There are situations in life when we just don’t know what to do next and how to do it: whatever we try, we don't move forward, we stay in the same situation. We are stuck in a relationship, stuck in a job, stuck financially. We struggle here, we look for answers, we try to understand, reflect, see different perspectives and still, nothing happens. If you find yourself is such situation the following ideas can help you take the first step out.
Before getting to concrete tools, there are some things that, in my opinion, should be acknowledged:
1. BEING STUCK IS A REACTION TO FEAR
Fear for the change that will come when we start to move. But fear is not the problem, because for some, fear is total irrelevant. It is our reaction at fear that hold us back. While for some people fear means excitement, action, for others it means freezing, being stuck.
2. BEING STUCK IS RELATED TO IMPORTANT DECISIONS AND TO THE OUTCOMES WE FORESEE
Think about it: it feels easier to take the decision and get married when you expect a happy time ahead of you, but it is much difficult to take the decision to get through a divorce when you expect negative reactions. Here is a challenging question for you: with what accuracy can you predict your future?
3. THERE IS NO GOOD OR BAD DECISION, THERE IS YOUR INTERPRETATION OF IT
We can imagine possible outcomes, but we will never know FOR SURE what the future will bring us. Looking back to your life history, from the fears you had, how many become reality indeed?
4. YOU ARE NOT STUCK IN ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE
How are you dealing with NOT being stuck in other areas (relationships, work, health…)? What is helpful to get those areas moving?
My hypothesis is that if we can see change more as a challenge instead of a burden, we can overcome our fear more easily and go for action. Something that helps is redefining change as experiment. But how to do it?
THE REALITY CHECK
First check if the situation you are stuck in is something that is under your control or not? If it is not, there is not much you can do. Acknowledge the situation, accept it and go on. If the situation is under your control, start looking for possible next steps. For example, if your company goes for cost reductions and as result you are being fired, there is not much you can control, as opposed to you feel your job is not fulfilling you professionally and you want a change, but you don’t know how to proceed.
WORK ON YOUR EMOTIONAL SELF-MANAGEMENT
Often, we predict having negative emotions as result of experiencing change and that is why it's good to have a healthy way of managing emotions. Both negative and positive emotions are part of our lives, but it is the duration and intensity that scares us. Knowing how to deal with it will help better navigate through stormy times. And the surprise is: the more you practice, the better you can handle your emotional status in the future as well.
INVEST TIME IN PREPARING YOURSELF FOR HOW TO DELIVER CHANGE TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO WILL BE AFFECTED
Whether you are the head of a department or the head of your family, delivering information and preparing others for the change can be your responsibility. Make sure you can foresee possible questions from their side and prepare answers. When talking to kids, knowing how to help them deal with their emotions is important and helpful. And remember: often anxiety is built on uncertainty and unclarity so be as clear as you can.
BE PROCESS FOCUSED AND DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY THE OUTCOMES
If you have your mind engaged in the process of what is happening, it's less likely to be distracted by judgement about the outcomes that can limit your judgement. Instead, if you break the big task in smaller ones and focus on each one of them, it is likely that you’ll move forward. Stay open for new outcomes.
USE YOUR CREATIVITY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS
When we unlock our creative brain, we come with a lot more potential. We are more creative when we are in a relaxed mood, so offer yourself time and space for listing your options. Do not stop at the first ideascoming to your mind, as usually the best solutions don't come first. First are coming the solutions you are most familiar with.
WRITE DOWN THE ACTIONS YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD DO
So move out of being stuck and start with the smallest change possible. This could mean: communicating with someone about your situation, asking for professional advice, look for a peer to help you stay on the track and to hold you accountable for your actions.
USE THE SELF-EFFICACY TOOL
Remember the times when you had to go through difficult times and reflect on how did you do it back then. Which resources did I use? How were the previous experiences contributing to my personal growth?
Often it is not as easy as it looks like. You know consciously what the solution is, but you encounter hindering forces that keeps you from taking action. Or, you take action, but you are not doing consistent steps ahead. These could be conscious or unconscious forces and until you address them, the real, long lasting change, will not occur. In such situations coaching or psychotherapy can offer professional guidance to overcome these forces. More than that, with help from a specialist you can not only go out of the current situation, but you can create your own tool kit for dealing with change.
Change is part of life, learn to construct windmills instead of walls when you encounter it!
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