Are You Stuck?

Most people try to do and say the right thing. However, in spite of their effort, things do not always work out as planned. How do you know if you are stuck? There are five symptoms of being stuck. Each of these symptoms has a remedy that can help you reach your goal – big or small.

Sometimes when you are not moving forward as planned, it can feel like being stuck or worse yet, failure. Failure is never fun. That is why so many people fear it. It seems like too much is at risk. It raises your anxiety which makes it harder for you to make wise choices.

Lack of forward movement is easier to handle if it does not negatively affect your self-image. For instance, it is hardest to handle if you have chosen one of your strengths, practiced it, and not been successful. Yet, this is not all bad because sometimes it is how you learn.

When you are not achieving either a personal or professional goal, it is important to have good self-awareness. You need to be able to be honest with yourself. In addition, it is important to listen to feedback from people that you respect. Denial about your behavior or role will only sabotage your progress.

Once you can be honest with yourself, you can check and see if you have any of the five symptoms or warning signs of stalled or stuck performance. If noticed at an early stage, there are steps you can take to begin forward movement and ensure your success.

Symptoms of being stuck are feeling:

1. Uncertainty or self-doubt; you do not believe you can really do the task. You hear yourself saying “I don’t know” a lot.

2. Loneliness; you lack the support system you need to pursue your goal.

3. Lack of meaning or an emptiness in your life; you have no sense of purpose in regards to your life.

4. Frustration; what you value about life and how you are spending most of your time may be in conflict.

5. Aggressiveness; there may be a fear of losing something that is very important to you.

If you notice that you have any of the above symptoms, try using one or more of the following remedies:

1. Uncertainty – Listen to feedback as objectively as possible. What can you learn? Rise above criticism and mistakes. Trust and believe in your vision. According to Robert E. Quinn, author of Deep Change, sometimes we have to “build the bridge as we walk on it.”

2. Loneliness – Initiate ways to get actively involved with something you are interested in or, even better, passionate about. Seek out positive, trustworthy individuals for support. Resist isolating.

3. Lack of meaning – Find something to do that is challenging or inspiring somewhere in your life. Re-invent yourself. What is your purpose in life, or what do you want to be remembered for doing? Reframe the situation to give new meaning, i.e. “when given a lemon, make lemonade.”

4. Frustration – Be aware of your values. The more closely a situation matches your main values, the more satisfied you will feel. Stop reacting. Break your goal into smaller steps. Make sure the time frame you give yourself to accomplish what you want is realistic.

5. Aggressiveness – Slow down; take deep breaths. Make a list of things in your life that you appreciate, are grateful for, or have gone well. Do this several times a week. Ask for a time out, and set a time to talk later. Be aware of your needs. Problem solve by focusing on possible solutions. Negotiate, and stay positive.

Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or coach to help you sort out which symptom(s) you have. That person can also be helpful in holding you accountable for trying the appropriate remedy and checking back with you to ensure you are making progress. Once you are moving forward again, you will have the needed energy and motivation to pursue your goal.