things that made my day just a little brighter.

4. Add value to others regularly.

When we’re feeling low, the last thing we often want to do is help someone else. We might feel like we have nothing to offer anyone. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to one study, being kind (which happens when we’re helping others) is linked to greater happiness and motivation to perform. Recounting our kindness throughout the week also increases our happiness.

I spend some time volunteering by s mentoring at-risk children. For one hour each week, I stopped thinking about how my life didn’t match up to where I thought it should be. Instead, I was focused on being of service to the kids who needed me the most.

Not only does someone else benefit from our service, but we also profit by interrupting the pattern of self-centeredness. By giving away our time to others, we can come back to our lives feeling reenergized with purpose and focused on what we can do to keep moving forward.

Did any of these practices resonate with you? What do you do when you find yourself facing major setbacks?