Feeling stuck is an indication that you have unresolved conflicting intentions. You want two things that do not seem to be simultaneously possible. For example, maybe you want to keep earning your salary but without working in your job. Or perhaps you want more challenge and autonomy but without more stress.As you reflect on your problem, can you identify two or more intentions or desires that seem to conflict putting you in a ‘no-win’ situation? Sometimes the conflicting intentions are unconscious such as: ‘I want more time for myself’ and ‘I want everyone to like me’.
There are three essential strategies and many specific ways to get yourself unstuck.
Strategy #1: Deconstruct your conflicting intentions
It really helps to understand exactly how your thinking is keeping you stuck. Sometimes simply realizing what is behind your situation is enough to get you unstuck.
- Write it down
Do you try to solve your problems simply by thinking about them? It’s really difficult to stop your mind from covering the same thoughts over and over again. The solution is to write it down. Personally I prefer to use mind-mapping so that I can outline complicated problems. Journalling and stream-of-consciousness writing also work. If you’re not so verbally oriented, try drawing diagrams or pictures.
- Have a coaching conversation
A coach’s role is to help you make new connections in your thinking leading to new insights. Since the coach has an outside perspective to your problem, he/she can help you see things differently by asking questions that point you in new directions, or by reflecting your own thinking so that you can see if for yourself. Friends can do this for you too, as long as they are good listeners, appreciative and respectful, patient enough to let you do the thinking and neutral in the situation.
- Use intuition and creativity
The answer to your problem is waiting to be found. Do you know how to tap into those answers within yourself? Like many famous mathematicians and scientists, when I’m working on a problem I go for a walk. Others paint or pray or swim or meditate or listen to music or take a shower. All these activities rely on getting your brain into a relaxed but alert state so that it can make new connections.
Strategy #2: Build energy and momentum
One of the main reasons people stay stuck is because they are overloaded in their lives and they don’t have the time and energy to find their way out. Therefore even before deconstructing your problem, you may need to build your capacity for creativity and change. Here are a few easy ways to start.
Drop some balls. Say no. Turn off your phone/social media. Schedule some free time. Most of us live in a perpetual cycle of adding to our lives. So we must occasionally trim back on our commitments so that we can have a life!
- Create new nourishing habits
What is one thing you could do every day that would make you feel good and that would take very little extra time or effort? How about a morning stretch, a healthy breakfast, deep breathing, a talk with your child, fruit in the afternoon, a mind-clearing walk, aromatherapy in the shower, or whatever most nurtures you?
- Stop tolerating
Make a list of 20 things that bother you and start fixing them. Start with the easy things and keep going. Notice how good it feels to clean up, sort out and put your own needs first.
- Create a supportive environment
Your environment includes your physical surroundings and the people you spend time with. Changes in your environment have a momentum-building effect since they affect you continuously. So will you clean up your desk, buy a plant, make regular dates with your most positive friends, expand your connections etc.?
Strategy #3: Make some changes
Even if you’re not sure how to solve your problem, you can start getting unstuck by making some changes. As you change, even if you’re moving in the ‘wrong’ direction, the ‘right’ direction will become clearer. Your movement can break the paralysis of being stuck.
- Use new ways of thinking and being
One of the easiest ways to make a change is to start with your thinking. For example, rather than thinking ‘I hate my job’, you could start thinking ‘I enjoy X about my job’. It always amazes me what a huge difference a small change in my thinking can make to my results. It doesn’t seem to make sense, since the thinking is happening privately inside of me, but because my thinking affects my perception, it affects my behaviour, how people see me and thereby it can bring new opportunities very quickly with very little effort.
An even more powerful change can happen when you purposely select and use a generic personality (an archetype) to guide your thinking and behaviour. For example, if you are seeking new work opportunities, you may see yourself as an Adventurer or a Detective. If you want to create a more supportive work environment, you could act like a Visionary, a Revolutionary or even a Queen or King. If you’re looking for creative solutions, become like a Magician or a Connector. Choose any archetype you can think of that will help you do things differently towards your purpose.
- Envision your future
Just as athletes envision their ideal performances to greatly increase their likelihood of success, you can envision your ideal day or week by running through the details in your head. Focus on what you will do and how you will feel in your ideal future. That special mental attention will help you make better choices during your day and guide you to behave in the ways that will most likely produce your goals.
- Continuously acknowledge and celebrate your progress
By noticing and either publicly or privately acknowledging yourself, you can continually strengthen your thinking, your confidence and your progress.—Feeling stuck is an indication of your desire to progress. As you improve yourself and your life, you will inevitably have periods of feeling stuck. So it pays to work on your getting-unstuck skills since they will serve you through a lifetime of personal progress. This fall in Hong Kong I’ll be hosting a support group that will use all these methods, and more, to get people unstuck, to build the personal foundations that will help them have the clarity, confidence and support to keep moving towards more fulfilling lives. Will you join us? For more information click here.