10 Ways to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

 
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Like the flower that blooms in the Spring, it takes the right conditions to break through the ground.  Breaking through personal obstacles is really no different.

The Rut: Anything that is keeping you stuck from where you’re desiring to go.  

Other ways that describe being stuck:

  1. I’m in a job I dislike
  2. I’m not moving forward in my role 
  3. I can’t get ahead of the bills
  4. My boss doesn’t seem to recognize the contribution I make
  5. I feel blah all the time 

Recognizing you’re stuck is 50% toward the solution.  Some don’t even see they’re stuck until a crisis hits. Being stuck wasn’t something that happened once or twice, it’s something that progressed over time.

10 Ways to move beyond stuck

  1. Look at what is actually not stuck: Leverage those resources
  2. Identify your supports – or seek out support
  3. Look at self sabotage – ways your choices are making it harder to succeed
  4. Ask yourself: What does being stuck really mean…what does it require me to do?
  5. What one tipping point do you need that would make the difference?  
  6. Are your expectations holding  you back?  Are they the right ones?
  7. Are you doing more, or expecting more?
  8. What do I need to do less of, and more of?
  9. Learn, expand.
  10. Understand that struggle is making you stronger

Not moving down a desired path doesn’t mean you aren’t moving.  It means something is taking a different direction unintended.

Moving beyond a challenge requires concerted effort to understand the patterns around you, many of which need discovered.

Work through being stuck by identifying the pattern in operation, then choose a set of new patterns that may lead to different results.

5 Ways to Make Things Better Everyday

  

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When you have a lot of demands, it is inevitable that “self delaying” or procrastination creeps in.  It seems the more you do, the more things are still there.  Remaining focused on important things becomes quite a chore when you’re so busy being busy.  How do you make things better when it seems all you’re doing is chasing your tail?

  1. Reflect on why things are not better. It may your mindset.  Things may actually be OK,  but you are simply unsatisfied with the repetitive patterns in your life.  A lack of satisfaction and reasons for it, is the first path to explore to make things better.
  2. Look at what is sapping your energy. How you are managing your energy on a daily basis is another key answer in making things better.  Are poor habits, overeating, lack of activity, avoidance behaviors or sleeping impacting you? These are valuable clues to self improvement.
  3. Engage a improvement plan, act on something everyday.  Making things better may require you to implement one courageous act everyday.  Just that one deliberate act puts you on the path to better results.
  4. Adjust your mindset. Be faithful to yourself and act.  Self-talk, personal affirmations and rewarding yourself for making a piece of your life better, is important for keeping motivation high.
  5. Generate everyday change by documenting what is better.  Just a 15 minutes at the end of your day noting your personal victories creates the mindset for the next day.  Keeping these accomplishments in front of you gives you the momentum for the next day.

Making something better is a daily adventure.  Resolve in 2016 to make a daily effort to improve something small everyday.

Quick Ways to Reestablish Focus

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These days, focus can be quickly swept away in the flurry of demands and people issues that present.    The more roles you participate in, the more you know how to do, and the more effective you are, there are corresponding demands on your time.

This doesn’t have to be the result.  Reestablishing focus, is about managing what happens around you, either on a prevention level, or in the ways you take future steps to decrease the problem from happening again.  The way you maintain your focus is about making sure that your “overload” doesn’t hamper taking the next step.  The ways you maintain your focus, or reestablish it, may surprise you, because they are normally things we have within our direct control.

5 Ways to Reestablish Focus:

Maintain good sleep hygiene: This means good rising and retiring times.  It also means not burning the candle at both ends. Stress creation is often a function of poor sleep, disrupted sleep, or habits of staying up too late.  Poor sleep is a major contributor and byproduct of mental health issues.  Addressing sleep is often the first step taken in treatment – obtaining better sleep, builds an individual’s ability to deal with real situations in their lives with more strength.

Watching what you eat: Although this is not an article on dietary issues and weight loss, the food choices we make, can contribute to the ways we handle emotional issues.  Poor decisions with eating – inconsistent times, eating the wrong kinds of foods, and over-eating, can all impact how we mentally handle decisions around us.  Eating heavier foods, and too much food, can lead to insensitivity, and a tendency to internalize problems, rather than working them through.

White Space: What type of time do you set aside to do what you need to do? Often a source of poor focus is being over committed, and over-scheduled.  In other words, we bite off more than we can choose, and think we are wonder-people. Building ‘white space’, or time spaces in your schedule, gives you the leverage you need to do other things that feed your ability to focus.  This may include reading, journalling, reflection, listening to music, specific project planning, or prioritizing a project.

Keeping Active: This can be anything from walking to your car, taking the steps, playing with your kids, or planned exercise. The intention and follow through with some type of physical activity (not the amount) is what clears the cobwebs from your mind.  It allows our minds to filter through what’s important, and choose your next focus.

