photo by Christopher Windus

We all get stuck every now and again. Making the choice to work through our inertia as opposed to giving up will ultimately help in leading us to success. If we give up every time we hit a roadblock, we will have very little sense of accomplishment in our lives.

Being stuck can take on many different forms of varying levels. It could be a feeling of not being inspired, of not knowing what to do next, of sitting in front of a blank computer screen trying to finish that paper for class, or work presentation.  It could be a loss of focus of our goals, or questioning our values. Whether a little stuck or in a “life funk stuck”, reflection is always something that helps me.

When we reflect, it gives us an opportunity to think about our intentions. If you are stuck with one of your goals or on a project, think about when you set the goal or the object of the project and ask yourself questions that will help you to clarify your intent, such as what was your intention for starting this project/ initiative, why is it important to you, why does it matter, and so on. 

Dr. Lani Nelson Zlupko has a wonderful TED Talk called “Staying Stuck or Moving Forward”. In it, she talks about how we look at our problems because, often times when we are stuck, it is as a result of problems we are facing. When we look at problems through a problem-focused lens, we ask ourselves problem-focused questions. Moreover, when we ask ourselves problem-focused questions, we get problem-focused answers, for example, “What is wrong with me, why can I not get this project started?” The answers we inevitability tell ourselves will be negative around our ability to complete the project, for example, “because I’m not good enough” –or– “I don’t know enough”  –or– “It’s over my head.” This type of thinking serves no purpose and will not help us get past our problem. We need to ask ourselves solution-focused questions, for example, “What will help me get started?” Perhaps then, answers will look more like “Just type whatever comes to mind” –or– “Think of a similar situation and how you handled it then use those tools” –or– “talk it out with a mentor or friend.”  The better the questions we ask of ourselves, the more brilliant the answers will be.

If you’re stuck in a life funk, reflection helps here too. It allows us to go back to a point in time where we can experience the emotions associated with the life we want to live. It helps to clarify dreams, values, and what it feels like to be you at your best. It helps us get beyond the past and allows us to focus on the now and the future. During reflection, allow yourself to be quiet and calm. Find a space without interruptions and focus solely on reflecting. Often when you allow yourself the opportunity to have uninterrupted time with yourself to think things through, answers and solutions will present themselves.

Getting Unstuck – Quick Tips

  • See/hear/feel with the end in mind – If you’re a visual person, try visualizing the opposite of what you are seeing.  For example, if you are experiencing a feeling of frustration because you’re having writers block, replace the vision of the blank page with a vision of a page(s) full of words.  If you’re more of an auditory person, try picking an adjective that is the opposite of what you are experiencing and focus on that adjective. For example, instead of saying, I don’t know where to start, try saying I’ve come so far along!  In either scenario, allow yourself to experience the feeling of satisfaction that will come with the opposite affirmation you are focusing on.
  • Break it down—Sometimes the reason we get stuck is because the task at hand is just so overwhelming that we do not know where to start. The best thing to do in this case is to break down the project – instead of thinking about ways to accomplish the end game, work on the plays that are going to get you there.
  • Take a Break—There is a lot to be said for physical activity. Some of our best ideas and thoughts come to us when we are physically active. Leave your project, take a walk, go to the gym, for a run or cycle. Whatever it is that gets you active and allows you an opportunity to clear your head. Quite often, this is all it may take for you to get back on track.

In the end, recognize that what you are experiencing, this state of being stuck, is a bump in the road. It is not the be all and end all of your existence or who you are. View it as the opportunity it is to reflect, repurpose, regroup and to grow.

If this resonates with you, be sure to pick up a copy of my book YOUR EXTRAORDINARY SELF for more tips on how to live an extraordinary life, and remember #AnythingsPossible