7 Simple Steps to Get Out of A Bad Situation

It happens to all of us - one way or another, we wake up one morning, and realize we're stuck in a bad situation.

Depending on our personalities, we may have thoughts like "well, other people are fine with this," or "maybe I haven't tried hard enough to make this work."

To every one of those thoughts and their insidious friends, I offer one important truth:

You only have 80 years on this spinning ball in the middle of space - if you're lucky. Whatever you think or feel about your life - is right.

If you're in a situation that's unhealthy, not serving you, or is just generally bad, it's your right to get out.

Here's how to do it.

1. Recognize it.

If you've already had your wake-up-in the morning feeling, you can skip ahead to Step 2. But if you've just got some general misery or a nagging feeling you can't put your finger on, here's how to identify the cause.

Write it out.

Start by taking 10 minutes and removing all distractions. Silence your phone and put it far away. Turn off your computer. Move away from other people and distractions.

Then, in those 10 minutes, start writing about that nagging feeling, the general misery, or the things that bug you.

Let yourself really dig in. Jump around, find the pain points in your own life, and get them down on paper.

Then, once you've got a solid list, take a step back and look it over. Pick one specific situation that's your biggest problem, and circle it.

Awesome. We've got the specific situation we're going to get out of. It's time to do something about it.

2. Describe it.

Write out a catalog of your current situation, as if you were describing it to an outsider. What it is about your situation that isn't good? Make a list, as long and specific as you can. Get clear, and get it out.

When you're done, look back at your list, and make sure it covers:

  • What actions do I regularly take in this situation?
  • What am I physically surrounded by?
  • What sort of people am I surrounded by?
  • What are other salient qualities of my environment?
  • How do I feel in this situation?
  • What sorts of things do I spend my time thinking about?

Alright, great work. We've dug into the bad. Now it's time for some good.

3. Find a better situation.

Now, you're going to use your imagination and make something up. Don't worry about realistic or how you're going to get there. For this step, suspend your disbelief and tell your awesome how brain to take a break. Unleash your imagination.

Just like before, make a really detailed list of what a good situation would look like. As before, be as specific as you can. If find yourself stuck or looking for a place to start, this is a great time to break out your best me techniques.

Write long, dream big - and be specific.

When you're done, read it over, and make sure you've covered:

  • What actions do I regularly take in this situation?
  • What am I physically surrounded by?
  • What sort of people am I surrounded by?
  • What are other salient qualities of my environment?
  • How do I feel in this situation?
  • What sorts of things do I spend my time thinking about?

Alright. We've got the good situation. It's time to get moving.

4. Take one small step toward it.

Look at your bad situation and your good situation. Comparing them, think of one very tiny step you could take to move from bad to good. Something small. Tiny. Something you can do in the next five minutes.

Then, do it. Right now.

When you're done, move on to step 5.

5. Write out your next three steps.

With that one small win under your belt, write out the next three things you'd need to do to move towards your good situation. Only pick three, and don't worry about the big picture - just focus on the three next things that would move you from where you are, to your good situation.

Then, tick them off, one by one.

6. Rinse and repeat.

Great job. You've now got all the tools you need to get out of your situation and into something better. Now, it's time to put them into action.

Once you've finished your three things, go back and repeat steps 4 and 5. Do one small, quick thing, then write out the next three steps. Keep this pattern rolling, and before you know it, you'll be clear of your bad situation, and closing in on your good one.

It's that simple, and it really works. And once you're in a better place - there's one more step.

7. Prevent yourself from going back.

Here's a truth about the bad situations in our lives - they have an ugly habit of showing up over and over again.

But they don't have to. Bad situations show up over and over largely because of our habits - but by setting up a flag, we can make sure we're alerted any time we head down the bad path. Once we're aware, we can choose to avoid the bad stuff, and keep our lives on the tracks we want. Let's dig into how.

Look back at your lists from Step 1 and 2. Think back on the situation you used to be in. How did you get there? From the good place you're in now, what advice would you give your future self to make sure you don't end up there again? Go ahead and make a list.

From that list, pick one or two critical moments where getting a heads-up would most help future you. Those critical heads-ups are our flags. They're there to break you out of your routine, and give you a clear warning that you're heading into bad territory.

Once you've got your flags, put them into place in a way that you'd run into if you start to head down into your bad situation again. Maybe it's a monthly calendar reminder to take stock, maybe it's a physical card or a post-it note, maybe it's telling a friend - choose whatever you think would be most effective for future you.

Then, put it into place. Set your flags to show up early and often. Heading off bad situations is a whole lot easier than digging out of them.

Then, flags in place, let the worry go, and go and enjoy your new, awesome life.

That's it. I've used this system dozens of times, and it always works.

I know it can work for you, too.

Steven Skoczen is the author of the Two-Year Life Plan Masterclass , a step-by-step course for getting out of the situations you don't like, and going after your biggest dreams.