10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck
You know what it feels like to feel stuck, right? We have all been there. Perhaps you feel stuck right now. When that happens, it can feel paralyzing to keep moving forward toward your goals.
Maybe you’re feeling a little stuck working on a project or getting ahead in your business. Your initial excitement has worn off, and you’re now feeling burnout, confused, or overwhelmed by how to keep progressing forward.
Maybe you’re really stuck. You feel trapped in a job you hate, a relationship that isn’t working, an overwhelming amount of debt, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you imagined.
Sometimes we just want to throw in the towel and give up, but don’t give up just yet.
Whether you feel just a little stuck or like you’re stuck in dry concrete, trying to make a small or big decision or wondering what you’re doing with your life, these 10 strategies can help you keep moving forward.
1. Reconnect to Your Why
Feeling stuck is often because you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture and what’s important. You’ve lost your why.
Why did you start this in the first place? What reasons, values, or passions drove you to make this change in your life? What picture do you have for yourself, your business, and your life?
By reminding yourself of your original intention and purpose, it gives you the intrinsic motivation to get back on track and move ahead.
Connecting to your deeper ‘why’ will be the fuel that keeps you going, even through tough times and roadblocks.
Whatever you’re stuck on right now, grab a journal and ask yourself: Why is this important to me? Why did I start this in the first place? What am I trying to achieve here, and why is that important to me?
When you step back from your life, career, and challenges and look from a bit of a distance, you see things from a different perspective.
2. Take a Step Back
Often, we try to get unstuck by pushing forward with sheer force or just trying harder. But as Einstein said,
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Access a different level of thinking by assessing your current situation from a new viewpoint. Whenever I’m working with clients who feel stuck, this is the first thing I ask them to do.
I have them think about where they are, what got them here, and what they really want.
Imagine you are lost in the woods. You could keep moving forward, looking for your way out. You could panic and go in circles. You could head back the way you came.
Imagine instead that you could stop, take a deep breath, and zoom out from your situation. Imagine you could fly above it all as if you were in a helicopter and look down at yourself among the trees.
What could you see or notice differently from this perspective – a different route, people there to support you, the way out is closer than you thought?
Another way to zoom out is to look at your situation as a neutral observer. Imagine you’re a fly on the wall watching your life. What insights or advice would you give yourself?
3. Get Specific
It’s hard to move forward until you fully understand why you are stuck. You have to get specific and identify what’s really going on. You must name it to tame it.
Theodore Rooselvelt once said,
“A well-defined problem presents its own solution.”
For example, there are big differences between, “I feel stuck” and “I feel stuck because I’m overwhelmed with everything” or “I feel stuck because I don’t have enough support” Once you name it, you are more likely to be able to tame it and keep moving forward.
One of the most important questions I ask clients is, “What’s getting in the way?” When they answer, the next question is always, “What else?” We continue along this route until we feel we’ve gotten to the real, underlying issue(s).
Seek to uncover the underlying issues that are getting in your way and stopping you from progressing. You can do this by journaling, talking to someone who knows you well, or simply taking the time to ask yourself these questions.
Once you name it, perhaps the solution will then present and tame itself.
4. Brainstorm Your Options
We often feel stuck because we don’t see any way out from our current situation — we feel we don’t have what it takes to move ahead in life.
By brainstorming ideas and possibilities, you expand your mind and open your thinking to finding a new solution. When you can see potential options, you won’t feel so trapped anymore.
This is about allowing your creative mind to expand and begin to see potential possibilities.
If you hate your career, what new potential careers are on your mind? List them all out — even the ones that seem unrealistic or silly.
If you’re unhappy in your relationship, what can you do? There are likely a lot more options than you’ve considered. What are they?
Make a list of options for your current situation – as crazy or “out there” as they might be.
When you think you’ve thought of everything, ask yourself, “What other options are there?” This allows you to dig deeper and see ideas you might not have otherwise explored.
Then, and only then, can you start to identify the way forward.
5. Take a Break
Full disclosure, this is my favorite step, because it is the most powerful one. I learned about this important strategy from many of my spiritual teachers and once I implemented it on a consistent basis it changed my life.
Working 60 to 80 hour weeks is unsustainable and unhealthy, and that is exactly what I did for way too long. I never valued taking time off or taking breaks, because I thought it meant being weak or lazy.
We all need breaks, a lot more than we allow ourselves to have. Taking breaks allows us to shift focus to give our brains a chance for quiet; it takes the pressure off so we can come back with a fresh mind and new perspective.
When we take a brain break, it refreshes our thinking and helps us discover another solution to a problem or see a situation through a different lens. A break actually helps to incubate and process new information.
A great break is to do something physical that gets you in flow. Take a walk around your block, go for a run, walk barefoot on grass or at the beach. Another popular break is meditation — which has so many proven benefits I can’t even begin to name them all.
