Your Life Is Stagnant – Get Shock Treatment

You may be failing at life right now, and it isn’t for the reasons you think.

It isn’t because you’re not trying hard enough.

It isn’t because you don’t have what it takes.

You’re failing right now because you let yourself do it.  You’re doing the same things you always do.  You’re running on a treadmill, trying to move forward.

Essentially, you’re stagnant.  Some of you think I’m not talking about you.  The truth is I’m talking about almost everyone including myself.

Examine your life.  Are you really racing towards your dreams?  If not, you need shock treatment!

Picture a nasty, green swimming pool.  It has been sitting there for months in stagnancy – building up disgusting slime that lines its walls. Nobody wants to swim in it.  It isn’t lifeless, as the bacteria have invited algae and her friends over for a pool party.  They are all having such a great time.  Unfortunately, this pool party isn’t any fun for humans.

Stagnant Pool

For those who had trouble picturing a nasty, green pool...

Shock Treatment

So what’s the treatment for a stagnant pool of green slime?  Shock treatment.  You dump chlorine or other appropriate cleansers in the water and it “shocks” and destroys the undesirable elements (for the record, I’m a fan of salt water pools).  To make an analogy of the analogy – I see it as the cops showing up at a teenage drinking party – the situation is disturbed to a significant degree.

The other thing about pool shock treatment is that you need to do it about once a week to maintain the desired cleanliness.  When I talk about shocking yourself in the next section, keep in mind that it is not a one time thing.

Shock Yourself Sensible

The problem I have seen in my own life is that I will rely on nothing but my instincts and previous decisions.  This puts me on the same level as a mosquito, and I hate mosquitoes.  Like a man performing a ritual he does not know the meaning of, I have been guilty of making decisions based on ancient principles that I have not considered for years.

Can you know exactly how to do something perfectly the first time?  No, nobody gets everything right the first time.  Then why do we rely on our first decisions so much?  You will rely on them less and less if you are willing to fail.

Here is a recap of the past several months:  When I left this house several months ago, I was a stagnant, passive human being.  In February, I made a decision to start a blog.  That decision changed me permanently.  Here I am mere months later as an active, aggressive pursuant of my dreams.  I’m not going to be stopped.  Like many graduates these days, I just moved back in with my parents.  In an eerie realization, I found myself suddenly being much less productive than when I was out on my own.

The point of that example is this – a familiar environment caused me to revert to my old ways.  This was the environment that I became stale in.  Chances are, if you’re also in a familiar, comfortable environment, at home or work, you will have developed several stagnant tendencies.

Take a look at some of the stagnant dirt I’ve already found growing in my life pool since moving here just a few days ago:

  1. Bacteria – A small amount of work being “good enough for today”
  2. Algae – The tendency to wait on things instead of constantly creating new opportunities
  3. Human waste – Being “safer” and less aggressive about what I truly want in life

There is a huge difference between healthy routines and stagnant living, and yet they can easily be confused with one another.  The similarity is in their repetitive behavior and the big difference is what that behavior produces.  Look at my stagnant behavior in the list above and compare it to the following habit.

Waking up at 7:30 AM to run and read in a great book – a fantastic routine that breeds success.  I am going to do this tomorrow morning. It is a conscious decision to rise early and complete two worthwhile daily activities that will lead to a healthy mind and body.

This Article Is Its Own Fruit

Do this in your life.  It works.  I’m going to run at 7:30 AM (which is in 6 hours) – it is my response to the shock treatment.  You’re reading more evidence of the treatment – this post.

An hour ago, I told myself that I had done enough work for the day when I really hadn’t done much (#1 from the list).  I noticed the problem and decided to give myself shock treatment by challenging myself.  I had plenty of writing juice left in me, got fired up, and let my fingers fly (at only 60 WPM. I’d like to type faster).

In doing this, I am breaking an unspoken rule I had set about posting frequency.  I was going on the “every few days” schedule, but I’m going to keep you on your toes by firing out this article the day after my previous post.  Didn’t see that coming, did you!?

Ok, I have some thanking to do….

This thanking is related to my last article on criticism.  Take a look at the benefits I’ve gained from inviting criticism.

I appreciate that Martin criticized my blog design. From this I began to redesign and tweak things and I believe it looks much better now.  If you’re coming from my Problogger post, you can see I’m still experimenting!

Thanks to Hugo for pointing out a possible greater impact if I had not released criticism part I & II back-to-back.  Next time I will write one or two posts in between them for greater variety and build up.

Thank you Martyn from Two Hour Blogger for pointing out that I need to find a blog design and stick with it.

Chris from Soundspott, I believe it was your comment on posting frequency that ultimately led me to challenge my posting habits and create this post.

Thanks also to Ashvini and Riley, who did not criticize my blog, but gave me some valuable feedback.

