Updated: Feb 5, 2021
Just over three years ago now, I was undeniably, certifiably, painfully, stuck.
I was Winnie-the-Pooh-Stuck.
On the one hand, my job was making me completely miserable.
On the other hand, I had such an incredible sense of purpose around what I wanted to accomplish in this job, that I couldn't imagine leaving.
On the one hand, it was clear that my boss and I had very different values.
On the other hand, I loved the people around me and really believed we had the opportunity to create something incredible.
On the one hand, my boss was noticeably unhappy and was probably going to fire me.
On the other hand, I had no vision of what I would do if I wasn't doing this.
I was undeniably, certifiably, painfully, stuck. How on earth could I stay? How on earth could I go?
Maybe you've been there. Maybe you are there. Stuck becomes a nagging feeling at the back of my brain, slowly gaining weight the long it sits there. Not moving forward on something that is important to me, or something that needs attention, is an undermining experience. It eats away at my productivity, and even more damaging...at my very sense of self.
I hate the feeling of not moving forward. But what is a Pooh to do??
In my earlier blog, I wrote about how there are really four kinds of Stuck. One of the oversights that keeps us Stuck longer than necessary, is the assumption that Stuck...is stuck. The truth is, not all stucks are created equal. Stuck comes in four different varieties:
Smart-stuck: lacking the knowledge or information we need to move forward
Bored-stuck: lacking the interest to move forward (we've been working the problem for so long)
Motivation-stuck: lacking a compelling reason to move forward
Mindset-stuck: lacking the belief in our ability to move forward
I've come to think of these four types of stuck like the layers of an ocean. Things start out warm, bright and comfortable, but as we move deeper through them, things have a way of getting murky and cool...and eventually dark and cold. Each layer is deeper than the one above, but where exactly one layer stops and the next layer starts is difficult to tell. Even though the experience of stuck might be the same every time, the cause of our stuck changes. If we don't take the time to understand what's at the root of our stuck-state, it's a lot harder to get back in stride.
Knowing what layer we are swimming in, is what gives us direction. Taking the time to reflect on what kind of stuck we are actually experiencing, is the beginning of moving forward.
What's got you stuck right now?
What's really keeping you from moving forward?
Is it a lack of knowledge or information (smart-stuck)? Is it a lack of interest (bored-stuck)? Are you missing a compelling reason to do the hard thing (motivation-stuck)? Or is the issue that you know what you want, but you lack the confidence to pursue it (mindset-stuck)?
I needed to make a decision. Showing up at work each day wondering if this is where I should be was not serving anyone well. I needed to either commit....or quit. I knew what I wanted, I was just quite afraid to go after what I wanted. I was Mindset-Stuck. What I really wanted, was to stay, and accomplish great things. I waivered in the twilight zone for months before I finally figures this out though. My own heart's desire was obscured by fear, by the world's expectations of me, by my past experiences. What did it take for me to figure it out?
Most importantly though, a conversation.
I was talking with a mastermind group about committing to making change, and someone blurted out:
"What's the worst that can happen? You get fired?"
...and in that moment I realized...that wasn't actually my worst case scenario. I had been fearing it as though it was. In actual fact, worse than getting fired would be to stay and accomplish nothing significant. "She played it safe" are not the words I intend to live by.
So, I committed. I stayed, because I refuse to let my life to be the sum total of a series of decisions made out of fear. I didn't make a move, but I did get back in stride. I had a direction, a plan and a goal again.
I also learned a very important lesson about being stuck. In these times of Winnie-the-Pooh-Stuck, we have the unique opportunity to learn about ourselves - what we believe, what we fear, what we truly desire.
There is an upside to stuck.
So. What's got you stuck right now? What's really keeping you from moving forward?
Is it a lack of knowledge or information (smart-stuck)? Is it a lack of interest (bored-stuck)? Are you missing a compelling enough reason to do the hard thing (motivation-stuck)? Or is the issue that you know what you want, but you lack the confidence to pursue it (mindset-stuck)?
Most importantly, what is your stuck-state teaching you about yourself?