Recording What you Do: If you have a problem you want to address, or need to ‘Get Focused’, start naming it, recording it, and measuring it.  This is how you find the patterns. Keep your productivity tools to a few essentials, and don’t get over focused on using technology.  You can have a lot of ‘tools’ that never get used in effective ways, because there are too many of them. Choose the tools that feel most comfortable and go with those, record your accomplishments, and what you are doing.  It will create a better awareness of where you need to go.

The key to better focus, is about centering on things that change your body’s response to its environment.  It is about recording what you want, finding patterns, and then locating where you need to go.

Guidelines for Working Through Personal Conflict & Doubt



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Personal conflict impacts everyone.  There are competing concerns, dilemmas, and contradictory thoughts that create stress and doubt.

Conflict is essentially a ‘Wish’ and a ‘Fear’.  What we wish for has a corresponding fear.

Stress and doubt can be enduring and stifle productivity and healthy choices.  The ways conflict impacts us can lead to:

  1. Missed opportunities 
  2. Avoidance
  3. Unhealthy coping behaviors 
  4. Not fulfilling our capacity 

Moving beyond doubt – Realize that your strength is that you can name the fear that drives your conflict.  The fear keeps our capacity to act at a standstill.  

Learn to confront your fear – is your fear based on the past or failure?  Is it a realistic fear, or are you simply avoiding something that you need to move ahead on?

Many ‘wishes’ to move ahead are squelched by the fears we create. 

Refusing to acknowledge our fears, or doing something about them will result in a self-perpetuating cycle of indecision and doubt.

Moving through doubt- 

  1. Identify what you really want
  2. Write down the fears that led to conflict with what you want
  3. Write down the reasons why you think what you want is so important 
  4. Consider whether the fear is worth the time you’re putting it it
  5. Identify what evidence you have for the fear 

The fear you have means something, and explains more about your perceived weaknesses, or about unmet needs

Preventing What Matters from Drifting Away

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It is very easy to get caught up in activities that gradually erode and pull you away from what really matters. The more successful and effective you are, the higher the risk of being pulled away from what really defines importance for you.

Over the years, there is a lot of literature that talks about defining what matters in your life. If you can move activities and intentions toward what matters, then results you desire should follow. The act of defining what matters is not as easy as it sounds. The busier you are, the more important roles you play in others’ lives, and the more skilled you are, the higher likelihood you will actually be pulled from what matters. Defining what matters becomes blurry because of the massive demands you face because of success and talent.

How do you keep what matters from drifting away?

1. Being involved in more, is going to lead to more drift. Depending on the important roles you provide, you might be in too may roles.

2. Define what roles, experiences, and priorities that are most important. Instead of defining this along the generic roles of “family”, “my work”, “my children”, get more specific. Think intuitively about your experiences through the week. What brought joy, what didn’t? What are you really wanting to do more of, that isn’t happening. This is where you start your working definitions.

3. Look at what provides value. What is not providing much value? How is your resources spent, is there some things that are cutting away your priorities, and interests?

4. Graph it. Define where you are spending your time, and do an activity analysis for a month. Record your moods, at different points. An easy way would be to use your calendar. Place notes about your experience after each activity is done. This “mini-journal” will help you define what is important, and where you are drifting away.

Take your time with the process. Remember you didn’t get this way overnight. Understanding drift from what matters may take some time.

The Importance of Simple Things

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Photo by the author –

An ever present reality is that individuals are engaged in the act of being busy, or survival. “Survival” does not necessarily mean living, but rather existing.

A complex issue in today’s society is how immersed we are in doing, being, running, and reacting. How much do we miss around us? Is the mere act of being important, busy, and immersed in the activity around us, dulling our sense of what is important?

Simple Things
Simple things are around us, and we take them for granted. They invite us to engage, but our addiction to be important, depended upon, provided attention, or surviving dulls our sensitivity to the simple things that can bring an appreciation for our lives.

Like the child playing in the sand…how much do we allow ourselves to play in the sand?

Do We:
1. Look at the clouds?
2. Look at nature around us?
3. Identify what is important to us, as opposed to multiple “stake holders” who don’t recognize our efforts?
4. Read what is important to us? Pursue our dreams?

Or do we simply live, and engage other people’s dreams? When we become dulled to the simple things that are meaningful in life, we are just surviving. On the surface, we are looking, feeling, and being important, but inside we may be just existing.

ACTION ITEM: WHAT ARE WE ALLOWING TO GO BY US? WHY ARE WE JUST SURVIVING, WHEN WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE?

Building Leverage against Adversity

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Building leverage in periods of adversity is about stepping up to take action rather than reaction.

Reaction to events empowers weakness and victim mentality.

Victim like thinking hampers the ability to develop resiliency.