I appreciate all of you.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

A. Irvin

Thanks for the kick in the pants. I’ve been feeling so blah lately – but not because I had become stagnant. It is more because I’ve had some back-to-back demands on my time (exams . . . then travel . . . then family visiting) that have interrupted my routine. Now that things have calmed down, I’m finding it hard to get restarted. I’m going to use your example of the shock treatment so that I can get back on into “the zone.” I will set my alarm and wake up early with some scheduled activities, and hopefully things will be back on track by the end of the week 🙂

Melvin Jacinto

Remembering back when I was still working at home. I was so contented with my life back then. Having a work by just sitting in front of my PC while watching movies and playing games through consoles. I don’t have a social life back then as I was always inside my room just working everyday. After work I just grab my PSP and play till midnight then sleep. Wake up in the morning and start everything all over again. I thought that was the best that I can get but then opportunity strikes and I did overcome the stagnancy of my life at that time. Now I’m working in a foreign country and doing great.

By the way, another great post Stephen! Keep it up! Looking forward for more. 🙂


Hey Stephan,

Thank you for your appreciation. I did not know, if I had to criticize your blog ;). I come to your blog for your good writing and nothing else. Unless you paint it flame red and hurt my eyes, I would keep coming back. Haha!!!!
As for suggestions , I think , I can help you with some 🙂
1) Buy the edition of colorschemer studio. I am not an artists and color matching is nightmare. This software really provides great color choices.
2) Move the sidebar to the right.
3) Place the adsense of the top
4) Use two sidebars as my ( if you see fit) blog.
5) Since you use thesis, play all day with it to find out the best layout.
6) Send me a mail if you like something in my blog and want to put that in your blog.
7) Be careful of the float . Your top most bar is floating out of wrapper in Firefox .


I just felt, last point may not be true. please check 🙂

Chris Jones@soundspott

Hey Guise,
Thanks for the dreams man-I want to catch my dreams and i’m sure I will. I’m going for the ‘Shock Treatment’ today itself

Brandon Yanofsky

I like the way you express this: shock treatment. I’ve been trying to inject a lot of shock treatment lately in my life. It makes it much more enjoyable and exciting.

I usually hate traveling, but I am forcing myself to go out and explore the world. And doing so is opening my eyes.


Awesome Angela. I hope your shock treatment is effective. 🙂

EDIT: I’d love to hear how it goes.


Melvin, that’s a great story. I’ve thought about moving to a different country if only for a short time. That is such a great way to stretch your comfort zone and develop a greater awareness of world cultures. I’m pleased to hear you’re doing well with your work in a foreign land.

I’ll definitely keep it up. Thanks!


The criticism is optional for sure, but I do appreciate you giving it. I will stray away from burning your retinas with flaming red colors, Ashvini. 🙂

Yeah, I don’t think your last point is true. The top bar is the viper bar and it seems to be fine from what I can tell.

The sidebar is now on the right side as you suggested. I like it much more there, thank you! I had moved it to the left earlier when the layout was different.

I think I will check out that colorschemer software. I’m a mess when it comes to color coordinating.

Thank you for those tips!


You’re welcome Chris. Go for it!


It really does make life better. I admire your courage to force yourself to travel when you don’t like it. I absolutely love travel and the challenges it brings.

Do you like it (travel) any more than when you started?


Stephen, this post absolutely ROCKS!

I can align with many of your points, particularly feeling comfortable and making much less progress than necessary.

This reminds me of the Einstein quote: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s so easy for us all to get stuck in a rut without even realising. Sometimes shock treatment is the best way, and the wake up call we need desperately! Thanks for an awesome post man.


Hey Robert,

Thank you for your kind words! I was feeling pretty inspired when I “shocked myself” into writing this post. I hope you shock yourself soon!

Archan Mehta


I like reading your blog. You are a good writer. You have interesting ideas to share with us.

Thank You.

I like your idea of running early in the morning. I want to go for a casual stroll in the morning, say, for one hour. At the moment, I am struggling to wake up early. I need your shock treatment too.

Physical exercise: there is no substitute for it. I believe in it. Now, it is time to take action on it.
You are a man of wisdom. Your wisdom rings true for me. I appreciate your contributions. Cheers.


Hi Archan!

I’m happy to see you over on my blog because you always leave great comments. I can relate with struggling to rise early. I had to “get tough” with myself this morning and force myself out of bed. I’m glad I did. I had a great run!

I am a big believer in physical exercise. It is not optional in my life. I need it like I need water. I hope you can shock yourself successfully Archan! Thanks for your thoughts.

Chris Kahler @ Bloggeritus

I’ve just went through a “boost” of a shock treatment myself… well not so much of “shock” more like an “awe” treatment.

