Stuck is not a place

Flipping my calendar over to February (a few days late, I know) was the inspiration for this post. February is right about the time when people who have decided to make changes in their lives who might not be making speedy progress decide that they’re “stuck.” Our New Year’s Resolution drive might have fizzled, or we may have failed and decided that there’s just no point. And if you’re like me, that can leave you feeling frustrated and stuck.

But.

“Stuck” is not a place—it’s a mindset.

We fall into this mindset when we feel like we don’t have any control. We’re stuck in our careers, our relationships, in our health. I hear people talk about it all the time—certainly not just in February!  

Today, I want to invite you to explore that notion of “stuck.” I know that I have caught myself feeling this way—and complaining about it. Let’s take our bodies, because I know there will be readers who can relate. We feel stuck when we can’t seem to make that last change that we so desperately want—to fit into our jeans, or to weigh a certain number or arrive at a certain body composition.

When we consider ourselves stuck, we give away our power. We say, “I am here and there’s nothing I can do about it,” or, “I want to be there but I don’t want to take responsibility for figuring out how to make it happen,” to be a little harsher. Alternatively, maybe where we are is not so bad, and this could all make us realize that we need to be working on acceptance rather than rushing to change.

So, let’s go through a couple of questions I hope will spark some insight and help move you from “stuck” to a much more empowered place:

Where do you feel stuck in your life?

Here, consider where you get frustrated and feel like all you can do is complain. Is it the co-worker who drives you crazy? The debt you’re carrying around from college? I can bet there’s some part of everyone’s life that we sort of decide to tolerate, kicking and screaming and wishing for a fairy godmother to come in and “fix.”

What would it be like to be un-stuck?

Vision here. Dream a little. What would it be like if you could lose weight, or you could learn to love your body, or you could start the career of your dreams? Sometimes our lives present us with situations that we know we do not want for ourselves any more. That’s a great starting point. But unless we know where we are headed, it can be scarier than it needs to be to start on the process of change—an admittedly already scary process. Do your best to ask yourself, what do I really want instead?

What keeps you stuck?

Your list here might involve a lot of external factors, but I encourage you to delve deeper with this one. What’s in your control that contributes to your stuck-ness? Do you tell yourself you always fail and decide to play it safe and stay put? That would be your gremlin or itty bitty shitty committee, which are fierce and bossy but certainly are something we can work on shutting the you know what up so that we can continue on with our awesome lives.

What do you get by being stuck?

This one will piggy-back off of the previous question. Take the example of not being able to lose weight. For some people, the fear is that they’ll fail—so they stay safe by making up a story about being stuck—I speak from experience here. When I think about where I’m at as out of my control, it’s not my fault if I fail at whatever it is I am dying to try. I stay in my safe zone and protect myself from vulnerability.

What’s one little thing that you could change?

So this is the challenge I give to you: what’s one thing you can do in the next week that will represent your commitment to getting un-stuck. How can you embark on the process of getting from where you are to where you’ve decided you would rather be? It does not have to be big—but props to you if it makes you feel some butterflies—but you do have to intentionally decide to step away from where you are. Maybe you decide to tour the gym around the corner from you, or to sign up for a session with a therapist or coach. Maybe you commit to tracking your meals or stretching for 10 minutes a day. Whatever it is for you, make sure it’s meaningful, and make sure you take some pride in the fact that you’re taking the first step—it’s always the hardest.

I would love to hear about your situations in the comments here—the feeling of being “stuck” is a big one for coaching clients and certainly something that a few well-thought-out questions and some self-reflection can help us all with! Stop settling for “stuck” and let’s see what February has in store for you…