Before Alice got to Wonderland, she had to fall.”
Feeling stuck is either a systemic or emotional issue.
Feeling stuck is a common challenge for professionals. The first step to getting unstuck is to recognize that we are stuck, and then identify why the most likely reasons are for being stuck in the first place. Then, it’s time to get perspective.
This is an important component of the process so that you don’t spin your wheels needlessly on solutions that are not addressing the root problem.
Often, you have to work from the inside out to get unstuck.
How do you identify when you are feeling stuck?
This starts with figuring out what does being stuck look like for you? Are you doing the same thing over and over again (mouse on a treadmill) or not making progress on your projects? Do you find yourself procrastinating all the time? Are you stuck in analysis paralysis? Do you find yourself scrolling through Instagram and Youtube just to avoid tackling that writing project?
What does being stuck feel like for you?
It is different for everyone, but it could look like this:
- You are busy all the time, sans progress;
- You feel insecure in your work;
- You lack motivation & inspiration;
- You don’t want to share;
- You want to destroy it all, you think none of it has merit and you want to start all over again;
- You don’t trust your own instincts – you don’t trust yourself.
Why do you feel stuck?
You must recognize that feeling stuck is not a result of your intherent flaws or deficiencies. Usually, feeling stuck stems from one of the following situations:
1. You don’t have a clear vision.
This usually happens when you haven’t taken the time at the beginning of a project to be intentional about a vision, develop a clear, rich concept, and set a strategy to implement that vision and concept.
2. You have too many, or too few priorities/demands.
It could be just that you have developed a long list of to-do’s rather than an clear list of priorities. This means that a hierarchical list of activities hasn’t been developed which means you will struggle to synthesize what’s important vs. what’s urgent. It can also mean you end up trying to solve for the wrong problem at the wrong time and losing sight of the bigger picture. You then get stuck.
3. You have an internal conflict/contradiction.
This can relate to a lack of clear vision, but it can also be separate and more existential. For example, you might have a contradiction between what your heart is telling you to do, and what your mind is telling you. This might manifest as a difference between what you would like to explore authentically, versus what you think you should be doing. Or, there might be a contradiction between what you would like to explore & the direction your peers are pushing you.
What can you do when you feel stuck?
Here is the short answer. Tough love doesn’t work but something else does: Perspective.
The trick to getting unstuck is (re) gaining perspective.Tweet
So how do you (re) gain perspetive?
1. Revisit your vision:
- It’s always important to be clear on your vision before you start any project – now is the time to go back and define why you are doing this project, what you want to get out of it, and what delivering your dream project would look like.
2. Do the things that make you feel like you:
- Its hard to do great work when you aren’t at your best. But also, when we feel most ourselves, we are most relaxed, and that openness often yields new ideas and insights. So doing the things that make you feel like you can be an almost effortless way to kickstart that project again.
3. Disrupt yourself:
- Change your environment: add music, go outside, work from a cafe.
- Do something else: engage in your favorite hobby, read a book, go to a gallery.
- Slow down: take a break, have a nap, step away from the project for 24 hours if you can.
4. Check in on your self-belief & creative confidence:
- Re-read feedback you’ve previously received or ask a bunch of friends for feedback about you. This works a treat. You’ll be surprised at how people see you.
- Revisit old projects you believe were successful, and look at what you did to make them so.
- Write or read back over your personal, private affirmations.
- Identify where you are looking for external validation, and where that is limiting you. Look for your own interanl mechanisms of validation.
5. Give the project a framework:
- Break it down into steps, write them down, then take one step at a time.
- Talk to a friend – explaining your work will help you understand it better. Get feedback.
- Do a simple journaling or worksheet exercise answering fundamental and critical questions about the project. This will help you gain perspective.
6. And if none of those fit, get radical:
- Change scale – zoom in or out
- Change media – if you’ve been using the computer, sketch, if you’ve been sketching, journal.
- Brainstorm openly with a friend, your mastermind group or social network.
- Try different mind hacks to kick start your process over again.
- Give up. I’m serious. Sometimes when you’re stuck, it helps to surrender to being stuck.
A final word…
So when you next feel stuck (because there will be a next time) step back, zoom out and try to first identify the feeling, understand where it might be coming from, and then work from the inside out to get yourself unstuck.
…and let me know if it works.
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©2022 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A., CPCC