How to Get Unstuck When You Aren’t Making Progress

Three Questions You Must Ask

I hated it. Every minute of it.

Every Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday morning. 8am. I sat and I struggled big time.

1st Year Economic & Business Statistics. Let’s not beat around the bush. Economic & Business statistics is just a fancy name for maths. Just hard, confusing, boring maths. 8am class, four days per week. And I hated it.

No matter how I motivated myself to succeed, how I tried to apply myself to this course, how I attempted to master this subject matter, I just could not get anywhere.

And that was the problem.

Why did I hate this maths course so much? It was because I couldn’t make progress.

No one like a hopeless situation. No one likes to feel stuck.

Having a sense of progress is central to maintaining a strong internal motivation. When we feel like we are moving forward, our motivation to keep doing what moves us forward is fueled.

In my life I have been in situations – starting a business, founding two organisations, getting projects off the ground – where the goal you are seeking seems closer to attain when you start than when you are halfway into it. The vision can be strong but the execution – bringing together of people, relationships, decisions & resources – can often be far more complex than you initially imagined.

If you have ever attempted anything of significance in your life you will know you will reach a point where you feel stuck, like a vehicle spinning its wheels in the sand, unsure of how you will ever get out of the predicament you find yourself in.

So, how do you make progress when you feel:

  • Unsure of what to do next?
  • How to get started on your dreams?
  • When you want to keep moving forward but you feel stuck?

Here are three questions to ask yourself in order to move you forward

  1. What do you want?
  2. What is stopping you?
  3. What do you need to do to obtain it?

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

So you are feeling stuck. What is it you are trying to achieve?

For some of us, “stuck” is a feeling. We feel like we are not making progress. We feel like others are passing us by. We feel like we are wasting time. But what is that feeling pointing to? What is it you really want deep down that you are not seeing materialise?

Name it. Define it. Call it out.

Whether it is a position, a relationship, a certain income level, a number of clients – whatever it is – put a name to it and write it down. That is the goal you are pursuing.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

Don’t be surprised if you feel resistance at this point.

It seems like a silly thing to do. It can also seem to be restrictive; there may be many things you want to pursue in life. But that’s not the point.

Defining a goal doesn’t stop you from pursuing other worthwhile goals. But not defining a goal won’t help you move beyond where you are right now that is making you feel stuck.

Getting unstuck starts with knowing what you’re going after. When you define your target, you become free to pursue it, putting actions in place to obtain it.

WHAT IS STOPPING YOU?

Now you know where you want to be, ask yourself – what’s stopping me from getting there?

What’s Stopping You?

Ok, this is where we can go a little bit “amateur psychologist” on ourselves. But bear with me here.

The fact that you are feeling stuck in the pursuit of this goal should tell you something. There is a disconnect between where you right now and where you want to be.

When you think of your goal, what comes to mind that is holding you back?

It could be one of the following:

  • A belief or mindset – I can’t do this, I don’t have what it takes, I only ever get so far
  • A fear – What if I fail? What if it doesn’t work out? What is I lose? What if it costs me?
  • An emotion – I feel inadequate, I feel unmotivated, I don’t feel like it
  • An excuse – I don’t have the skills / contacts / finances / knowledge I need

We all have fears. We all have feelings of inadequacy. We all make mistakes and let things get in the way. I know I need to write in order to see the vision I have for my future fulfilled. But to do that, I have to decide to put aside thoughts about what others think. What if what I write is boring? What if it sounds dumb? What if my writing sucks?

It’s easy to read that and think “dude, what’s the big deal?” (and you’d be 100% right).

But when you’re facing a roadblock and it’s keeping you stuck it feels like a massive deal. You have to decide, am I going let those feelings stop me, or am I going to push past that to see my goals fulfilled.

What’s amazing is that if we stop and take note of what is holding us back it is almost always within our control.

The beliefs holding you back, you can change.

The fears holding you back, you can overcome.

The emotions you feel, don’t need to be obeyed.

The excuses you are accepting, you can find a way around.

You can do this.

You can!

Identify the barrier, the blockage, the hurdle.

How do you do that? I believe deep down you know.

Your conscience knows and if you take time to stop and listen, it will become clear. Just stop. And pause. Take a moment of mindfulness. Listen. Let your conscience reveal the real issue to you.

Write it down because the next step is to push past the point of your opposition.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO OBTAIN IT?

You have named what you want. You now know what is holding you back.

Now finally, you are free to make a plan to take a hold of it.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can’t make progress without taking decisive action. Making the connection between the goal and the action you need to take is the key to your success.

One of the amazing aspects of living in the 21st century is that there is almost nowhere in the world that is off limits.

I can open a new tab on my browser, open a website and using the numbers on the piece of plastic in my wallet book a flight to just about anywhere in the world. Paris, New York, Mumbai, Tahiti. Anywhere I feel like going.

Choosing the destination is easy. Getting there is what involves planning and action.

I need to make sure I have my passport up to date. I may need a visa. I need to work out connecting flights. I need to organise my luggage. I need to arrange for the dog to be looked after. I need to organise accommodation. Airport transfers. Not to mention an itinerary. All of this and more is needed to realise the goal of getting to and enjoying your destination.

I suspect you realise this and your next question is “yes, but how?

The key to planning how you will achieve your goal can be done easily by following this one key.

START SMALL.

Lewis Howes says “Start with a small goal.  I’m talking SUPER small. This is completely different than breaking a goal down into smaller piecesI’m asking you to make a small goal.

If your goal is to:

  • Become a film-maker, start by posting a clip to social media this week
  • Lose 10 kg, start by eating one healthy lunch this week
  • Become debt-free, pay down an extra $20 this week

Make your starting point small and set yourself up for success.

Achieving a goal takes action. And action takes belief.

Belief is like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it gets. The beauty of a small goal is that it only requires a small amount of belief that you can do it! But achieving the small goal builds momentum and fuels belief that you can do more and achieve more, until the thing you want is not just attainable, but it is yours.

GETTING UNSTUCK

You don’t have to be stuck. You can choose to take action today to move yourself forward making progress towards your goals.

Know what you want, discern what’s stopping you, and take the next (small) step to get there.

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