Path through woods with sunlight

Do you ever feel stuck? In a meeting? With a project? In a relationship? With your career? When facing a big life changing decision or uncertain change? Not a nice feeling, is it? It can be very debilitating. The good news is that feeling ‘stuck’ is common, normal and easy to address once you know how. 

I find that when I’m feeling stuck and not taking action, there’s always a good reason. It’s just a question of working out what the reason is. And asking a question is a good way to pinpoint the reason. Try this for yourself now. 

Think of something/somewhere where you feel stuck. Got one? Now, ask yourself What’s the block?Listen to whatever pops into your head or heart. Now, ask yourself Who or what would help shift the block?Next, ask yourself; What’s the first step forward and when will I take it?Clearer now? See a way forward or at least a chink of light? That was a little taster of how coaching works. 

All our clients are feeling stuck in some way. They are going through a major transition, decision point or transformation and come to us because they are fed up of being stuck and are ready and willing to move forward, fast and easily.  We just help them with the able bit. What I most love about career coaching is that I help people to help themselves. To unstick themselves, in their own way and at their own pace. I’m simply an energising catalyst for their change and growth. I don’t give them a solution, they uncover it for themselves, which is empowering. I’m like a pair of swimming armbands, needed for a short while. 

What are the causes of feeling stuck?

Stuckness has many causes. A big one in our busy world is overwhelm and having too much to do and not enough time.  Feeling stressed and tired makes this even worse because you become less resourceful to find a way forward, a vicious circle.  

Career Ladder

Another common cause is when part of you wants to do one thing and another part wants to do something else, like an inner tug of war. The result? Feeling stuck and inaction. This is caused by conflicting values (what is important to you), something we explore in coaching. 

Another one is unconscious self-sabotage. You know those little voices in your head? You’re not going mad, they are normal! They are called ‘Gremlins’ and can tie you in knots and cause your stuckness ! 

‘If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.’ Denis Waitley

Gremlins are the unhelpful voices of your limiting beliefs, e.g. I’m not intelligent enough, I’m not creative enough, I don’t deserve it, I’m too old, I don’t know how etc.. We all have them, they just need to be identified and then managed. 

Other causes can be summarised by the ‘don’t knows’. Think of problems or challenges that you or your organisation is facing which feel stuck currently, and reflect on which ‘don’t know’ is causing the bottleneck. 

  • Don’t know how– uncertain re capability or knowledge or lacking skill, actual or perceived 
  • Don’t know why– unclear purpose, vision, outcome or motivation, misalignment with values or beliefs  
  • Don’t know who– unclear role or responsibility 
  • Don’t know what– unclear objective, task, action or brief  
  • Don’t know when/where– need for planning, prioritisation  

All of these ‘don’t knows’ can be shifted and transformed and create a breakthrough.   

12 simple tips to help address stuckness 

Here are some different solutions to help you when things feel stuck. 

  1. Do tasks oneat a time and clear away everything else from your desk and mind 
  2. Write tasks very clearly and specifically so you are left in no doubt about what you need to do
  3. Keeping your final outcome in mind, identify the first step. Don’t worry about the 9thor 10thstep until you’ve taken the first 
  4. Create a 1 page plan for projects
  5. Segment tasks to make them feel clearer and help you prioritise
  6. Have a ‘stuckness audit’ with yourself, for a project or your organisation to identify the ‘don’t knows’ 
  7. Identify the consequences of not addressing the stuckness and the benefits of taking action 
  8. Check in with yourself regularly and make time to ask yourself a self-reflective question 
  9. Get a coach or mentor to help you to see the ‘wood for the trees’. If you are standing in the middle of the trees, it is understandably hard to see the path out into the clearing.   
  10. Speak the truth. Express what you see, feel or hear when you notice stuckness. Simply articulating it can help shift it
  11. Acknowledge that stuckness and inaction is okay sometimes and it isn’t normal or realistic to have growth spurts all the time, otherwise it would be Spring all year round! 
  12. Think of someone who you admire. Look at the problem through their eyes. What would they do? 

‘They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’ Andy Warhol

Rachel Brushfield

Rachel Brushfield is The Talent Liberator and founder of Energise – The Talent Liberation company, established 1997 and based in Charlbury, Oxfordshire.  Rachel is an experienced career strategist and coach with a marketing background who helps professionals and executives to achieve an uplifting breakthrough at major career crossroads. Career fulfilment and portfolio careers are specialisms. Rachel is co-founder of the network PWHub for senior women employed in Oxfordshire companies.

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