When You Feel Untethered And Lost

feel untethered and lostMuch of my work is with clients who are going through a large life-transition and helping them to navigate through it. Once past it, the big “what’s next” question always comes up, as clients tend to feel untethered and lost as to what to next with their lives.

When You Feel Untethered And Lost

Untethered is a word that I came up with years ago to describe how I feel at times when I do not know what to do. It stemmed from my experiences that I have (and still have) after a big race when there is nothing grand looming on the horizon.

I say untethered because I envision myself, as silly as it sounds, as a helium filled balloon just bouncing around in the breeze…  no longer grounded, attached, or tied to any particular goal or outcome… and without any new particular goal or outcome within reach to bind myself too…

When I feel untethered and lost – it is usually very uncomfortable and unsettling at the same time. It does not matter if I met my goal or not, I am faced with a void of nothingness in terms of goals. In many ways, it may appear as if I am “stuck” but the reality is that I am trying to figure out that “what next” question on my own.

Regardless of if we have just survived or achieved something, we usually find ourselves on the other side lacking answers or direction once the dust settles.

So, what do you do then?

The first thing is to be thankful for being exactly where you are in that moment. If you recently survived something, whatever it may be, be grateful that you are now on the other side. If you feel untethered and lost because of a recent success, the same thing applies… be grateful for what you have accomplished.

But be aware that it might take sometime to figure out your next moves and accept that. I go through the same thing after every 100-mile race that I run. After training, competing, and finishing, I am always pushed into a place of waiting… I have to wait weeks to recover fully and for everything physically and mentally to find a new balance, but I also have to wait even more weeks before newer dreams and aspirations come to me.

It’s a process that takes time and from experience I know that I just have to ride it out with the faith that eventually I will be firing on all cylinders again and the lights will all be on.


However, it is not a time to waste time… no… it is a time to do what I like to call “housekeeping.” It is a time to start taking care of yourself if you were not able to before. A time to catch up on sleep and to get your diet back to something reasonable if you were either under or overeating…  It is a time also to get ready for what is next… I did not say it was a time to START something new, but a time to get ready for something new to begin.

Sometimes we have to be okay with not having goals and that is the number one reason I believe that people feel untethered and lost – not just because they don’t have a goal but because the believe that they MUST have a goal when at a particular moment they do not.

So if you do not have a goal and are fretting over that needlessly then stop it… But if you still insist on having a goal… just make finding a new goal your goal and go with that. Trust me, eventually it will come to you.

If you are still insisting on divining some new direction in life by all means do it but be cautious of latching onto one particular path or plan just because you thought of it… come up with several and let them gestate over time and see what really resonates with you.

Never go after a new goal merely for redemption or to make up for a recent defeat… conversely, do not allow the high-emotions of a success sign you up for something that you are not ready for yet either…

Lastly… when you feel untethered and lost just remember… it is only a feeling and that feeling is the product of something that you are thinking… Everybody needs downtime to recover from things now and again. Recover, rebuild, retool, and get ready for what is next…

Be grateful for where you are… give yourself some time if you need it (you probably do) and be okay with not having massive immediate goals looming on the horizon… don’t worry, you will soon enough.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – A Certified Life Coach In Aspen Colorado

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