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10 Things to Do if You’re Feeling Left Behind (and Need a Lift)

If you feel left behind in life, let me let you in on a few ways to deal with it. Feeling left behind is not a nice feeling, but I’ve been there…

At the start of this month I felt left behind.

Seemed like all my non-blogger friends were / are off having babies, sometimes going in for seconds, getting promotions, planning their weddings, just generally getting round that Game of Life board faster than me. While all my travel blogger friends are working on cool campaigns, creating better content, improving their businesses and picking up accolades while I can’t even clear my inbox. 

Sometimes I get like that. I don’t like it. I definitely don’t like to admit it, but it happens. I just felt like everyone else was doing better than me. Getting further ahead. 

Leaving me feeling left behind in life. 

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I think part of it was due to weeks of being in all day, inside my flat, by myself. I’m used to being out and about. I was working hard, trying to clear a backlog of work, but on the treadmill of bloglife I wasn’t really getting very far. Waiting for replies from clients, from a guy, and from friends was driving me a bit crazy.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’d check my phone looking for an answer.

Cabin fever. 

So, I decided to do something about feeling left behind. I couldn’t keep going along at the same speed I was, I needed to feel like I was catching up somehow.

Here’s how I got out of that particular little funk…

What to do when you feel left behind in life

“I feel life behind” – sound like you? Have a read of these top tips and see if you can put any in to action to help your feel better about your lot.

what to do if you feel left behind

1. Say yes to something different

A work opportunity came my way I normally would’ve said no to. I said yes and was excited to work on the project. It brightened up my month and gave me some time to think about what I want to do in the future, and why I was feeling like this. It got me away from my desk and back out into the world. 

Say yes to something you wouldn’t normally, and even if nothing else comes of it, you’ll know not to say yes in the future, but at least you gave it another go. If you need a bit of a pep talk, then check out this list of trying new things quotes to give you that push.

2. Pinpoint the problem

If you can work out exactly what you’re feeling left behind on, it’ll help you work out what you can do. 

There was a number of things for me – relationships, babies, work opportunities and skills, fitness, being able to cook anything but stir fries and eggs, the mess my room was…

But the only way I even knew to compare myself on any of the above, or even knew the leagues most of the people were in, was down to bloody Instagram.

feeling left behind

I’d go on, scroll and feel considerably worse about myself when I finished. So I gave up. I had a dabble in South Africa, just because it looked so good and since then I’ve barely looked at the images, although I do like following my friend’s stories. Think I just needed a break from comparing myself in work, appearance, life, clothes, y’know, just everything

Emily sums my feelings up perfectly in ‘Instagram is Ruining My Life‘.

3. Embrace your feelings

If you sit around worrying and moaning about how you feel left behind in life, it’s only going to get worse, you know that right? It’s literally the worst thing you can do as you’ll only fall further behind. 

But, then again, I’m all about feeling your emotions. Give yourself some time to fester and wallow in your self pity – not too much, not too little – and then move on to step 4.


4. Get productive 

Choose one of the aspects you’re feeling left behind on, or the aspect if you’re lucky, and make a plan. In between writing this post and uploading it I’ve already tidied up, so that’s progress. One factor down, at least six to go. 

It did actually take me a few hours, but I worked out what was going right, what was making me happy, and what I think will still be making me happy in a few years time. I did look at others but more for inspiration of what I do or don’t want to do. I have a plan for the next stage and with that a renewed excitement for work, and for other aspects in my life.


5. Turn off the internet 

I like to call it ‘Wi-Fi free Wednesday’, whether it’s actually Wednesday or not. I turn off the internet on my phone and laptop for a good few hours and I get SO much more writing done, bringing me closer to my goal of feeling on target at work.

Release yourself from the notifications, just for a few hours. 

When you feel left behind

Your goal might not be to write, it could be to watch a film without picking up your phone, to start a project or just hang out with someone and give them 100%. I promise you, without the internet you’ll be so much more productive, and feel so much more connected to whatever it is you’re meant to be doing rather than getting distracted. You’ll feel better.

Stupid, beautiful, brilliant internet ruining our attention spans. 

6. What do you actually want? 

After a few days I realised that I felt left behind on things that I didn’t even necessarily want. That’s why I think it’s a great idea to do a little analysis, perhaps even a business plan, of where you want your life to go.

I was just feeling like that for the sake of it – I didn’t even want what they had! Hadn’t even tried! 

“I want to do that / be like them / go there / have that” – but do you really?

I did want a change though, and that was why I was grasping at straws with jealousy. I worked out what I was excited about in life, and what I wasn’t, and then made a plan for how I was going to adjust my life.

Feeling left behind in life

– All images from Canva

Maybe you need to reevaluate what you’re doing in every aspect of life and make sure it matches with the future you want for yourself now, not the future you wanted two years ago, or even five.

It’s not really surprising I feel like this – I’ve spent the last three years with huge change almost every day. I love living in Southsea and my life here, but to sound cheesy, I wasn’t doing anything new, I wasn’t growing and changing – and I like doing that. 

