By Neal Burgis, Ph.D.
“Getting Stuck is Not a Problem. Staying Stuck is”– Alistair Smith
There is nothing more daunting than staring at a blank computer screen or blank page to write your Pulitzer Prize best-selling book with blank pages. Yet business executives just like everyone else from time-to-time experience getting stuck on ideas to help you complete a task, grow your business and experience stress, frustration and overwhelm.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” -Bernice Johnson Reagon
If you knew where it was coming from you might be able to head it off, yet it can come on suddenly and you don’t know why, at least at first. Some say the experience of being stuck is the perception of limited choices. No one likes to feel stuck. In order to get unstuck, you have to step back and look at what happened before, during and after you got to where you are right now.
“Right now I’m stuck somewhere between what if, what might, what could have, and what never will and all I want to know is what actually is.” – Christina Hart
Being stuck in a rut doing the same daily routines and not going outside of that can stop you from accepting opportunities because you don’t know which way to go. Focusing on your stress, frustration and overwhelmed feelings can paralyze you. The problem is not just being stuck it is the fact of how you go about keeping yourself in a stuck position.
“If you are facing a new challenge or being asked to do something that you have never done before don’t be afraid to step out. You have more capability than you think you do but you will never see it unless you place a demand on yourself for more.” -Joyce Meyer
Being Stuck Has a Fear Component
Being stuck has the same experience as fear. This is a response to the stress, frustration and overwhelm you have that is perceived as a threat or is harmful to you. As a result you feel anxious and nervous that has you not think on the things that matter most to you.
Typically when people are stuck you don’t realize that fear plays a part. You need to understand how fear allows you to be stuck without realizing it. When you struggle with fear it’s either because of a decision you made or are about to make or because you don’t like being criticized or judged for something you said or did. Most people don’t like the latter at all.
Fear of not getting things done by a set deadline still stands. You may worry that you can’t get things done on time. While fear is completely normal, it does prevent you from creating or producing anything new. Working through this issue helps you deal with it better. Sometimes the fact of doing something outside your comfort zone is fearful. When you do it a few times you get used to it be part of your routine.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
“Fear is often our immediate response to uncertainty. There’s nothing wrong with experiencing fear. They key is not to get stuck in it.” -Gabrielle Bernstein
With most people using traditional ways to get unstuck you still focus on your stressful, frustrated and overwhelmed thoughts. By doing so, you keep yourself in a stuck position. This is being reactive. You panic and go into a crisis mode. This doesn’t help you to move forward.
Too many leaders expect to stay the course and continue conducting business on a traditional approach. You expect to work the same way as before and get different results.
For many young executives you were promoted because of your skills, talent, problem-solving abilities. You thought it was great to sit in a top spot and delegate work to other. What you did not expect was that being an executive you also had projects you have to complete. This leads you to not work from 9-to-5, but 50 hours or more each week. This can be too overwhelming for many especially if you thought things would be very different.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. A new approach is probably all you need to get unstuck. (Albert Einstein)
With this Comes Self-Confidence
“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”-Thomas Carlyle
The most important step in building self-confidence is simply to take action. Take a few minutes and think about your being stuck. How you get unstuck has a lot to do with how resilience to work through your stuck situation with patience.
Be curious and think about the fact that when you are stuck in fear you are close up. Essentially, ask questions. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from being curious about why you got stuck. You may even find that either you caused it or it had nothing to do with you.
“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear.” -William Jennings Bryan
Work on your self-esteem as you need to build up on your self-confidence and believe in yourself more.
Shift Your Perspective
“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.” -Ray Davis
Adapt a fresh idea of the fear of the unknown keeps you stuck. The more decisions and actions you take – the more you will believe in your ability to overcome your fears. Identify what actions you can take to move forward.
By shifting your perspective I mean for you to not react to your being stuck and go into a crisis or panic mode. This only keeps you more stressful, frustrated and overwhelm. Instead think more proactively. In doing so you need to take a step back and look at what happened. This allows you to start taking action to avoid further feelings of being stuck and stay creative. You are then much more easily able to get out of your stuck feelings and move forward. (This article does not specifically tell how this experience goes beyond what is told right here).
Know When to Multitask and When to Unitask
“I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face.” – Actor Johnny Depp
It’s important to recognize when you are taking on more than you can handle. Too many people accept working on more than one task at a time. You may think you can be more productive working on multiple projects yet you need to know what you really can and cannot do. Time constraints also play a big part in deciding what and how much to take on. Comparing multitaskers with non-multitaskers, Stanford professor Clifford Nass concluded that multitaskers performed poorly on a variety of tasks, were easily distracted, and had difficulty focusing.
Conclusion: There are lots of different ways to get unstuck. Use the ones that work for you. A great way to get unstuck and find breakthrough ideas is to ask questions on assumptions and beliefs, re-frame the rules your business. Do they fit for today’s workplace? Shift your thinking from traditional ways of doing business and getting unstuck to unconventional activities. Remember, give yourself permission to fail and make mistakes. This is expected in today’s way of conducting business.
“You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.” – Wayne Dyer