When there is no resiliency, the tipping point to build leverage passes. There are several areas that can aide in building the leverage needed for adversity:

1. Influence – those with positive influence, have the right balance between sensitivity and power.

2. Focus on the right things – having the right orientation toward honorable things builds internal credibility and confidence. Those that feed on negativity are always operating from the defensive.

3. Exercise persistence and personal initiative – those that exert their energy by taking ownership are in the position to gain leverage. Victim thinking begets a defensive position with adversity, where little leverage is available.

4. Center personal activity – on what the main thing is. Keeping the main thing (or most important) out front is the key to building leverage. Distracting issues, drama, and petty issues only delay and liquidate momentum and leverage.

5. Leverage occurs when we keep meeting and working through challenges. Each time adversity is met by using our talents, skills, and knowledge, we build resiliency. We meet more challenges, which gradually develops leverage.

Leverage is not a given. It cannot bestowed, and it is not easy to attain. Without a deliberate amount of fortitude, and the right approach or mindset, we may find ourselves at a disadvantage.

Resiliency Skills for Leaders – Part 1

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There has been much written about personal renewal. These include a variety of personal habits, health oriented skills, and stress reduction techniques. Leadership and management are very difficult, and the reserve needed from day to day is significant. Personal renewal is certainly necessary, but it is not sufficient when we consider organizational constraints and barriers.

BARRIERS
1. Multiple time sensitive demands
2. Phone calls
3. Commitments
4. Personnel or Customer problems

The need to be creative, present for others, and ready to fight “fires” within the organization can be enormous. The leader can find themselves operating from survival mode, or avoidance mode. Neither option is a preferable method and can lead to organizational drift.

RESILIENCY SKILLS
Invest consistently
Investing in others within the workplace is good for you and your employees. There is no replacement for compassion, empathy, concern and providing recognition to others for the good that is happening in the organization. Connecting, engaging, supporting, and learning from others and recognizing others, can be uplifting. The more you uplift, the more you can be lifted.

Take time to reflect
From what you’ve learned and connected with, comes the need to find a quiet place to reflect. The banter of noise, multiple disruptions, and interference does little to integrate what you are now. In order to know where you want to be, you have to reflect on where you are.

Avoid being mired in petty issues
Keeping the big picture in front of you despite the noise and interference of competing problems is a key skill to maintaining focus. Putting small issues aside, getting closure on potential distractions is a key skill and one that bypasses issues, rather than letting them control the path that is being set.

Write about what you’ve learned
Leaders that write, and reflect – and “crunch” ideas have the potential toward resiliency and personal growth. They not only reflect, but put their goals in clearer perspective. If you integrate your insights at the end of the day, your next day will be more informed.

Maintain a routine
Changes are a given, but maintaining a consistent routine is critical to dealing with the ebb and flow of a given day. Maintaining a structure that is flexible, yet adds some predictability can impact how you approach new issues that seek to derail your day.

Resiliency is a process – it requires constant development. It requires meeting problems, using skill reserves you develop, and getting closure on residual issues.

The Anatomy of a Choice

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Stephen Covey once said there were three constants in life: Change, Principles, and Choice. The underlying idea of his works was to help others match the right kinds of choices, to their personal vision, mission or governing value network. In doing that we could derive effectiveness in the variety of roles in our lives.

Yet for most of us, choice is the hardest variable. In today’s highly information driven society with its infinite number of personal choices we could make, choices are hard. Even if we have carefully crafted our personal mission, values and roles in our lives, choices are hard, especially when there are competing ones. Beyond this, is how there are so many issues that act on us. Even important roles can collide, and choices can be difficult.

Beyond these challenges is the fact that we can make a choice, but to follow through and see the choice through takes fortitude. The hardest part of a choice may not be the competing nature of paths we can take, but the bridge that needs crossed to implement the choice.

How many people have you met that make good intentional commitments or indicate verbally their intentions toward a choice, but fall short doing the choice? Probably everyone, including ourselves. It is very popular to make the choice, and it feels good because of the perceived accomplishment. The accomplishment of a choice is however the most important and critical step in any choice. Everyone can have good intentions when it is needed (see my article on “Organizational Codependency” elsewhere on this site). Making the choice stick is completely a different animal.

The Anatomy of a Choice

    When you’re planning to make a choice, consider the following elements:

    1. How realistically can I implement the choice?
    2. How many new steps will my choice make for me?
    3. The choice feels good, but doing the choice is like moving against a strong wind.
    4. How much work is involved in this choice?
    5. Who can help me get there, once I have made the choice.

    Of course the above sounds a lot like goals. A preferred definition of choice might be: What behaviors do I need to do? Choice are thoughts, but the behavior portion transitions the choice into action. Using the word goals is about as vague as choice. Without the operationalized behavioral steps and actions, movement will not occur. The anatomy of a choice is often a road to travel itself. It is also a lifelong pursuit of becoming and direction finding in your life.