7. Set the wheels in motion

I think I’ve just made a massive change in my life, or at least I’ve taken steps to it. I’ll reveal all if it’s confirmed but it’s very exciting and a total lifestyle change for me. We all have our own paths, with our own interests, measures of success and things we want to achieve, and that’s always changing. 

Even if this doesn’t work out, I’ll try again until it does, now I know it’s what I want.


This is what it was btw: I’ve Bought a House! 


8. Take other lives with a pinch of salt

I saw a sign in a bar in Knysna, in South Africa, that said:

“If the grass is greener on the other side, it’s because it’s usually fertilised with bullshit” 

So. Damn. True.

This has been added to my mental list of mantras that help me in life. Anyone who bangs on about what a great life they have, or looks like they have, isn’t to be believed.  

If you’re feeling left behind by friends, or family, try and work out whether whatever you’re feeling left behind about is actually valid. Probs not.

9. Embrace your life as it is now 

Two things are guaranteed: you’re born and you die, and there’s a third, you change. 

Whatever situation you’re in now, whether it’s positive or perhaps, slightly negative, then know that your life is going to change soon, for better or worse. 

One of the many things travel has given me is a strong perspective on the life I lead in England, but it’s also shown me the importance of allowing you to feel what you feel (point 3). If you’re feeling left behind, make sure to remember all those aspects you’re ahead in – and only compare yourself to past you, not to your friends and family. Also, bring in a touch of perspective, maybe a little schadenfreude, and you’ll soon see things differently.

Life as you know it will change, so it’s important to enjoy this moment in time for whatever it is.

10. Write it out

Writing doesn’t have the same effect on everyone, I know that, but writing this on the train back from York has made me realise… 

Grand Canyon

I think at the start of this month I wasn’t feeling challenged, or like I was changing. Perhaps, despite having so much work and a million things I could be doing, I was slightly bored. I love Southsea, I’m meant to be here, I have friends, my parents came to see me for a few glorious days but in work, I’m not creatively challenged and I’m too consumed with things I don’t necessarily want to be doing.

I have my plan though. Slowly but surely things are going to change around here.

I hope that helps. I think it’s totally normal to feel a little left behind sometimes no matter how far you are ahead. Feeling left behind by friends is horrible, I know the feeling well.

If you’re having problems with feeling left behind, stop comparing yourself, work through the few pointers above, and keep going with what you want to achieve in the life you have.

Analyse, adapt and try to live life as you want.

Any comments? Let me know below…

If you're feeling left behind

And so, I’ve made a list. And lists, make me very happy. 

More on life, from me

5 Tips to Help Us Calm Life Down 

How to Be Kinder to Yourself

Productivity Tips for Your Work from Home Routine

feeling left behind?
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How to Forge Your Own Path When You Feel Left Behind – Dr. Kojo Sarfo

Saturday 5th of September 2020

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Jana

Monday 25th of November 2019

Wow...I relate so much with this post. I got married young, and so did many of my friends. However right after my wedding I got hit with a chronic illness that has left me doing life at a much slower pace than one I’d prefer. Most of my friends are having kids at the point, and I can hardly take care of myself. It’s left me feeling a bit lonely at times, or just as though I cannot relate anymore with my old friends. I’m so thankful for my amazing husband, but we’re just not ready for kids yet. We both feel “behind” in many ways, but I know there are also things to be thankful for about this season of life. I absolutely love this list, definitely offered a lot of practical tips too :) thank you so much for writing it! Made me feel a little less alone.

VickyFlipFlop

Friday 6th of December 2019

Oh this was such a lovely comment to read Jana. It's tough feeling this way but I guess we all have our ups and downs, and our times of feeling ahead and behind. It's so sad that we live in a world where we can compare ourselves so easily. I can be happily going about my work and life, and then I'll look across to a friend, see they're 'ahead' and instantly feel bad. It's really not a good trait. We just need to stay positive and note that we're on our own path. I'm so glad I've helped you to feel better. We're all doing the best we can!

Grace

Sunday 10th of November 2019

This was really helpful. Thank you so much Vicky.

Lisna Romauli

Wednesday 18th of September 2019

Hi, Vicky... i do really need help in how to find our really personal passion and needs (not only because of envious on friends and follow the same things like they do). In short, my question is how do i know tht somthg is 'me' and i must work for it. Thank u

Areen

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Hi Vicky and thanks for the article. While I am so independent 35 years old and unmarried female, I do consider being “emotionally” left behind as the most challenging. I am not good in talking about that but I do feel the problem within myself!

VickyFlipFlop

Tuesday 17th of September 2019

Hi Areen, oh I'm sorry to hear that. I feel like 'emotionally' left behind could mean a whole load of things so I don't really know what specific advice to offer. I really hope this post has helped you to come up with some ways to feel a bit more emotionally prepared for life as it is. Thanks for reading.