“When you’re stuck, always return to the pursuit of knowledge.” These words written by Darius Foroux in his book “Focus on What Matters” hit me unexpectedly hard.

Not because it was something I’d never done but because it was something I’d always done. Right before the pandemic struck, I was in one of the biggest transition phases in my life. I wanted to exit my work situation, but I also didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I did one of the most transformative Vipassana courses (among the multiple), and I was trying to get to know myself again.

That’s when I found astronomy. I joined an in-person class, which lasted about a month or two, and I went on field trips to study something much bigger than my existence.

Learning about something completely different and unrelated to my work brought me back to life like nothing had ever done. I made new friends, learned something new, and felt a renewed sense of motivation about life in general.

Even if I did not understand 60% of the physics involved in understanding the mysteries of the universe, the mere curiosity kept me going.

Fast forward to 2023, when I was again reeling from a breakup, going through a phase involving a realisation that I didn’t know myself anymore. What did I like? Who was I without this person I no longer live with and am in a relationship with? Who am I when not involved in their interests and hobbies? (unfortunately, this has been my tendency in every romantic relationship, and I am not ashamed to admit it because I am working on it).

This time, I found the study of birds. I started balcony birding during the pandemic, and after spotting and learning to recognise about 30 species just from the balcony, I knew there was no way I could stop. Birding now is more than a hobby; it’s a passion and a way of life.

I remember the day I decided to take control of my grief and loss of control over a situation and do something good with it. I was sitting on my bed one cosy winter evening, wondering what the hell I was doing for myself, wondering what I was doing apart from work, work, and more work.

One simple Google search later, I had found what I needed. An in-person course that would teach me everything there is to know (at least to begin with) about my beloved birds. It was the best decision I had made in 2023.

The key here, for me at least, is doing a course in person and not virtually.

The accountability of having to reach class at a particular time, switch off/ silence my phone during that time, being unable to work during that time, and, of course, having people around me who are passionate about the same things I am passionate about, what was made this a gamechanger. It checks all the boxes of what to do when you are stuck — meet new people, get out of the house, do something that is outside of your everyday routine, and be exposed to knowledge about something that helps you better understand the world around you (or instead prove that there is a world beyond what you’re aware of).

And for me, neither of these two courses or some of the others I’ve done, have been about upskilling for my career or getting ahead at work. They have been about the simple act of acquiring new knowledge. The act itself helps me realise I do not live in a bubble, that there is much more out there to explore and learn, and many more people out there to meet and befriend.

“Ultimately, whether you use that knowledge or not, it’s a great way of living. One that gives you energy and can change your life,” writes Darius Foroux. I wholeheartedly agree.

So, if you’re thinking of a way to get unstuck, try learning something new — a skill, a hobby, new information about something you’re already interested in. It might help you connect the dots, create new ones, or simply nudge you forward from the places you’ve been stuck at.