The Map: What to Do When Nothing Seems to Be Working Out in Your Life!

Updated: February 21, 2011

unhappyWomanWhat do you do when despite your best efforts things don’t seem to be working out in your life? Perhaps you’ve tried so hard to reach a goal, land a new job or make a relationship work, but now you feel like nothing is coming to fruition. It’s as if you’re wandering through a Barren Desert, exhausted and with nowhere to hide. How do you move forward?

We all find ourselves in dry desert at some point in our lives. While we often view this landscape as hopeless and unfruitful, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if we remain resourceful and have courage and faith, we can thrive.

As I teach you in The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life, the environment of your mind is what creates your external reality. Throughout the book, I show you how to use the power of metaphors and imagination to delve into the deepest parts of your subconscious—your inner landscapes. These internal landscapes, which are made of your thoughts, feelings and beliefs, are one of the most important keys for shifting your outer experiences. When you explore them as enchanted environments where your emotions take on attributes of the outer natural world, you’re able to detach from your emotions and access the wisdom you need to transform your inner and outer experiences.

There are numerous archetypical lands you might visit in your life. Over the next few blogs, I thought it would be helpful to take an in-depth exploration into some of these inner landscapes you might encounter on your path. So today we’re going to put on our safari hats and take off to the dry desert!

You end up in the Barren Desert when you’re exhausted and it seems like nothing good will ever flourish in your life again. You’ve tried and tried, but nothing is growing in the dry soil. Your supply of creativity has dried up in the hot desert sun and you’re lost, unsure of where to go next for the sustenance you need. And, you forgot your water bottle!

When most of us find ourselves in the desert, we start to panic and lose faith. We might wonder whether we’ll ever find shelter or the job we need to pay the bills. We start to worry that we’re destined to remain thirsty for more purpose. And, we may feel we’re always going to be alone, never again to experience the lush garden of love. This panic only sends us deeper into the Barren Desert. And, then if we stay too long, we’re propelled The Ghostlands, where there’s no substance or growth. In other words, panic and hopelessness aren’t the way out of the Desert!

oasisIf you want to get out of the Barren Desert, you must look within for the treasures and resources that will help you move forward. You can tap into the power of your internal reality by comparing it with the characteristics of a desert.

Desert environments are dry and harsh, often with extreme temperature variations. The land may seem to go on endlessly, but sooner or later it turns into a greener place. There is little shelter from the sun, yet this land also has the brightest rays you can find on the earth. The plant life of the desert is tough, but surprisingly succulent. If you break open the thorny cactus, you will find water. If you dig deep in the soil, you’ll find it’s also surprisingly abundant with nutrients. In spite of external conditions, new life can and does form in this land.

What wisdom can you glean from the attributes of this environment? If you find you’re in the desert in your life, you must conserve your energy rather than squander it mindlessly on worry and negativity. Savor what you have and practice gratitude for every drop of goodness. You might have to dig deep to get to the nourishment and insight you need, but it’s there. You also may have to break through a thorny issue or something you’ve kept guarded, but the sustenance you discover will help you move forward. Since the desert is a place of confusing mirages, you have to beware of a quick way out; when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Even though it seems endless, you will eventually leave the desert. If you have courage and continue to be resourceful, you will thrive. You must trust in Spirit; no matter your outer circumstances, the sun is still shining bright upon you!


Think of a time in your life when you found yourself in a desert. In your journal, answer these questions:

  • What was you life like in this desert?
  • What were your predominant thoughts, feelings, and beliefs during this time? And, how did they change?
  • Did you find any hidden gifts and nourishment? What were they?
  • What did you learn by being in this desert?

In service and love,

P.S. I’d love to hear your feedback on today’s blog.


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Showing 21 comments
  • Latrice Williams

    I know that this is an old Blog post/entry but after “googling” I am came upon it today. It was a great read as well as very helpful. The Desert analogy was on point. I will do the Exercise noted at the end of the article and see where it takes me. Thanks!!

