How to get unstuck

Kitten trapped in cage
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Let’s say it’s a day like any other. You’re behind schedule on a big project (who isn’t?), your account balance seems to decrease by the minute, you wonder if it was your turn to grab the kids from school (hopefully they’re your kids), and you hope it wasn’t because the car was making a funny noise on the way to work this morning. Okay, maybe it’s not a day like any other. It’s worse. You feel stuck. Things don’t go as planned, you don’t know how to proceed. In a word, you’re overwhelmed and can’t go forward. You’re lucky, you can stop wondering

How to get unstuck

Whether it’s a big or a small problem, it doesn’t matter, the process is the same. The first step is always to acknowledge that you have a problem. Do you? Great! Good work. Now,

1. Step back

There’s no point trying to dream up a solution standing where you are, if you want to have a chance at making any progress, you have to step back, take a deep breath, then look at the current situation. If you can’t see the beginning or end yet, go further away.

2. Assess the situation

From here, you should have a better view of what you’re doing. It’s time to find out where you’re going and if it’s close enough to where you want to be going. If you’re killing yourself working, maybe you shouldn’t. See what’s working, and more importantly, what’s not working. Once you have a clear view of the current situation and what you want to achieve, it’s time to

3. Brainstorm new ways

Write down any and every idea you have that may (or may not) improve the current situation. Don’t disregard anything, be creative and not judgmental. You want to open up new possibilities, new ways to go forward. Just write an idea per line, or draw a mind map, whatever feels easier to you. The process will help you gain more perspective. After 15 minutes to an hour (or more), if you feel satisfied,

4. Analyze

Review all the ideas you have, maybe give them a note, according to how fulfilling they are, or what they can give you. Eliminate those that won’t work or won’t give you what you want or need. Keep the rest. You should still have multiple ideas left.

5. Commit

You now have several ideas that you like and that might help you achieve your goals (if you don’t, go back to step 1). Decide and commit to those you want to pursue right now. Put the others somewhere safe, you might want to go back to them in the future.

6. Act

It’s good to gather some ideas, and commit to them. But now, the real work begins, it’s time to act. Start with one little thing you can do right now, make a phone call, order a book or research a subject, it’ll build momentum. Then identify one action that you can do every day to bring you forward, and do it.

7. Continue.. and repeat

Now that you’ve expanded your world a little bit, and sailed on a new path, you have to continue on your way. Once a certain amount of time has passed (a week?) or you want to re-assess the situation go back to step one of the process, and repeat.

There are multiple ways to get unstuck, but each major overhaul of the current situation follow the same path as this article. The basic idea is to get out of the hole, think, then hop on a new way. Ready? Go!

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