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How Do You Get Unstuck?

That may be the question I get asked most often. I guess we’re living in a world of stuck-ness.

If you’re stuck, you’re not alone. Here are three actions you can take to help you get unstuck and start moving forward, fast.

1. Clarify What’s Sticking

Break it down. Is the work no longer interesting? Or are the people you’re working with difficult or hard to communicate with? Is what you value no longer valued by the organization? Just like a mechanic breaks down the parts of the car to see what’s not running well, you need to break down your work experiences into individual pieces so you can repair the right thing!

One way to do this is to ask yourself, “If I had a magic wand, what would I change to feel differently about my work?” Take a piece of paper and write these things down. The magic wand test can crystalize what you’d like to change–and what’s not broken. Also, many times I find when using the magic wand, people think of things that are actually not magic–things they can really do today.

2. Challenge Your Own Assumptions

Often in my coaching work, I hear people saying things like, “The only way I’d get a promotion is if my boss would retire,” or “We’ve cut back so much that I’ll now never get to launch the new project that was promised last year.” But when I ask them “how do you know?” they often don’t have any facts behind their beliefs, and realize they’re making many assumptions that are getting in their way and keeping them stuck.

  • To check and see if your assumptions are getting in your way,  write down all of your beliefs relating to your work and career growth. For example, jot down things like “We don’t give promotions in July” or “We’re not hiring in ABC department”  or “Bob won’t approve a work-at-home plan.”
  • Then, go through each assumption and answer the question: “How do I know this for a fact?” (Psst–the answer “I just KNOW” isn’t a fact.)
  • If it’s not a fact, it’s an assumption until proven otherwise. For each assumption, ask: “What do I need to ask or find out to see if this is true?”

3. Start a Bigger Conversation

One way we get stuck is that we stop sharing our thoughts, ideas, and questions with others. We work heads-down when in reality, getting stuck is time to lift your head up and start having bigger conversations.

By “bigger” conversation, I mean deeper and broader, asking more challenging questions than we typically do in a day-to-day scenario. You might start with your boss or other leader in your organization, asking things like:

  • “What’s the long-term vision for [our company, our department, our jobs]?” “How do you see my contributions fitting into that vision?”
  • “What does success need to look like for us today?”
  • “I’d like to be known for contributing more of X and less of Y. In your view, what would it take for us to make that transition?”
  • “I’d like to grow into X position. In your opinion, what would have to happen for that change to take place in the next six months?”

These conversations can give you more data and possibilities to pursue. By being bold and asking a bigger question, it shows others you are thinking about the broader business and you can take it from there to propose ways you can fit into that vision–and get yourself unstuck!

If it’s time to get unstuck at work, why not work with a professional to help you get there? I work with leaders and professionals every day who care deeply about helping their teams succeed. A chat with me is fast, free & completely confidential.

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