Last week I wrote a post about the difficulty of getting unstuck in life and relationships. Although many people know they need to make a change, few actually take steps to do so. Below is a quick cheat sheet to getting unstuck. If you’re unhappy in your job, relationship, living situation or life, take these steps to get unstuck:
1. Get clarity about why you’re unhappy. Name it, write it down and be specific. Don’t just say you’re not happy in your job or relationship, state why you’re unhappy. Is it because of a difficult co-worker, a tyrannical boss, your partner’s affair, lack of communication, harshness or (Fill in the blank). Get specific.
2. Brainstorm your options. Start from small to big options. Small options may include having a conversation, making a comment in the moment, making a request. More difficult steps may include: setting a limit, getting into couples counseling, giving an ultimatum, asking for a raise, reducing your hours, looking for another job, etc. Do not judge your list—just write it uncensored. Don’t worry yet which option is doable or not, there is plenty of time for that. Think outside the box and be creative about your options—there are often several options for any given problem.
3. Brainstorm all the things you’re doing that are not serving you in this. This list may include: being too reactive or aggressive, silencing, speaking hesitantly, procrastinating, doubting yourself, talking too much and saying little, being defensive, being passive-aggressive, escaping via alcohol, drugs or an affair, etc. Now is not the time to pretend you are perfect—look at what you are doing that is not helping the situation. We all do something and until we take off our blinders we will continue to do the same move getting us into the same bad place time and again. Look at your piece–don’t run from it.
4. Choose a step and take it NOW. Look over your options list and decide which action step you are willing to take no matter how small. It is best to have this behavior somehow correspond to the list pertaining to what you’re doing that is not serving you. Choose one to two options to implement and do so.
Change is hard and there are seldom any guarantees. Too many people wait to take a step until they have everything in place—which seldom happens. Do not wait until all your ducks are in a row—there are always a few defiant ducks that don’t like to tow the line. Proceed without perfection and… PROCEED!
Challenge: Choose a problem where you are stuck and go through the above four steps. Once complete, go back to your two brainstorming lists and circle the behavior that is hurting you the most as well as the option that corresponds to it. For example, if you are not speaking, you could circle “talk to my boss/partner/friend.” Focus on this change and see what you notice. If you are not ready to choose that change, pick the smallest change possible on your list and start there.