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The 5-Minute Remedy to Feeling Stuck

Nov 01, 2021

Sarah makes gorgeous ceramics and is trying to shift away from in-person events and towards more online sales. We spoke the other day, exploring her goals and vision. At one point I asked Sarah: what is it that you really want in your business? She paused for a few moments and then said this:

“I want to grow my sales and I want to go to fewer craft markets. But I’m not sure how to grow aside from craft markets. I know I need a new website and to be more consistent on Instagram but I’m really intimidated by all the logistics of making that happen. And I’m just scared that it won’t pan out if I do. I feel really stuck and overwhelmed.”

We’ve all been where Sarah is: Stuck. Confused. Scared. It’s not comfortable to be in that place and it’s hard to find a way forward. When this happens to me, my wise friend and coach Melissa often asks me: 

“Is it that you don’t know what to do, you don’t know how to do it, or that you’re scared to do it?”

I know it sounds like Sarah doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how to do it, AND is scared to do it. But if you think about it, all three of these things can’t be true at the same time. If she doesn’t know what to do, she can't know how to do it, yet. And how meaningful is her fear if she hasn’t yet committed to a path or resolved the pending questions about that path?

We get stuck when we don’t accept and own the reality of where we’re struggling. And so we bounce between our concerns, never resolving any of them, and allowing a combination of fear, anxiety, and lack of clarity to create paralysis.

 

When you feel stuck, try asking yourself two questions: 

  1. What do you want? 
  2. Is your obstacle to making that real that you don’t know what to do, you don’t know how to do it, or that you’re scared to do it?

 

I know these seem like challenging questions. But I have found that if I ask myself these questions when I am centered and quiet, I almost always know which of the three options is true for me. And here’s the thing -- once you do know which of them is true, you can easily get unstuck. 

  • If you don’t know what to do… then your job is to experiment, explore, envision, and listen your way to clarity. When you don’t know what to do, your focus should be on listening to your intuition, your business, your sales, analytics, and customers. It’s about visioning and imagining your future and then seeing what’s needed to go from where you are to that new place. You might need to experiment or explore in order to get more ideas on how to proceed.

    Not knowing what to do might sound like “I want to raise my income but I’m not sure what I could do to make that happen.”

  • If you don’t know how to do it… then your job is to research and learn. When you do know what to do but have knowledge gaps that could keep you from following through, your next steps are fairly straightforward. It’s time to access research, learning, courses, guidance, or peers who have been there before.

    Not knowing how to do it might sound like “I know that cultivating online sales will help me increase my income -- and to do that I need a better website -- but I’m not sure how to pick a website platform or the most impactful changes to make to what I have.”

  • If you’re scared to do it… then your job is to reflect and reframe until you find a way forward. It’s likely you need to feel the fear and do it anyway (after all, we’ve established that you know what to do to move forward AND you know how to do it). Or, you may need to resolve some last practical issues before you feel comfortable. When you’re scared, the way forward is often about considering the worst possible outcome of proceeding with your plans,  the worst possible outcome of changing nothing, and whether you can reach your goals and vision without changing what you’re doing.

    Being scared to do it might sound like “I’m pretty clear on wanting a Squarespace website and I have a rough idea of what the site could look like but I’m just freaked out that I’ll do all that work and it will amount to nothing.”

 

This isn’t a complicated process. And the payoffs of reflecting in this way whenever you feel stuck (which may be often!) are huge. The reality, though? Most people aren’t willing to be quite this honest with themselves. Because when you are this honest, you’ll no longer have excuses for not moving towards your dreams and goals. 

So you just have to decide: would you rather be stuck or would you rather be honest?

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