This week I got stuck. I don’t enjoy getting stuck but it seems like getting stuck (from time to time) is as sure as the sun will come up in the morning. I’ll get into why I think I got stuck but before I do, let’s dig a little deeper (pun intended) into this subject.
How do we measure stuck-ness?
- By degrees – Does your stuck-ness make you freeze in fear or sweat with anxiety?
- By levels – How far down have you gone in your muddy rut?
- By intensity – How much noisy stress do you feel or is it quiet desperation?
- By the amount of energy it will take to get you unstuck – the deeper you are stuck, the more energy it will take to get you out
- By the nature of the circumstances that got you stuck – the bigger the crisis or nature of the events leading up to your stuck-ness, the bigger the help required to get out
How does the “state” of being stuck affect us?
- It affects us emotionally
- It affects us physically
- It affects our work and productivity
- It affects us spiritually
- It affects our relationships
- It affects us mentally and in our thinking
How did I get stuck?
Several factors are adding mud to my tires and bogging me down.
First, I’ve been stuck in my head and heart because of my next surgery. It will be big and it will be painful – and it’s four months away.
Second, I’m getting stuck in transition as I move from recovery to part-time work. It’s messy and unclear.
Third, as I’m engaging in work I’m getting stuck by the thought that I will have to stop working again when surgery happens. I do a lot of contract work so starting and stopping is very challenging.
Fourth, I keep bumping up against my physical limitations and the challenges associated with them – not to mention the emotional roller coast of being in the third year of what seems like an endless cycle of repair and recovery.
So what exactly can you do to get unstuck?
One thing I know – getting unstuck does not involve trying harder! It’s like when I worked on my Uncle’s farm as a teenager and got the tractor stuck. The last thing you wanted to do was keep spinning in the same rut. If you did, you’d only go deeper! You had to unhook the cultivator, get out of your rut and find a new angle to start pulling from.
What does the new angle look like?
Here are a few strategies I find are helping me get some traction and move from “stuck” to “unstuck”.
1. Admit you’re stuck
This sounds obvious but shouldn’t be assumed. I’ve been owning my “stuck-ness” and it helps. I’ve been journaling my thoughts and observations but also talking to others willing to listen.
2. Stop spinning
The harder you try the less effective you’ll be. Once you own being stuck, stop and rest awhile. Catch your breath. Cut yourself some slack. Pay attention to the light on the dashboard of your life and don’t just push harder. If your “stuck-ness” persists, get help and don’t stay stuck too long.
3. Feed yourself
While listening to one of my podcasts this week, I heard about a book called “Start: Punch Fear in the Face – Escape Average – Do Work that Matters” so I bought it. The topic resonated with me and as I started reading it 5 minutes later (the advantages of using a Kindle) I felt my mind being fed with new ideas and an outside perspective that gave me a new angle to start pulling from.
4. Get some fresh air
This morning before I started through my to do list, I decided to go for a scooter ride through the neighborhood. It was replenishing to watch the dogs chase the birds, say hi to a few walkers and watch the stream rush by. I was more ready to work when I got back home.
5. Do something that matters
When we loose our why we loose our way. Don’t just talk about doing something that matters, start doing it! I tried eight times this week to write a newsletter article I wanted to get out. I couldn’t get it written! Then this morning after my scooter ride, I reconnected with why I was doing it, got focused and did it! A mini-breakthrough from stuck to unstuck.
6. Process your emotion
If part of your stuck-ness stems from emotional challenges (loss, grief, pain, sorrow, frustration, anger) a little venting may be required. I shed a few tears today and felt just a little bit of crud washed out of my soul.
A final word
The bottom line is there is no bottom line or neatly packaged plan to get unstuck. It’s different every time you land in the mud of life. What it takes to get unstuck is a resolve to explore new angles, practice patience, ask God and others for help and keep believing you’ll find your way through the mud to dry ground once again.
How do you typically get stuck?
What works to help you get unstuck?
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