Feeling Stuck? Here’s What to Do

Get-unstuck

Do you ever feel stuck?

You know you need to make a change, start the job search, hit the gym, but you’re not sure how to get moving.

When this happens, you may want to avoid it all…maybe you want to grab a bottle of wine, or turn on Netflix or scroll Instagram for hours.

I get it. ​​

Other times you may want to dwell on the problem hoping the extra focus will lead to a breakthrough. (This doesn’t work either.)

In whichever camp you fall, the result is the same: You feel frustrated, and you delay your progress.

Avoidance is usually what happens when you’re feeling stuck.

Let’s stop this pattern – it won’t get you anywhere.

Instead, let’s make real progress.

Here are six steps you can take to go from “I feel really stuck right now,” to “I’ve got this.”

Don’t Ignore It. Acknowledge It.

There’s a nagging feeling.

You may not always be aware of it, but when you have a problem, that feeling is there.

Tuning into your problem is a skill, but it’s not easy to do with so much noise and external demands.

The best way to get better at this is to take time to reflect.

Go for a walk, journal, meditate, spend time alone. Get clear on the moments when you’re feeling your best, and you can tune into the moments when you’re feeling powerless.

Once you’re aware something is wrong, welcome it. There’s a solution for everything, and this is an opportunity to grow.

Write It Down, Ask Why

You’re aware there’s a problem. Now write it out. Start with how you’re feeling, then ask yourself why you’re feeling this way.

For example, the other day I was speaking with a friend about her consulting business. She’s been working on the concept for a few months but has been struggling to launch. She told me she was feeling overwhelmed.

I asked her why, and what specifically was contributing to that feeling. She then listed a number of issues she was having.

  • “I’m lacking the right credentials to break into my industry.”
  • “I’m lacking skills in sales to actually sell my services.”
  • “I just don’t know how to get started. The whole process feels overwhelming.”
  • “I need a mentor.”

As a result of all these issues, she procrastinated,  lived with the frustration, and put her goals on hold.

Writing down exactly what you’re feeling and where you’re struggling brings the problem to light.

Then Dig Deeper

It can be difficult to look at a long list of problems and to know where to start. Which one do you tackle first, and which is the right one to tackle?

The best next step is to ask why again.

For example, why is it that credentials are important? And why aren’t I seeking out the experience I need to improve my credibility?

feeling stuck

After you write this out for each problem, a common thread may appear.

In this case it’s uncertainty and fear. My friend now has an understanding of the larger, underlying issue.

What’s the First Problem You Need to Solve to Reach Your Goal?

Ask yourself: “What’s most important for me to solve right away? What will get me to move forward?”

If there’s a common thread like in this example, you have one fundamental problem to tackle that can solve a myriad of other problems.

If there is no common thread yet, keep going.

Outline the Next Step: The How

Now, brainstorm all the possible solutions to solve your problem. What do you get? How do you feel?

This allows you to get creative, and to also explore all the options you have to move forward.

Lastly, Define the Immediate Solution

You need a next step to take action. To get to this, ask: “What feels like the best, immediate step I can take to feel better about this problem?”

In this example, mindset work to start tackling issues around fear and uncertainty is most important.

Once you select the action item, set a deadline.

If you’re feeling stuck, dig deep, explore solutions, identify the action you need to take.

Then tell me in the comments, did this process lead you to any new insights? What do you do when you’re feeling stuck?

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Jing says:

    Great morning reading! I like how it explains each step of the framework.

  • Lindsay Slutzky says:

    Good read! I’ve been there before and I know I’ll be there again. My husband could really benefit from this right now so I’ll be passing it along!

    I think this stuck feeling can surface as a result of us needing instant gratification. When there’s a list of 10 mini goals/tasks needing to be accomplished before you can even get to the big goal it can be overwhelming. I suck at this but if we can approach those mini tasks differently and give ourselves more credit for them it may help.

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Hi Lindsay! You make such a great point. Our need for instant gratification is definitely a factor, and it’s so hard for me as well to take the mini steps and not focus on the bigger goal. But that’s the best way to progress. Thank you for your thoughts here! Incredibly helpful 🙂

      • Debbie Borg says:

        Belma it is so easy to repeatedly go down the well worn and beaten path of negative ideas we have convinced ourselves of while talking inside our heads. I personally do this a lot!
        When I do as you say, reflect on each step and write things down I get way more clarity and am better equipped to move forward and make something happen!

        Thank you for this! Great article!
        Debbie

        • Belma McCaffrey says:

          Hi Debbie – I’m so glad to hear this article is helpful! And I agree on writing things down and reflecting. It allows you to look at everything a bit more objectively. 🙂

  • Danielle Kayembe says:

    Great advice, and appreciate the process you’ve created around it. That first step is always the hardest.

  • Jillian says:

    Really great advice and clear, easy-to-follow framework. Will be sharing!

  • DM says:

    What a fantastic and thoughtful piece. You do what many authors fall short of: describing only the problem (which many of us can relate to) without offering concrete solutions. I especially like the “How” step. This often becomes a barrier to moving forward in a positive direction.

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thank you so much Debra!:) I’ve always found breaking issues down step by step and asking the right questions (the why/how) key. So glad to hear this resonates!

  • Nicole Giordano says:

    I’m such a fan of writing things down! I think we’re often way too caught up in our own heads. Great post!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thank you Nicole! I completely agree. Seeing your questions down on paper helps you move past them.

  • Leah says:

    Love your format for this, Belma! Asking ‘Why’ and getting to the root of a problem rather than covering it up with X, Y or Z is such a crucial skill that everyone should focus on developing! I’ve printed a few of this work sheet for just such occassions 😉

    Great read!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thanks for your comment Leah! So glad you found it useful AND printed this out. Keep me posted on how it works out for you!

  • Leah says:

    Revisiting this one today :] – Such a great resource to turn to!!

  • sadie says:

    Love this, Belma! This is so timely and practical. You rock!

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