5 Telltale Signs You’re Coasting in Life

In the hot, hazy days of summer, it’s natural to feel lazy. And from the countless pool parties penned into your planner to the plethora of epic shows coming out in the next few months (hello, Game of Thrones!), curling up with a cold one instead of moving forward on your goals at work and in workout class can be tempting.

While the occasional Sunday spent curled up in a blanket and binge-watching television is more than okay, too much self-indulgence can have the opposite effect. In fact, the more time you spend procrastinating on your progression in life, the more time you spend with a sense of anxiety and unease.

In adulthood, the line between indulging a bit too much and being overworked isn’t always so finite, and sometimes, it takes a bit more introspection to figure out if you’re coasting on your goals in life.

With help from life coach Diane Passage, we highlighted five major signs that could mean you’re not living up to your highest potential in work, school and life in general.  

Things are pretty easy for you

As an avid class-goer, you know well enough that sticking to the minimum number of push-ups in bootcamp class or staying on the lowest-level torq the instructor allows while spinning is a surefire way to ensure you won’t improve your fitness. That same logic applies to other goals in your life, too.

“Easy is comfortable and that’s why many of us like to stay there,” explains Passage. “But the risk of staying on an easy path is that it could eventually lead to boredom, monotony and unhappiness.”

Yes, leaving at 5 p.m. each day is allowing you to get home sooner and spoon with your cat. But it’s also probably hurting you mentally. “For a more fulfilled life, challenge yourself to try something new, achieve something greater, or grow to become fitter, stronger or smarter,” she says.

You consistently do the bare minimum of what’s required

In that same vein, when your boss asks you if you’d like to tackle an additional project at work, where does your mind automatically go? Are you champing at the bit to prove yourself to your superiors, or does the notion of staying late and working under pressure give you the heebie jeebies?

If you picked the latter, you’re probably consistently doing (and actively choosing) the bare minimum. Sure, that will make you feel comfortable and secure in the moment, but it’s also guaranteed to make you feel, well, like crap down the road.

“When you know you can do better, but don’t for whatever reason, that means you’re coasting,” says Passage. “Find out what’s preventing you from being at the top. Is it lack of motivation, energy, confidence or something else?”

Once you’ve spotted the problem, make it a point to address the underlying reason. Are you losing confidence because you’ve been burnt out at work before, or is another variable in life behind your fatigue?

You have unclear (or nonexistent) goals

Yes, good things in life can happen to us serendipitously, but most of the time, our lives don’t exactly resemble a miracle-filled Hollywood movie. Achieving our dreams takes goal-planning and a drive to meet those goals.  

“If you feel you’re merely existing without striving for anything in particular, then you may be coasting through life,” says Passage. “However, if you find that you do want something more, get clear on what it is. When you set your goal, state the timeframe and a general plan. You will be well on your way to living life with more direction and purpose.”

You aren’t excited about anything 

Besides the recent Orange is the New Black season drop or those adorable leggings that finally went on sale last week, what are the things that you’re truly getting excited for in life? And no, not something that gives you a momentary high or smile. When was the last time you could hardly sleep because you were so thrilled about  meeting the rising sun the next day?

If you can’t recall the last time you felt this way, there’s a good chance you’re just getting by—and not actually living. The absence of excitement in your life means that you’ve lost a sense of what your true passions are. Whether it’s your work or a hobby, do your best to pinpoint what motivates you and follow that path.

Work is dreadful 

Okay, there’s probably not a single one of us who doesn’t dread the Sunday night “scaries”—you know, that ominous, uncomfortable feeling you get when you start to mentally calculate all the tasks you’ll need to tackle in the coming week. While a slight case of anxiety is totally normal (and should be!), if your Sunday evenings are spent in agony—or worse, you are ticking down the seconds at work—it’s a sure sign you need to make a change. 

Instead of dreading work, try to narrow down each task and specify exactly how those tasks will help you meet your goals. Maybe you’re dreading Monday morning’s rowing class because you know your instructor on those days is super tough. While the class might be slightly miserable, remind yourself that it’s helping you progress on your fitness goals. If the chore is professional, remind yourself that each job well done puts you in a better place in your supervisor’s eyes—and on the ladder to success. 

Julia Sullivan is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. When she's not picking heavy things up and setting them down again (more commonly known as weight lifting), trying to prepare healthy meals in her doll-sized Manhattan studio or writing about the latest fitness craze, she chronicles her zany adventures as a new New Yorker in her blog, Jules & the City. You can also follow her on Twitter.