What To Do When You're "Stuck"

Put Yourself In the Process Required For Success

By Mardig Sheridan & Jim Sorrensen



I used to facilitate a therapy to help people to move more rapidly through grief. The method worked, but very few people were willing to learn it, electing instead to stay in their grief.

Consider life as a series of steps from birth to death. Success is progressing up those steps with a sense of fulfillment and balance.

Regardless of your desire to be successful, it's not hard to find yourself stuck on any one particular step. You wish you were moving up, but don't. It becomes the fodder for daydreams. You run the next step by your committee of fears to see if it's a good idea and—surprise, surprise—the answer comes back, No. Too busy, too tired, still getting ready, too hard, too much money, too much rejection…the tyranny of Reasons Why Not.

I used to facilitate a therapy to help people move more rapidly through grief. The method worked, but very few people were willing to learn it, electing instead to stay in their grief. Why? Because they know what grief feels like. Not having the familiar to cling to can feel precarious. Being stuck in grief may not be joyful, but at least it's familiar and easy.

It can be much the same to stay in a job you hate. The first and most important question is: do you truly want to get unstuck?

On the Gunboat

If you're satisfied with the step you're on, there's no compelling reason to move. There's plenty of life and learning you can do where you are.

Are you excited about where you are, the step you're on? Do you find there's excitment and passion in your voice when you talk about what you're doing now? What role are distractions playing in your life?

Jim tells how he served on a river gunboat in Vietnam for a year and a half longer than he needed to. He stayed because the casualness of the gunboat was more comfortable to him than the starched control of a Navy base back in the States or a ship at sea. Also, he had been promoted several times—and now feared being incompetent at his new rank in a different environment.

Jim chose the familiarity of living in a war zone over change. For him, a war zone was "normal." "Normal" doesn't always mean healthy or satisfying. But if we're afraid to move up, we may unconsciously surround ourselves with people who live on the same step and don't want to move either.

A critical component of getting unstuck is being conscious of when you are stuck. Jim says that he recognizes being stuck when he's suddenly watching a lot of television and hoping there's something on that's not too bad. I know I'm stuck when I find myself playing tennis for hours every day.

You'll know you've overstayed your time on a particular step by a sense of boredom, lack of passion, or the absence of challenge. Your friends and family will notice complaining, stress and lack of motivation. Maybe you'll start picking fights, leave a relationship or job, move—do something drastic or even destructive—just to feel alive. Or you'll invest your time in distractions—movies, TV, professional sports, computer games, alcohol, drugs…. That's why we pay our distraction suppliers so well. A movie star or sports figure will make more in a year than we pay a schoolteacher, fireman or nurse in a lifetime! They help us to keep from noticing the lack of fulfillment and passion in our lives.

It's scary to move up because you are guaranteed to make mistakes and face failure. In fact, unless you're doing some failing, you haven't left the step you're on—and we've all been well trained to avoid failure, haven't we? Worry about looking foolish and a fear of failure will keep you on the same step for a long time—that is, unless you find something more powerful to lure you into taking the risk of progressing up.

If you dream about what might be at the top of the stairs but don't believe that it's really there, or that you can attain it, then you're not visualizing, you're just fantasizing. And who wants to get uncomfortable for a fairy tale?

No doubt there are some perfect people who never get stuck. We just haven't met them yet. Meanwhile, here are some invaluable tools for the rest of us.

1. Assess Your Current Reality

Are you excited about where you are, the step you're on? Do you find there's excitement and passion in your voice when you talk about what you're doing now? Ask your friends how they view you. What role are distractions playing in your life? Get conscious of what you do to avoid risk taking.

If you are feeling stuck, where are you stuck? Be precise. Sometimes when we're stuck in one arena, it impacts everything in our life—but it's important to be specific about where you're stuck. For example, feeling stuck in your business may carry over into your relationships with family, but it's really the business that you're feeling stuck about, and that's where you'll need to focus.

2. Acknowledge and Honor Where You Are Now

A common response to feeling stuck is to castigate yourself for it. "If I can just beat myself into submission, maybe I'll hop to it and start taking on the world!" Unlikely. In fact, if you make yourself wrong for where you are, your willingness to move up will be adversely affected. Have at least as much empathy for yourself as you would for anyone else that you love. If you were to tell someone else that her feelings weren't valid, how would she respond? It's hard when you're feeling stuck—and you have the right to feel what you are feeling.