This past week I’ve reconnected with a bunch of my long time buddies.. we haven’t spoken or hung out in like 2 years (pretty much since my daughter was born) and we got back together this week for my birthday and this has made me realize many things about myself and my career from multiple different angles. This has created a great deal of appreciation and gratitude, which I’m sure you know is one of the best ways of “being happy” about yourself and your life.

You’ve put out quite a few posts since I’ve checked in here, so I’m going to have to go back through them all and catch back up! LOL when I made that nazi post schedule I set standards to high and extreme. I scrapped that post and slowed down the schedule. I’m about 70 pages through a report and want to release it within the week… it’s almost impossible writing so many posts and that report simultaneously haha.

This post acts to me like a second confirmation of thoughts I’ve already been having. I’m pulling things together with fresh eyes and a great attitude now that have become that shock treatment you speak of… but since I’m taking things in such a revisionary way, I think I’m in the second phase right afterward… the “awe” part of it.

Hope you’ve been doing well!

Take care,


Hey Chris,
Nice to see you again! I edited your comment to fix that mistake you mentioned.

That’s really funny you brought up the post schedule. I noticed that and was planning on asking you about it today. I think setting such a rigorous schedule like that is a great way to burn yourself out. Haha, nice touch with the “shock and awe.”

70 page report?! Isn’t that an e-book then? I’ve read that 20 pages is the cutoff point for reports/e-books. I’ve written about 1200 words of a report/ebook I’m working on.

I’ve been doing well, thanks. Good to see you have a healthy perspective and are being productive!

Chris Kahler @ Bloggeritus

Haha well it was meant to be a report so I’ve got that word kind of imprinted on the mind. Inside of the actual document I refer to it as a book because I caught that point as well! But it’s true, too much to fast will DEFINITELY burn you out, especially doing it all at once.

I have recently been enlightened on a great concept I’m going to try to relay in my work and how I help others: incremental progress.

Having the right plan is the most important thing, not getting it all done at once. As long as you keep going in positive increments towards your plans all will be good. I’m working on getting my posting schedule ahead so that I can update a few times a week (2-3 posts a week I think is good balance?) yet not have to write and submit the posts the same day. I’d rather write the posts a few days ahead so I can take a fresh look before sending it.

After writing this book I’ve noticed a lot of what I write sounds great at first but when I reread it (I’ve read this damn book I’m writing like 5 times) I can always find some way of making it better. I want to do the same with my posting routine. It’s hard balancing so much at once!

I can’t wait to read your report, I’m sure it will be completely informative. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s it about?


PS, this time for real, thanks for editing that comment lol.


Chris, you should read my post on Problogger now titled “A Superior Writing Method”…it talks about the same stuff you just said. The rule I go by is that I have to read whatever I’m posting in full without wanting to change anything before I publish. It can be frustrating, but it helps keep the content high quality.

Incremental progress is a big part of effective living – so that should be awesome. Mine, if I decide to follow through with this topic, is going to be on stress.


Great article. I like it much. It was beautifully phrased. Thank you.

Stagnation is of different degrees/ levels/ intensity. Don’t you think that to remain stagnant (be in the state of stagnation) is a state/ a decision we choose or let ourselves to be in? and don’t want to go out? Or it is we
How to know what measure to take to get out of that state?
Shall I wait? Or there must be a dream that will take me out of there?
What if there is nothing (no dreams)? What if that the chances are in front of our eyes and can’t see them or use them?
What’s the level of shock dose do ones’ need?
May be that’s it or not? how do you know?
I hope this is not a pessimistic or discouraging view?
My regards to all. 🙂

Stephen Guise

Nice questions Omar.

I think a stagnant state of being is essentially what we are at default. In order to be anything else, we have to DO something. A lot of the time, we’re just too scared to do what we should or unsure of what we should do.

The shock treatment does whatever it takes to get you on the path you want to be on. Then, you just reapply as necessary until you’re living the life you want. 🙂

I hope that helps.

Gagan Sharma

Great article.
I realized many of my problems , but the root cause of all those were 4 .
3 mentioned as bacteria, human waste etc. in above text and 4th is something similar to the 1st post in this blog.
I’ll try your method.
Wanted to ask you something. It pisses me off like hell when I tend to do something and I just don’t do it by the end of the day. Don’t know what’s it that restrains me from doing the task I decided. But its the same every day story. I plan something and fail by almost 80% of it. Many a times I doubt my selves whether m I really competent enough to do that task or m just day dreaming or something. This pisses me off further. don’t know where to start but I just know that this dead routine takes me nowhere. Please comment if you get the jest of what I am trying 2 say…:(


Hey Stephen,

Another great article! I saw myself as a hopeless puddle of muck until I read this.

You know what?
I’m going to start cycling to work, and read a book before the start of my workday. I think its a good start, and hopefully this healthy habit will stick around with me for the rest of my life.

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