Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.47.08 PM“No one drowns by falling into the water. They drown by staying there.”

“Somebody help me! I’m stuck!” Life has a way of pushing us over if we let it.

So here you are – treading water – again! You can feel the mud sucking up through your toes, making the next step difficult. You feel a disorientation and a lack of equilibrium as you attempt to make a move.

When we are stuck, that means we are experiencing a regression of the imagination. We feel that things will always remain the way they are right now. It’s a picture of Dante’s Inferno – this waterless pit where all these people are stuck, desperately trying to reach up and feeling quite impotent to do anything about their predicament.

That’s exactly what “stuckness” is – a regression of the imagination. Heed this advice….

“When you are going through Hell – keep going!”  – Winston Churchill

What are some reasons for getting stuck? Here are some common ones.

  • You’ve lost your passion. Passion and purpose are tied closely together. In fact your passion is fueled by your purpose. Why would we get excited about something that doesn’t matter? If you just follow the upward mobility path because everyone else is doing it, your inner passion will start to fizzle. It’s possible to move up the ladder – and away from the things that interest you.
  • You’re stuck with yesterday’s news. It’s impossible to have a better day if you are still worrying about yesterday. The “could have’s” and “should have’s” are no longer relevant. You can’t move forward if you have one foot on the brake, and that’s what living in the past does. Let go of old news – including the regret – that is keeping you stuck.
  • Your life trajectory is not where you want to go. What other options, including career paths, are available to you? There’s a freedom that comes from exploring other career paths in the same organization or in another company. Don’t be a pushover. The antidote to being a pushover is knowing what you want out of life. That fans your passion furnace and gets you going.

So when you feel stuck – and who hasn’t felt stuck – remember these 5 things.

  1. Feeling stuck is just that – a feeling. It’s not a fact. The typical response to feeling stuck is to look outside ourselves and figure out what’s causing the issue. We focus on the symptoms instead of the fundamental problem. Rather than looking for something to blame, look at how you are feeling, and how it’s impacting your thinking. Then ask yourself how you are going to respond. You can’t change everything outside of you. Yet one thing you can control is your attitude toward your current position. And that often changes your current reality as well.
  2. Being stuck signals that it’s time for a change. It’s often a sign that what we are currently doing is no longer working. Embrace this feeling as an ally. It could be a habit or a perspective that needs to change. They are no longer helpful. Replace them with something useful.
  3. Getting unstuck is not easy, but it’s worth it. It might be that you’ve simply gotten comfortable and you’ve quit trying. Maybe your job is no longer challenging, or life has developed a pattern to it that has lost its luster. The first step is to recognize this. That activates your brain to look for solutions. Moving forward can feel risky. You must be intentional and start with mini steps in the right direction. Here it is wise to enlarge your network and ask for help and feedback.
  4. It takes energy to get unstuck. Energize your passion with belief. That starts with believing in your strengths. The tendency is to focus on weakness, but they never inspire you. It’s a good bet that you are underestimating your strengths and amplifying your weaknesses – this is all too common. This world – your world — will be a better place because you will succeed. This in itself will fuel your passion. And that is the opposite of being stuck.
  5. Dump the excuses and Reach high. That might seem counterintuitive when you feel stuck, but remember that an excuse is standing between you and the next step.

It’s easier to go from failure to success, than to go from excuses to success.

Don’t fear failure. Fear excuses.

A vision for your future and an acceptance of your current reality is the best way to get unstuck.

Being stuck sucks — Don’t leave yourself out of your life. What helps you get unstuck? We would love to hear your comments.