3. Own It: Stay Out of Victim Mode

A common response to feeling stuck is to castigate yourself for it. If you make yourself wrong for where you are, your willingness to move up will be adversly affected. Have at least as much empathy for yourself as you would for anyone else that you love.

Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm stuck in my job…in this relationship…in this situation…"? That attitude, of being a victim of circumstance, places the solution outside oneself; therefore, you give up any power to change it. Instead, adopt an attitude of being at the cause, not at the effect. It is an attitude of ownership: "this is mine." Owning the reality means being accountable for your present results—and more importantly, reclaims your power to solve your dilemma.

4. Create a Vision

Vision is crucial to getting unstuck. Without a vision, it's difficult to know which direction is "up." A vision is the source of your willingness to take the next risk step.

Think of a time when you were positively compelled to have or do something you wanted. I'll bet you had no trouble getting up in the morning and going to work on it. In fact, you probably couldn't have stopped yourself if you tried. Thinking about next steps usually evokes the committee of fears—and unless you have a compelling vision that is more powerful, that committee will always win the argument.

Vision keeps you focused on the positive portion of your beliefs. It's about creating a fulfilling lifestyle, a blueprint for your life. You check in with it daily to support the life you're building and the steps you're taking. Remember: aim at nothing—and you'll hit it every time!

5. Take Action and Use Support

A vision without action is just a daydream. W. Edwards Deming used to say, "Excellence is achieved one incremental step at a time." Sometimes what holds us back is looking to the future and becoming overwhelmed with the distance from here to there. That can be intimidating, so inertia, inaction and shutdown set in—synonyms for "stuck." Getting unstuck requires focused action. We take action when the journey becomes its own reward. When each step is rewarding, we stay motivated.

The most difficult thing is to get started. Here are the steps to get into action:

A. Determine your next step.

Decide what is the single next incremental action step you need to take to be on course with your vision.

B. Decide by when.

Set a deadline for completing that action step.

C. Gather support.

Put a dream team of people in your corner—people who will not buy your excuses and reasons for being stuck. Tell them your next action step and the deadline. Sometimes people want to support you to do it their way. Instruct them in what works best for you.

D. Do it quickly.

This is the real secret to success in network marketing. When you take the risks, make the exposures, put out the opportunity, you are in the process required for success.

If it's worth doing, then do it now. Henry Miller wrote, "Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement." As you take the next step up and hit your doubt, worry, frustration and difficulty, the temptation is to quit.

Most people spend their lives getting ready to do something. Edward Young wrote, "Procrastination is the thief of time." When you have vision as your guide, when you are taking steps to achieve it, and when you have unyielding support—you will get unstuck.

E. Win or lose, celebrate that you took the step up.

When you take the next step and win, take some time to acknowledge yourself. Even if you take the risk and fail, there is cause for celebration. Taking the risk is indeed its own reward. When you detach from the results and attach to the process, you are being successful; the rewards are sure to come.

The Process is the Answer

This is the real secret to success in network marketing. When you take the risks, make the exposures, put out the opportunity, you are in the process required for success. When you celebrate the process instead of the results, no "No" will discourage you: you become stronger than your fear of rejection.

William James said, "Ten percent will take the risks necessary to have a rich and fulfilling life. The other 90 percent will spend their lives finding the reasons, excuses and justifiers for why their lives aren't working out very well."

Reasons are what we see when we lose sight of our vision. Staying stuck is the result.

Jim Rohn has said, "Success lies in the opposite direction of the normal pull. Average people look for ways of getting away with it; successful people look for ways of getting on with it."

When I hear a person complain of being stuck, I ask these questions:

1. Do you have a sense of purpose?
2. Do you know what brings meaning to your life?
3. Do you have an attainable and believable vision? Is it written down?
4. Do you have strong support people encouraging you to take action?

If you answered "No" to any of the above, the next step to getting unstuck is right in front of you.

MARDIG SHERIDAN
(mardig@mardig.com) is a Seattle-
based trainer and author of "Winning the Human Race," a multi-media
success training program.

JIM SORENSEN has dedicated his
career to assisting people in getting better results while increasing their
level of personal satisfaction. As a public speaker, he has engaged
and entertained hundreds of thousands.