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Tired of Waiting? How to Thrive When Your Life Feels On Hold

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” ~Johann Wolfang von Goethe

Silence. Not a word.

Another day is over. The news you were waiting for didn’t arrive.

Everyone else around you keeps moving. They know where they’re going.

You don’t. You watch the days go by and think of all the things you could have done. You feel like you’re wasting your time.

It seems pretty pointless. You’re not where you want to be.

Sometimes we have to wait. You left one job, but the next one is not yet here. You want to go back to the soccer field, but your injury is not yet healed. You’re stuck in a city you just want to leave behind. Or you just simply don’t know what to do next.

In May, my husband and I moved across the world from Germany, my home for over twenty-five years, to Canada, his home country. We had already applied for permanent residence for me months before we came.

Give it a few weeks and it will arrive, we thought. Then I could start looking for a job. Start my career. Move forward.

Weeks became months. August came and I was still hopeful. I checked the mailbox every day. Maybe today we would hear something. But still nothing.

The heat of summer started to fade and I became more anxious. I was expecting to hear the big news any day, but the leaves turned colorful and pumpkins popped up in the stores and I still hadn’t received my permit.

Over the course of a summer and a fall, I was watching my friends moving forward. Applying for new jobs, preparing for interviews, getting promoted. Friends from Germany I graduated with were starting their careers. Some of them started a family.

I was waiting. And the longer the waiting continued, the more anxious I got. As a twenty-seven-year-old graduate, I felt like I had no time to waste.

Even more, I was ready to work. Apply what I’ve learned. Improve my skillset. Learn new things. Contribute to a cause. Be part of something. Instead, I had to wait. I felt slowed down. Left behind.

But as fall came, something in me started to change slowly. I started to come to terms with my circumstances. My situation hadn‘t changed; I had. I realized that there were five things that, with the help of my husband and family, helped me turn this waiting period around.

1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

This first point is crucial.

Some mornings you might not even want to get out of bed. What for? Even if you do, you feel no motivation to get anything started or done. What’s the point?

It might seem like life has hit the pause button, but life is still happening. And it is still up to you what you do with your circumstances.

So focus on what you can do. Live. Right now. Every day. Don’t make this all about the wait. Make it about you. Then there is really no reason to feel sorry at all.

2. Watch your mouth.

Words are powerful, even if they aren’t said out loud. The way you think and talk about your situation will determine how you feel about it.

In the evening, when my husband asked me what I did that day, I quite often said, “Nothing, really.” Of course I had done a lot of things every day. What I really meant was: “I did a lot of things, but they don’t count.” They didn’t count in my head because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. It’s not what I though I should be doing.

Silly, I know. And my husband would call me on it, which eventually changed my language. And that eventually changed my perspective on things.

Share your crappy feelings with people. Be honest with them. But make sure these are people who help you. Who challenge you. Who don’t let you sit in it.

Guard your thoughts when you are alone. Don’t allow yourself to sit in your negative feelings. Put a visual reminder on your desk. A quote maybe. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Have a copy of it in your wallet.

You might not be where you want to be in the long run, but that’s life. It takes time. As long as you are on the right path, every step counts. And if you don’t know where your path is going, you were just given the perfect opportunity to find out!

3. Don’t make excuses.

It’s easy to find reasons not to do things. Especially when you’re waiting. Because what you really want is just around the corner. The present is just a weird in-between-space.

Wrong. Now is the time to try new things. To step out of your comfort zone. To discover new passions and gifts.

In the past months, I taught myself more about cameras and video editing, I took a guest blogging course, I started to take on a few creative projects around the house, I connected to new people in the city, and I explored my new home.

Some of it might help my career. Some of it was purely for enjoyment. But everything I did helped me to learn—what I enjoy, what I am good at, how I want to live my life.

So pick one thing you want to do. A creative project. A class. Your own book. Start it. Commit to it. Don’t be scared that it’s going to take you a lot of time. Let it take you out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to know yet where it’s going to take you.

4. Don’t compare.

So you’ve tried all of the above. You’ve done good work. You feel great.

But then you start comparing yourself to the people around you. Friends, family, coworkers.

Of course, you pick the ones who aren’t in a similar situation. Those who know exactly what they want. Those who just did the big move out of the city. Those who just got a job.

Don’t. I know it’s hard, because it feels like it’s being rubbed in your face: you’re not there yet. And the whole cycle of feeling sorry for yourself, negative words, and cheap excuses starts again.

Be happy for these people. Remember that one day, it’s going to be you. It’s just going to take a few extra steps. That’s fine. Because until then, there are plenty of opportunities and lots of life to live.

One thing that helps me is to stay away from certain people and groups on social media. I don’t blame people for posting about all the awesome things that happen in their lives. I just know my weak spot. I know I instantly compare myself. So I unfollowed a bunch of people to avoid it, for my own sake.

5. Keep moving.

You know that exercising keeps you healthy. It makes you strong and helps you stay in shape. But it also improves your mood and your sleep. It reduces stress and anxiety. It helps your brain to function better.

You, of all people, want a functioning brain. For all the reasons listed above. That’s why you need to move your physical body in this period of waiting.

