How to get unstuck and find your real groove

“The chains that break you, are the chains that make you. And the chains that make you, are the chains you break.” ― Anthony Liccione

Well now, here’s a big surprise.

Another day has come and gone. And despite your vows to make measurable progress, you did nothing. Again.

Sure, you thought about it a bit.

Maybe you even showed up for a while, dancing around the edges to look good. Or to ease off the self-blame and guilt for being a such a slacker.

But nothing concrete happened. Today was pretty much the same as yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that.

You’d like things to be different.

You’ve started, stopped, restarted, got bored, movie binged, read something inspirational, made tea, started again, organized the files, found a great recipe, thought about starting again…

But the results are pitiful, and each day you feel more discouraged, helpless, and lethargic. And it’s so hard to muster any real enthusiasm, you feel like a fraud.

You’re stuck.

Stuck waiting for change to come and happen to you, to make all the bad feelings go away.

Of course, that’s not how it happens. Change is an inside job, not a favor bestowed by pixies.

To be honest, stepping out of your comfort zone is scary thought. We like to believe that change is painful and involves loss.

But that’s a smoke screen. You can handle short period of discomfort and the only actual loss are those ideas that keep you stuck.

So, if you’re ready to ditch the pain and shame that hold you back, here are the steps to take on how to get unstuck.

Eliminate resistance where it starts

“If you are paralyzed with fear it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.” ― Steven Pressfield

Without realizing it, most of us operate in a state of internal conflict.

This is the result of desiring two or more incompatible outcomes at the same time.

We become fearful that if we fulfill one goal, we’ll lose out on the other. And pulled in different directions, we freeze and do nothing. We get stuck.

Or we opt for the easy, short-term choice because it delivers a quick fix of satisfaction.

For instance, you have a long-term fitness goal that involves the new discipline of weight loss.

But you also have the need to feel safe and secure.

When triggered by anxiety (dieting), the battle begins. You want the weight loss, but to feel safe, you want to control the anxiety.

So you choose what’s easy. Something you know to quickly deliver feelings of safety. Like chocolate chip cookies.

However, when you indulge in the cookies, it creates feelings of confusion, embarrassment, frustration, and guilt — plus a ton of blame for being spineless and weak.

Now you’re really stuck and getting deeper.

To get unstuck, the solution to conflict is to accept that you can’t have everything.

  • Make a decision. Which is more important, your fitness goal or your addiction to control?
  • Delay the instant gratification of short-term goals and accept that it’s challenging.
  • Work through discomfort by reframing the lesser goal. Learn to see that the feelings of safety and security you desire are best achieved through health and fitness.
  • Finally, plan how to deal with those cravings or shaky feelings. Implementation statements — if/then plans — are a good way to go. Such as, “If I’m craving carbs after dinner, then I’ll put on my walking shoes and go for a 20-minute power walk”.

You can’t have everything at once. But in this way, you get unstuck and can have what you really want.

Make the power choice

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Often, feeling stuck is a surface state. It hides hidden, frightening emotions such as unworthiness, needing permission, fear of failure, and so on.

Of course, these are excuses and point to a core problem — the need for external validation.

The solution is to stop worrying what others might think and build your skill for internal validation.

You don’t need anyone’s permission. And to make any progress, you must accept that you, and you alone, are responsible for the results you get.

That means no more excuses, admitting what you want, and stepping out of fear. It also requires letting go of ideas like blame, entitlement, and victimization.

To make the shift to internal validation and get unstuck, make the choice for responsibility then get out of your own way.

  • Stop ruminating on your problems and start acting to help others.
  • Write yourself permission slips and read them often. Be specific about what you want and what you’re allowing.
  • Instead of pushing dense emotions away, look for the root cause. Sit with what they’re telling you and listen for the lessons they contain. Hint: Everything is for your benefit.
  • Get comfortable with making mistakes. Don’t let inexperience or any perceived lack hold you back or start the shame spiral.
  • Watch for any negative inner chatter. Replace it with the facts — that you’re learning, you’ll get better with practice, and it won’t always feel so uncomfortable.
  • Stop filtering the world with complaints or ideas of loss, sacrifice, and scarcity. Start being honest about how amazing your life is and will be.

There’s only one person qualified to live your life and that’s you. Heed the call of your own greatness.

Harness the jet fuel of push and pull forces

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ― Rumi

Everything we do, every action we take (or fail to take), is to achieve an outcome of some kind.

We’re always motivated. It may not be obvious or intentional, but there’s always some end-state we’re trying to achieve.

How we achieve the outcome depends in large part on the internal and external factors that push and pull on us.

