Four simple tips to start moving forward.
I’m in the midst of writing a book. Anyone who has ever written or attempted to write a book knows that this is no easy or small task. I hit a point a few months back when I started feeling stuck, stagnant and, frankly, overwhelmed by the whole writing process. My husband and I were about to take a trip to Belize during which I’d had the intent to write. I realized, however, that I wasn’t really writing and that what I truly needed was a break from trying to write. I decided to give myself the month of travel to break from the book, sure that I’d return to Colorado rested, recharged, full of creative inspiration and motivated to write. I did return home rested and recharged, although the motivation and inspiration I had hoped to cultivate while away failed to appear. I didn’t feel fresh and ready to write as I sat down at my laptop. Rather, I felt stuck. Just stuck. I shut the laptop, which remained closed for three more weeks.
The cornerstone of my therapy and coaching practice is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training (ACT). ACT is a value-based, action-oriented approach that fosters awareness, personal discoveries, aligning with values and defining and taking the steps needed to get where you want to go. As I tapped into the key elements of ACT, I started thinking about the strategies we draw from when we’re not moving toward where we want to be. We procrastinate. We justify. We distract. We start feeling trapped in life. In these moments, we turn a blind eye to what is most important to us, preferring to avoid the pain or discomfort that sometimes comes with moving forward. I thought about the clients I’ve had over the years who came to me in times when they felt utterly stuck. I thought about my own current stuckness and how and why we remain in relationships, jobs or situations that we don’t derive satisfaction from. In these times, it’s important to get to the underbelly of the stuckness and identify the fear of rejection, pain or simply change that keeps us from taking healthy risks and moving toward a new goal.
This kind of awareness training often begins the work I do with both therapy clients and as a personal life coach. Getting unstuck and heading toward where you want to go always begins with understanding where you are right now.
Four Tips To Getting Unstuck
Tap into you.
Experiencing discomfort, pain and fear in inevitable in life. However, while inevitable, it’s these sensations that often keep us stuck. We do whatever we can to avoid uncomfortable feelings, although when left unexplored and unaddressed, we remain stagnant and feeling stuck. I understand feelings—good or bad—to be messengers and that there is a lot to be learned through them. If you’re feeling stuck in one or multiple aspects of your life, take some time to tap into you and identify the source of your discomfort. Get to the underbelly of your experience by asking yourself and answering the tough questions. Why is it that you’re remaining in a job or relationship that makes you unhappy? How come you keep smoking or eating poorly when you know it’s not good for you? Why do you continue to let others run the show? Or, in my case, what is really preventing you from writing? Sitting with questions and the associated feelings—even and perhaps especially the really difficult ones—and getting clear on your perception of your pain is the first step toward moving past it.
Sometimes being in a place of stuckness is your way of giving yourself time to percolate, which is often true during times of significant change and important life transitions. But, it’s also equally important to stay aware of where you are in the present moment as you’re taking stock of where you are now and where you want to go. It’s kind of like baking a cake. The cake must stay in the oven long enough to rise and become full. However, you need to be aware of time and ensure that you take the cake out before it is burnt. While taking time to reflect is important and can help you understand where you are and what’s important to you, it’s vital to keep your eye on the cake (your goals), which is challenging to do while ruminating over the past or stressed about the future. The bottom line is that you can’t do anything to alter what’s already happened and it’s counterproductive to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. As you’re in a place of percolation, stay present and aware.
Where are you at this exact moment in time? What are you doing? How do you feel? Move beyond your thoughts and tap into all of your five senses and beyond as you become aware of your current experience. Consider how you move in the space you’re in. Broaden this exercise and explore how you feel when you’re around certain people, when you first walk into your office, what you experience mentally, physically and emotional just before and just after you indulge in a habit you’d like to break. Also, take time to tap into your “rule-governed” behavior. Are you doing what you’re doing because it innately feels right to you or because it’s how you’ve been taught that women, men, mothers, fathers, professionals, etc. are supposed to act? In this society, it’s common practice to get caught up in rules and roles and lose touch with who we inherently are. And, it’s equally as common to get and feel stuck when living for someone or something else. Practicing awareness of where you are and how you feel in all aspects of your life can lead to important discoveries and the information you need to make empowered changes.
I often say to my clients that you can have the most fine-tuned thoughts and best of intentions, but they’re all for naught without action. Just the willingness to take the smallest step begins the forward motion movement needed to get unstuck. Even if you’re not sure where you want to go, make a decision that it’s time to move and do something. Anything. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do provided that it’s something different. Breaking from routine, taking mindful action and doing something that is in alignment with your values allows you to gather information about the present moment in the present moment—whether it feels good or not. As mentioned earlier, all feelings are messengers. By tapping into your feelings and giving yourself permission to really feel them, you can learn something valuable about yourself and use that information to move forward.
I’m finally writing again, but it took the awareness, period of percolation and then action to reconnect with my purpose and put words to paper. I needed to notice where I was, why I was there and reconnect with the end goal and the values that tied me to it. Once I did that, I sat down and typed a word. Then two and then three…
Are You Ready To Move?
In what aspects of your life do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re living in alignment with what is most important to you? Do you even know what is important to you at this stage in your life?
We all get stuck sometimes. And in these times, a thoughtful, insightful and skilled certified life coach can help you to clarify values, figure out where you are and where you want to be and devise a strategy of actionable steps you can take to get there. If you’re feeling stuck in life and want to move forward with increased confidence, purpose and ease and are interested in learning more about working with a life coach, I invite you to contact me at 720-260-7702 for a free 20-minute call. I’m happy to discuss your particular needs and goals and answer any questions you have about getting unstuck coaching and my practice.