Find the way to workout that works best for you. I used to run a lot, so I bought myself a new pair of runners. When I am overwhelmed with my situation, I put them on and run it off.

It can be as simple or fancy as you like—just do it. Sign up for a gym class. Join a soccer team. Go for long walks. Do yoga with the help of some YouTube videos.

Of course, this point will look differently for you if you’re waiting is caused by a physical injury. You’re doctor and physiotherapist have probably told you already what exercises and how much of it will help your body to recover.

In any case, commit to exercising. Make time for it. Stick with it.

You Can Do It

Waiting sucks. Especially when there is no end in sight and you’ve done everything you can.

But changing the way you approach this waiting period can make all the difference.

Imagine achieving a goal taking one step every single day.

Imagine learning a new skillset that will help you when you can finally take the next step.

Imagine discovering a new passion that will determine the way your life is going.

Start by trying one of the steps above tomorrow morning when you get out of bed.

Try a different step every day. Keep those that work and lose those that don’t.

You can make this period of waiting in your life a personal success!

About Julia Cousens

Julia Cousens is a European at heart who followed love to beautiful Vancouver, Canada. She is a professional communicator with a degree in protestant theology. Apart from that, she enjoys all things soccer-related, traveling, reading, and baking. She blogs about her journey on Instagram and can be found on Linkedin.

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  • KajalNehra

    I am going through something very similar. I can feel and empathize with each word in your post, and feel alone and stuck, not moving anywhere. This has also made me extremely impatient and in an overall dwindling mood.

    I have the support of the loved ones and they do keep pushing me to exercise just to lift my spirits while I wait. And I guess the reason it is so hard to bring myself to do it, is because I keep feeling sorry for myself or make excuses, fooling myself by saying ‘I’ll do it tomorrow, I feel to low to do it today.’

    But reading this helps and it has more of an effect on someone in need than you probably would have imagined.

    Thank you so much. I’m glad you wrote it and I read it. Life is what you make of it. I plan on making something great out of it.

    I wish with this new year, you soon get the happy news, success and experience pure bliss throughout. 🙂

  • First as a Canadian, I would like to welcome you. I once lived in Vancouver and it is a beautiful city. Also, I relate to this article. I feel, in fact, that I’m always going through the waiting game for one reason or another. It’s almost as if I’m waiting for my ‘real’ life to start and this is also a lesson I’ve had to learn, although it certainly wasn’t easy. Some days, it’s still not. Beautiful article. Thank you.

  • Ann

    Wow Absolutely spot on! I’m a 29 year old single woman currently jobless with a chronic illnesses and has toxic family. I resonate with everything you said. Infact i am always in a constant stress to ‘catch up’ with the mile stones. Sometimes no amount of pep talk help the matter either. It is good to know someone out there sharing the same feelings as mine & using their positive outlook to deal with it. I hope you get settled in Canada soon & have a great life ahead!

  • Julia Cousens

    Ann, thank you so much for sharing from your heart! I hope that 2018 is a very good year for you and that you can be easy on yourself with these mile stones.

  • Julia Cousens

    Thank you for the warm welcome and sharing from your personal experience, Michelle! Happy New Year! 🙂

  • Julia Cousens

    So glad to hear that this post was encouraging for you to read, and I hope that your situation changes for the better soon. It’s great that you are supported by people you love, that makes all the difference. Keep up the good work in 2018!

  • A W

    Wow, I’m the same age as you and this article resonated with me in so many ways. I’m at the period of my life where I’m in this weird, in-between stage but during these past few years, I’ve learned to truly enjoy the present and use this time for exploring/learning. The thing about watching your thoughts and words is so crucial. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I go about my day.

  • Mayssaeee

    Hi Julia, Thank you because you shared this article about your waiting with us. I’m waiting to move abroad and sometimes I feel this day will never come and this made me down, but honestly wourkout help me a lot. Was a good idea to start my morning today reading your article.
    Happy New Year

  • You said so many phenomenal things in this article! Focusing on what you can do. Watching your thoughts. Until then there are plenty of opportunities. While we are waiting for our dreams or working towards them we don’t have to miss the beauty on the way. I discovered this in my life when things changed uncontrollably. I learned that life is more about enjoying the journey on the way to our dreams. Although some people seem to be able to control the direction of their lives and things work out for them in a big way, it doesn’t go that way for a lot of us. We don’t always get what we want. But we might find out that what we want isn’t as good as what we get! Best Wishes!

  • Angela Angie Kurtz

    I just wane cry when i read this i feel like i am playing a part in a movie that was not made for me i wane scream.

  • Angela Angie Kurtz

    I always feel this way waiting for someone to press play.

  • I know what you mean. I try my best to get out there and get things accomplished but sometimes it feels like it’s in slow motion. ☺️

  • I used to say that I felt like an ‘extra’ in someone else’s moving – I so hear you!

  • Julia Cousens

    Well said, Patty! Thank you for taking the time and sharing this with us.

  • Julia Cousens

    Happy New Year to you as well! I really hope that you will be able to move soon, but until then I wish you all the patience in the world. Stay strong!

  • Julia Cousens

    Thank you!

  • Mayssaeee

    Thank you soo much Dear Julia!