What kind of breaks can you give yourself? Which would be most helpful?
6. Let Go of What’s Not Working
Get clear on what is not working. Stop doing the things that don’t produce favorable results. This could be getting rid of emotional baggage, limiting beliefs, self sabotaging habits, or an old story.
This is where my expertise can be very helpful to you.
Take my client Jennifer for example. She was having trouble taking breaks and often would work straight through weekends, missing out on family time and fun gatherings. She experienced anxiety, burnout, and daily migraine headaches. Through our work together, we uncovered that Jennifer had an interesting belief: She felt guilty for taking time off and thought that she would lose everything if she didn’t constantly tend to her business. She thought that having a career requires sacrificing your life and happiness.
This meant she was either going to be a workaholic or broke. In order to move forward in her successful business, she needed to eliminate lots of limiting beliefs and believe that she is not only entitled to take breaks but that taking breaks will make her even more successful.
What’s holding you back — an old habit, limiting belief, or story you are telling yourself? How can you reframe your thinking in order to change the direction you are headed?
7. Know What You Need to Get Unstuck
What is currently missing from moving forward and what specifically do you need right now?
Here are some common needs:
A step-by-step plan, to understand why something is important, deadlines, encouragement and support, to think things through, connecting to a deeper meaning, freedom, and flexibility, and certainty.
Do you relate to any of these?
What do you need to get unstuck? Think about what will help you be your best self and work through your problems. Maybe it’s a step-by-step plan, deadlines, a support system, or connection to a deeper meaning.
8. Shift Your State
Instead of placing all your focus and energy on the problem, shift your focus and energy to another part of life. Go do something that brings you joy; spend time with someone you love.
Do anything to shift your state and mood. This will switch your downward cycle of doom and gloom into an upward cycle of hope and possibility.
A great way to shift your state away from negative emotions is to practice gratitude. So, you hate your job. Practice gratitude for other areas of your life. Does it support your family or allow you to work remotely?
Keep moving forward by practicing gratitude
I’m not saying you should stay in a job you hate; I’m just recommending that you get perspective. A state shift brings energy, hope, and positivity into your mindset…keys to getting out of that dreaded stuck cycle.
What always puts you in a good mood? What brings you joy, happiness or fulfillment? Do it, and make sure to practice gratitude. Try this: each morning for the next week, write down three things you are grateful for.
9. Take Action
Getting into action is critical to getting unstuck. There’s no substitute for momentum. Action enables further action, while inactivity creates inertia, self-doubt, and confusion.
Successful people know this, which is why they continuously push out of their comfort zone.
I love this quote from Simon Sinek:
“If we think of everything we have to do, we feel overwhelmed. If we do the one thing we need to do, we make progress.”
Know that a path will start leading us down new paths, but you have to start walking first. God can’t steer a parked car, right?
What’s the next step you can take to move forward? Where is there a quick win?
When you think about your first (or next) step, keep it small and achievable to get the momentum going.
10. Reach out for Help
We can all use a little help when we’re stuck. This might be talking to a good friend who knows and understands you or reaching out to get advice from someone who’s been in a similar situation to yours.
I am here to help. I will ask powerful questions to help you see things from a different angle. Together we can uncover hidden roadblocks and eliminate blind spots you may not be aware of right now.
When you’re on your own, it can feel hopeless, overwhelming, and just plain impossible. But, a little pull from someone can quickly change your trajectory.
While this may seem like one of the easiest strategies, it is actually one of the hardest to do. Why? Even though we are biologically wired to help each other, many of us find it challenging to reach out.
This is why:
Asking for help exposes us to numerous possible social threats, which is why it’s so uncomfortable. It can feel like an admission of weakness, which lowers our status, and can be an invitation for scorn. It creates uncertainty, and invites the possibility of rejection.
Could you benefit from asking for help in this situation? Who can you reach out to ask for help right now? What would be the benefit and reward by asking for help?
Not ready to reach out to someone just yet? Maybe you can try asking the universe. Some call this prayer, others spiritual guidance, others faith. Whatever you call it, reach out.
I love the line from Max Ehrmann’s’ Desiderata:
“…whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Trust the unfolding, and know that sometimes it may take a little longer than you’d like.
There’s usually a good reason, even if you can’t see it. Maybe it’s not time to move forward or make changes just yet. Maybe you don’t have all the information you need, and when you do, you’ll quickly make progress. Maybe you’re actually stuck where you need to be right now.
Which of these strategies feel like they will work best for you and your current stuck situation? Let me know.
You don’t have to use all of them; it just takes one to help you keep moving forward.
Remember, any movement, momentum or shift will help get you unstuck and move forward with your life. Besides, it’s never too late to start things over!