  • Ram

    I am in exactly the same situation, even worse I may just be entering into this vast barren desert (using the same analogy). Here is what I am struggling with. I have been with a company for 7 years. Everything going well in my career, however over the last 8-10 months, I feel have lost track of what I am supposed to do with my life !!! If I rewind my life back by 12 years, which is when I started my career, I have actually reached where I wanted to as of today, however i feel I have lost a lot to get here. I am 36, have a wife and 2 beautiful kids and now have a strong urge to do something on my own, rather than work 9-5. Life seems so distasteful at the moment and I am filled with negativity. I have not been able to concentrate on work, however have not mustered any courage to quit and do something else. The big question. I don’t have clarity on my future, however I know when i quite and start thinking deeply, things will work out much clearer……….any suggestions/ experience that you can share would be highly appreciated

  • h

    i am in a desert

  • Mcebisi

    It feels like a desert for me right now, I have gone miles yet it still looks endless ahead, I guess I’m one of those who never make it in the desert, who get drained and finally collapse and get swallowed by the dunes..! But this article kindled a spark of hope..

    • Hopeless

      You described exactly how I feel. It’s the worst feeling in the world to be in the dunes.

  • GiGi

    I found this blog very interesting because that’s exactly how I feel, lost in a desert. I’ve been feeling like this for years now, been trying find my way and find purpose to my life but I’m at a stage where I feel completely lost, like I’ve lost my way my hope my faith and and instead of looking forward to another exciting day of my life Im worried what issues I have to face that day. The worst is when I leave the house in the morning with a thought tgat today’s gonna be a great day and that I’ll enjoy it and something good is going to happen and then boom something awful happens and hurts more because I had my hopes up. So now I feel like I don’t know what to do, which way do I go, what do I do, what’s the point of all this. I don’t have much in my life but I do appreciate what I have, it’s just feels like that even that very little is being taken away from me.

  • Trudy

    Gigi I feel the same way ever time I get my hope up on my marrage or my job just life happynes from ever day struggle it comes negative and worry I try to be strong and have faith but find myself in the desire of hopeless

  • Shay


    There have been many instances in life where I have “wished hard”. Those times were probably my desert times. In those time, I thought that I am doing everything in my capacity to achieve my desire. My happiness revolved around these desires and no matter what I did , it would not work. I would find myself in these circles ever 2-3 years in last 20 years ( I am 30 now). I remember myself going to sleep every night often wishing to get what I want rather than being excited about what I have. Sometimes it would be friendship, sometimes love, sometime academics, Love again, job, social acceptance, marriage and now its career again. Although I rarely got what I exactly wanted, I did get something which I realized was better than what I wanted. Although I let go of my wish and celebrated what I got, it left scars- some big some small. Now, I am in a career situation where I have been struggling for over 2 years. But this time I am not getting better than what I wanted. I am not getting anything this time. Not yet…
    I moved to a different country to join my partner giving up a land where I had prospects, friends, social life and great desire to live. Yet I moved, to graduate into a new life because I met a person who was a million times better than I ever imagined (after a major desert time). But now, I am unable to enjoy this life coz I am not finding work despite the best qualifications. I am not finding friends and I am not finding a place to anchor myself. 2 years into this, I am absolutely exhausted. My ever growing dissatisfaction is killing me. I feel guilty for making myself feel so sad, making my partner feel upset. It seems like a decent job can lead to what I desire (a simple and happy life), but its not happening. Its the biggest desert I have been. As I grow older, I have lesser ability to deal. For now, I feel so empty and blank. I feel directionless and tired. I feel my battery is exhausted. I fear I will not die in this desert of dissatisfaction, but I will be tortured every minute by its days and night.

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      Life is messy… whenever I felt hopeless.. and there have been many times …I found people even less fortunate than me to help. It was the best advice I ever got from a wise old woman who I turned to to complain about my hardships. I was your age too. My family was destitute, I was with an unfaithful man, nothing I was doing was getting me ” what I wanted”. Then I went to volunteer at a woman’s shelter for battered women, then to a jail, then to the human society for animals. My exposure to other’s suffering put it in perspective for me. You are the source of your own torture. You are also the source of your own redemption. hitting bottom is a gift.. seek the light and share that now.. what makes you happy?

