5 solutions for when you ‘Hit the Wall’ in life

5 min read

Education & Career Trends: March 21, 2023

Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS


Everyone experiences ‘hitting the wall’ at some point in their lives

  • Excerpts are taken from an article published on psychologytoday.com

Marathon runners talk about hitting the wall, usually about 20+ miles into the race—the feeling that they can’t go on, they’re exhausted, or are looking ahead to the next six miles and wondering, Why am I doing this?

However, everyone can experience hitting the wall at some point in their lives. Examples include working hard for a job promotion or the next step up their career ladder but realising that it might not come; dieting for weeks or months and seeing fluctuating results but no real change; and feeling like your best efforts aren’t helping your relationship improve. You’re worn out, prepared to give up, and believe that your aspirations and objectives will never come true.

But like most things in life, hitting the wall isn’t the actual issue; rather, it’s the result of another concern which really is the core problem.

The five basic sources are:

1: Your progress graph has flattened.

The wall at 20 miles is something that experienced runners are prepared for and know they must push through. But it’s also true about diets or exercise—initial success and then some levelling off as your body regulates itself—or about learning curves—making a lot of progress when starting out learning a new skill, such as a language or musical instrument—but then it seems like you make no progress for a few days or weeks; the same thing even happens in therapy.

Antidote: Be prepared for it and be familiar with the circumstances. This is a component of growth and change. Continue steady progression.

2: You are experiencing burnout.

Most of the runners are probably physically fatigued, but others may be much more so since they launched out too hastily. This has to do with the pace that overtakes you. You’ve been pushing and working overtime on your job, hoping for that promotion, but now, like the runners, you’re worn out and discouraged. You have been giving the relationship your best effort for months, carrying the emotional burden, and now you feel you have nothing more to give. You’ve tried to stick to a strict diet, eating just soup and crackers, or exercising twice daily, but you’re emotionally unable to.

Antidote: You have been exerting too much energy, so stop. It’s time to pace yourself and take it easy.

3: Your skill set has depleted.

You’ve done all you can to make your career, diet, and relationship work, but nothing is succeeding. Your skill set could be at its limit.

Antidote: Time to get some outside help: A life coach or therapist to help you sort out your true career goals and understand where you get stuck; a dietitian to help you create a meal plan; or individual therapy to help you communicate better, control your emotions, or negotiate win-win compromises.

4: Other people are obstructing your progress.

You are giving your best effort, but others are not reciprocating or even acknowledging your efforts. Your supervisor doesn’t appear to be aware that you put in extra hours. You feel ganged up on and disheartened.

Antidote: Have a heart-to-heart with the people in your life; talk to your supervisor or send an email to them to let them know what you’ve been doing and what you need. You’re treading water because of others. Time to go proactive, and assertively let these others know how you feel and what you need. Don’t passively keep accepting what you’re getting.

5: Your wall is a moving target.

Here you’re feeling stuck, but it comes and goes—good days, bad days, making progress, then feeling like you’re getting nowhere. If problems go up and down, often the real culprit isn’t the problem but your state of mind, your attitude, or a different underlying problem. You felt discouraged about the diet today, but yesterday you thought it was working. You feel good about your career, but the last few days, you’re worried you’ll never get where you ultimately want to go.

Antidote: Why today and not yesterday? That is what you want to be curious about. Everyone has an Achilles Heel—what we are most sensitive to under stress—and this may be yours—your frustration with your career, your body image. Instead of obsessing about those problems, try and figure out what else might be triggering it—as simple as you haven’t slept well or have a cold, or you’re anxious about the new assignment at work. If there’s something there to fix, fix it—get more sleep or take better care of yourself, and talk to your supervisor about the assignment.

Learning is never a straight-ahead process; relationships are never entirely in your control. When you hit a wall, it’s time to stop and find the cause.


Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

How using the STAR method can help you ace your interviews


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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