Do you ever feel stuck?

You know you need to make a change, start the job search, hit the gym, but you’re not sure how to get moving.

When this happens, some of us grab a bottle of wine, turn on Netflix and tune out. Others dwell on the problem hoping the extra focus will lead to a breakthrough.

In whichever camp we fall, the result is the same. We feel frustrated, and we delay our progress.

How can we become aware of what’s holding us back, and take action to make progress? Here are six steps to get unstuck.

Don’t Ignore It. Acknowledge It.

There’s a nagging feeling. We may not always be aware of it, but when we’re thwarted or have a problem that feeling is there. Tuning into our problem is a skill, but it’s not easy to do with so much noise and external demands.

The best way to get better at this is to take time to reflect. Go for a walk, journal, meditate, spend time alone. Get clear on the moments when you’re feeling your best, and you can tune into the moments when you’re feeling powerless.

Once you’re aware something is wrong, welcome it. There’s a solution for everything, and this is an opportunity to grow.

Write It Down, Ask Why

You’re aware there’s a problem. Now write it out. Start with how you’re feeling, then ask yourself why you’re feeling this way.

For example, the other day I was speaking with a friend about her consulting business. She’s been working on the concept for a few months but has been struggling to launch. She told me she was feeling overwhelmed.

I asked her why, and what specifically was contributing to that feeling. She then listed a number of issues she was having.

  • “I’m lacking the right credentials to break into my industry.”
  • “I’m lacking skills in sales to actually sell my services.”
  • “I just don’t know how to get started. The whole process feels overwhelming.”
  • “I need a mentor.”

As a result of all these issues, she procrastinated, lived with the frustration, and put her goals on hold.

Writing down exactly what you’re feeling and where you’re struggling brings the problem to light.

Then Dig Deeper

It can be difficult to look at a long list of problems and to know where to start. Which one do you tackle first, and which is the right one to tackle?

The best next step is to ask why again.

For example, why is it that credentials are important? And why aren’t I seeking out the experience I need to improve my credibility?

After you write this out for each problem, a common thread may appear. In this case it’s uncertainty and fear. My friend now has an understanding of the larger, underlying issue.

What’s the First Problem You Need to Solve to Reach Your Goal?

You obviously need to be clear on your goal to know where to focus.

Regardless, you can ask yourself: “What’s most important for me to solve right away? What will get me to move forward?”

If there’s a common thread like in this example (fear/uncertainty), you have one fundamental problem to tackle that can solve a myriad of other problems.

If there is no common thread yet, keep going.

Outline the Next Step: The How

Now, brainstorm all the possible solutions to solve your problem. What do you get? How do you feel?
get unstuckThis allows you to get creative, and to also explore all the options you have to move forward.

Lastly, Define the Immediate Solution

You need a next step to take action. To get to this, ask: “What feels like the best, immediate step I can take to feel better about this problem?”

get unstuckIn this example, mindset work to start tackling issues around fear and uncertainty is most important.

Once you select the action item, set a deadline (i.e. read additional blogs or books within the next week, take a class by the end of the month, etc.)

If you’re feeling stuck, dig deep, explore solutions, identify the action you need to take. Download this full framework, take it on the go, and start making progress with your goals. Get it HERE. 

Belma McCaffrey is the Founder of Work Bigger, a career development platform helping individuals do work they love without burning out. This article first appeared on