Push motivation can get us to the end we desire, but it’s not inspired action. And it typically involves avoiding pain, real or anticipated. But push motivation is short-lived and hard to sustain. Once the threat of pain has passed, motivation fades quickly.

Pull motivation draws us in. It isn’t about avoiding pain it’s about achieving a desired end.

Pull motivation is effective because it’s attractive, inspirational, and enticing. It draws us closer to something we desire. And it’s more useful in the long run because it’s easier to maintain.

But you can use both types of motivation to get unstuck and drive you to the future of your dreams.

  • For pull motivation, create an inspiring vision to work towards. Write out your goal and list all the benefits it will bring. Make it as vivid as possible, imagine it daily, and feel yourself drawn to the results you want.
  • For push motivation, list all the concerns and painful events you want to avoid. Be equally vivid and honest in your descriptions. Feel the discomfort and make it real so that it pushes you to initiate change.

To create momentum you need to get unstuck and stay that way. Continue to revise and update both lists to keep your motivation alive.

Hone your focus with strategic ignorance

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” ― Daniel J. Boorstin

Other common causes of stuckness are information overload and the fear of missing out (FOMO).

The digital age is great for quickly accessing information. But it’s a blessing with a dark side.

Easy access to email, news, podcasts, social media, and texting quickly introduces distractions, interruptions, and background noise that we can do without.

Most of the online information we consume is unimportant, immaterial, and completely unrelated to our goals. We focus on the wrong things.

And a steady diet of too much information typically leads to decision fatigue. It creates a negative spiral of bad decisions and frustration.

To get unstuck and make headway, be more discerning in what you consume. Strive to insulate yourself from all the shiny objects that pull at your attention.

You don’t need to be completely ignorant of the world around you.

But you want to narrow your focus to what’s important.

To do this, create rules about when and what you can access and set time limits.

  • Limit reading news stories to only one or two trusted sources. Set a specific time for reading the news and limit your reading time to 10 minutes. Set a timer if needed.
  • Restrict checking emails, social media intake, phone calls, texts, TV exposure, and other distractions to once or twice daily. Do this at specific times, and for a specific duration.

To make better decisions and prevent information overload and FOMO, stick to a low-info diet.

Selective focus isn’t about a narrow mindset or becoming a recluse. It’s about knowing yourself better and setting effective boundaries to ensure your happiness, success, and long term well-being.

Measure and track for growth and confidence

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. “ ― Frank Zappa

To really keep momentum alive and get unstuck, track and measure your progress.

Recent research finds that monitoring your goal progress positively impacts goal achievement itself.

Tracking involves the regular notation of your actions and the results they produce. But don’t just think about it. Writing your notes with pen and paper, or on a device, leads to greater goal achievement.

This is an easy method to get unstuck because it show which of your actions are “on track” and those that need modification.

  • Take five to 10 minutes in the evening to write out the day’s wins and what areas need improvement. A few short paragraphs or bullet points are fine. Just enough to capture the essence.
  • Spend 10 minutes at the end of the week to review your notes. Look for patterns or themes of success and areas of resistance.
  • Use this to chart next week’s plan. Stress the habits and processes that are beneficial and work to eliminate conflicting ones.
  • Do the same at month end and apply it to your following months work plan.
  • For greater confidence and clarity, take time to note and celebrate your progress. And for best results, be sure to measure it from where you started — don’t compare to where you’re going.

Measuring and tracking is inspiring and builds confidence.

It gives accurate feedback on how much you’ve already achieved. And it keeps your progress in the forefront which helps to eliminate overwhelm.

The fast track to your future

“Your future is not tomorrow. The future is what you are creating today.” ― Anthon St. Maarten

We all get stuck at some point.

But it’s not a mark of inadequacy and you don’t have to stay mired in discouragement and frustration.

Instead, you can fast track your future by learning to harness the forces that create distractions and resistance and redirect them for your benefit.

You can take responsibility for your own path, make powerful decisions, and develop the potent routines that lead directly to your goal.

Don’t let the thought of facing uncomfortable emotions stop you. They’re your gateway to confidence, inner strength, and inspiration.

Prioritize what’s truly important then take the steps to bring it to fruition.

So, start now and get unstuck.

Lead by example and demonstrate your mastery over imaginary fears. Because now, more than ever, we need the light of amazing and inspiring people like yourself.

Make those bold choices and track your progress; you’ll be encouraged and surprised by what you’ve already achieved!

Originally published at https://smarthabitsremarkableresults.com on February 16, 2021.

A life and sobriety coach I assist clients to eliminate negative patterns, crystalize priorities, and attain goals. https://www.smarthabitsremarkableresults.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store