  • Emmanuel

    Wow, I’ve always thought I am the only one that’s going through this, but I just found out that am not.
    I just thought I should google this subject and know if I can see any solution to my situation and here I found it.
    I really do feel like am in a desert and am always scared of how am going get out. For the past 4years now, I see myself being on the same spot in life, not moving forward and not moving backward. When I finished my OND, my plan was to get a job and return for my HND, at the same I’ll be chasing my dream in Music which is my passion. But since I completed my OND 4yrs ago, I’ve been jumping from one job to the other. Its either the company refuses to pay salary or they are shutting down. These has been the cases with works. And cos of these, I’ve not been able to raise money and go for my HND. And at the same time, no money to do my music not to even record a song. And the worst now is I don’t even have any job again since last month. How do I move from here?

    (From Nigeria)

  • RT

    I have been suffering from an illness for past 18 months. I am getting treated by one of the best doctors in the area. I know it’s not a fatal illness and I am thankful for that. I have had 5 surgeries so far and still the problem is not completely solved. The doctor expects me to keep patience as it is a step by step process And it’s a complex disease. Everytime a surgery fails I feel so depressed like there is no hope left. I am finding it soo difficult to keep my faith that I will heal one day. I don’t know when is the end to my misery.

  • Gabriel

    My Own Problem Is(which I Believe It Has Been Solve Immediately I Drop This Comment) That I Never Get/Experience Good Job Except Hard Job Which I Was Doing when I Was Doing My HND Programme, I Put My Self In Night-duty For Me To Attend The Lecture And Also Engage In Contribution For Me To Pay My School Fees. Now I Graduated And Finish My Service. But Still Waiting For Job To Come. But I Still Have The Faith That My Tomorrow Will Great.

  • Dena

    I just found this blog also although it may be old, it really resonated with me..especially the ‘land a new job or make a relationship work, but now you feel like nothing is coming to fruition’ part! I just broke up with my boyfriend who i’ve been madly in love with and was building a home together here in his country. It was a turbulent relationship due to miscommunication, I think he is addicted to marijuana which has probably contributed to the issues on his end. As well as that I am left jobless as I quit my job to travel with him and work freelance. (I’m a graphic designer) this company I have been working for the last few weeks have not been paying me on time or missed payments and I am still living with the (ex) boyfriend until I land another job as I’m from a different country and have no support network here. I feel completely alone and worthless like am I not deserving of a job where I am valued and get paid on time? Am i not deserving of a healthy relationship without constant conflict or where I can be myself? I feel like I’ve been in a constant pattern of this for a few years now of being in this country and all I’m asking for is some stability, a job I am valued and happy in and surrounded around good people. I am 27 now and think I deserve that. Sorry for the long rant but its 12pm here and I’ve been up crying and feeling really depleted.. any advice is much appreciated !! 🙂

  • Kathe

    ”Twas great reading these posts. It’s 3.30 am and not able to sleep coz i am in the deepest of the deserts right now in a foreign country and out of work.
    From Switzerland

  • Ranjana

    Amazing,thanks a lot.

  • Hopeless

    Thank you for your blog. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels lost in the dessert. I recently decided to divorce my husband as we were in an unhappy marriage. At the same time, I started a new business to try to better my career and for my kids. I felt like this was the path I’m supposed to take. Only problem is nothing is working out. No matter what I keep doing it turns out the same. I try to start off my day as optimistic as I can but it just goes back to being miserable. They say there’s only one way to go when you’re down but i feel like I’m always down, but waiting for my up moments. Please help, -hopeless

  • Natalie

    This is a good article. And many people being open about their struggles. I think I have felt like I’ve been in a desert for a very very long time. Maybe even ghost lands. If I am truthful with myself, I’ve believed for awhile that nothing will ever work out for me so why spend energy trying and hoping? Yes, I’ve had some pretty horrible things happen. I’ve been completely crushed in love. I’ve lost a child. I have absolutely no idea what next steps are so I kind of just “sit here” doing nothing but surviving.

    I think that also believing that nothing good will happen anyway allows me to be lazy in my efforts. If I really thought good could happen to me, I’d have to try at least. How do I get to the point that I really believe good can happen when mostly what I experience is bad?

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