What to do when you feel stuck!

In my wiser years (I won't call myself old YET!), I get to say that I've learned a lot from mistakes I've made, experiences I've had, and challenges I've overcome. I've read a lot of "self-help" books, and even written one.

I was asked a question recently and at the time I came up with something practical and referenced concepts from my book and my coaching techniques.  Now I'm going to try to answer it in a more thorough and thoughtful way.

Here's the question: "What do you do when you feel stuck?"

One of the definitions I found in google that matched the typical use of "stuck" showed:

  • baffled, beaten, at a loss, at one's wits' end;
  • informally - stumped, bogged down, flummoxed, fazed, bamboozled, as in "if you get stuck, leave a blank"

The sense I get when someone says they are "stuck" is that they are feeling frustrated and are at a crossroads of knowing and not knowing. "Do I do this or do I do that?" - sometimes not even sure what their choices are! Other times feeling stuck is being unable or afraid to make a decision or feeling the inability to take action in any direction. That's when the deadly "time-wasting" activities creep in.

In my book I write about procrastinating during a time when I was so overwhelmed by things on my plate that I didn't even know where to start. I was "stuck" in inactivity, not sure how to get out of the mood and mindset I was in that might ease my feelings and point to an obvious starting place.

At the time, my answer was to take a step back, assess what the heck was going on, and make a choice of starting SOMEWHERE!  I decided on one project, one hour of time, one tiny series of tasks to gain clarity and "move the ball down the field". When I was done I felt so much relief and excitement it gave me the momentum to keep going.

The answer to the original question, "How do I get un-stuck?", might sound like this:

What is ONE thing you could do today that would get you moving again?

And sometimes, ANY movement is better than NO movement. It airs out the congestion and gets your brain thinking functionally again.

In the grander scheme of things, in trying to find a way to get un-stuck, it helps to get really specific about what is causing that feeling; are you stuck about life in general, a relationship issue, a giant task that you can't figure out, or maybe a huge decision to make? Are there other people involved? What else is going on to compound the feelings?

This is the perfect time to try my "Five A Change Process". You'll go from Stuck to Action in no time.

1. Awareness: Get clarity! What are you stuck about?
Does it involve just you or others? Do you have an emotional attachment to one outcome or your energy gets drained when you even think about taking action? What are your obstacles? 

2. Accept responsibility to get yourself unstuck. No one else can do it for you. If you wait for things to improve or for someone else to make a change, you could be waiting forever! You also will be at the mercy of others instead of being in control.

3. Attitude is everything. Now that you are mentally in charge, let's get your mental mindset reframed to something positive. If you think something is impossible, it will be impossible! Turn it around. From, "I can't do it" to "I'll figure it out." From, "It's too complicated." to "I'm going to list ALL the steps and figure out where to start." You can do this! Find your motto, charge up the hill, make the change, and TACKLE instead of being "flummoxed"!

4. Assess your choices. You can do something, you can do nothing. Which will move you forward? If you do nothing, as we generally do when we are stuck, we put ourselves in Purgatory. Nothing can get better from there!
If you DID do something, what could that include? It's more than a Pros and Cons list, it's a possibilities list. Once you start writing, the ideas will begin to flow. You might need to talk it through with someone, as I prefer to do when I am stuck. Hearing the words you are forming, and getting feedback or ideas from someone else, is often the key to finding the best choices to choose from. From there you get to pick your first step.

5. Action always gets you moving. You can't be stuck if you are in action (but of course it has to be action toward the issue, not some mind-numbing, time-wasting action!). 
Plan your steps and then DO them! Where and when will you do them? (Studies show that you are much more likely to do them if you visualize where and when you will be when they are done).

These five words can "un-stick" anyone: Aware, Accept, Attitude, Assess, and Action.
Remember them, use them, and come back for a refresher if you need a reminder.

If you're having trouble on your own, get in touch. I'm here to help. Contact Monica!