TIB #58: How to get unstuck

Written by Arno Jansen

After a break or a vacation, any feel stuck and struggle to get unstuck and back into “normal” life.

During our time away, we zoom out from the day to day, change our environments and as a result many of our habits and routines change too.

This creates a new perspective, one that creates space to breathe, unwind, relax and recharge.

But all that space, and changed perspective can come with a side-effect: it can be hard to get back to our “old” life after vacation time is over. Or we start to feel stuck, because it feels we have to step back onto the hamsterwheel.

This is personal

I write this from personal experience. I experience this feeling regularly. I used to think this was because I was “stuck” in a corporate career. But, I have not answered to a boss in 3 years and I still get this feeling everytime I take a week or more off.

This summer it has hit me especially hard, as I underwent surgery at the beginning of July (nothing life threatening, but quite uncomfortable nonetheless), followed by a week of full rest and after that, it was time for 2 weeks of family summer vacation. I am not at all complaining, but it was so much time away from dedicated work focus, that I started to question everything about it.

Fortunately, I know this about myself and I while it can still be a bit of a struggle to get back into it all, I know I can use this reluctance to my advantage. I use it to explore options and possibilties to make incremental changes to how I want to spend my time.

So without further ado, here are 5 ways you can get yourself unstuck.

1. Be kind to yourself

When the feeling of “being stuck” or “needing to change” creeps up on you, it is easy to get discouraged, confused or frustrated. Those emotions add to a negative image of ourselves and the situation. However, it does not help you get unstuck.

Instead of getting in your own way about it, and feeling worse about yourself, make an effort to be kind. Don’t fight the feeling or emotions. Acknowledge that it exists.

This too shall pass.

That does not mean nothing will change. But it does mean you are not wasting your valuable energy fighting emotions.

2. Lean into the feeling

It is normal to want to avoid the reluctance. Just ignore it and get back to work. But nothing will change if you do not lean into that uneasy feeling. You will have to face it if you want to change anything.

Maybe you already know what causes that reluctance. Or maybe you don’t. It is entirely possible that you sort-of know what the problem is, but it is overwhelming or scary to face it head on.

You willingness and ability to face your “stuckness” is the first requirement to see what, if anything, you want to change.

3. Make a commitment

Change requires effort. That does not mean pivoting your work, or entire life around 180 degrees. It does mean you have to explore the change.

If you have been kind to yourself and leaned into the feeling, you will have given it some time and attention. From there, make a decision. Does not have to be life-altering, but make a commitment to yourself.

What can you do to explore what or how you want to change?

Take a step, make a commitment, no matter how small. It will help you feel what the change can do for you. How it may help or hinder you. Most importantly, taking action prevents analysis-paralysis. You may feel stuck, but you won’t stay stuck.

4. Reflect and iterate

After you have kept your commitment for a while, Review and reflect on the commitment you made to yourself. What did you learn? How did you feel? Did the change bring you something good, or bad?

Celebrate the fact that you took action for yourself. Then decide how you can iterate on the change. If you want to continue making a change, what is your next step?

Iterating in small steps, will help you get unstuck. Not only that, it will also unfold new paths you had not seen before you started.

5. Compass before the clock

Don’t worry if you’re not perfect at whatever you are trying to achieve. Truth is, you don’t know what perfect looks like. Oftentimes, that “stuck” feeling tells you something you want to move away from in your current situation. What it does not always tell you is “what then”.

Allow yourself room to explore, discover, figure out what and how. The direction you’re going in, is more important than the speed at which you’re going at it.

Wrapping up

Feeling stuck is uncomfortable. It is supposed to be like that.

But you’re not supposed to stay stuck. To recap, use these steps to take action and explore what needs to change, if anything:

  1. Be kind to yourself
  2. Lean into the stuckness to explore it
  3. Commit to taking a small towards getting unstuck
  4. Reflect & Iterate on your experience
  5. Direction is more important than speed

With these steps, you won’t have to commit to making big changes. But you will take action to explore what getting unstuck looks like for you.

You got this, I’m rooting for you!

Looking to get more productive, focused, and resilient?

Join my free Focus Finder email course to transform yourself from deeply distracted to fully focused.

    Looking to get more productive, focused, and resilient?

    Join my free Focus Finder course and go from deeply distracted to fully focused.

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