Have you ever felt stuck?

One day you’re cruising along, focused on your goals and making good progress. The next, you can’t seem to find your bearings. Nothing seems quite right and the path forward has all but disappeared. So you wait, hoping that something will happen to bring you some clarity. Sometimes you wait and wait and wait, but nothing seems to change.

I believe learning to move yourself beyond these “stuck” spots is a key component of your professional and personal development journey. Why? Because they are unavoidable. No matter how meticulous your plan or how well you align your vision to your goals, you will face a time of confusion or staleness or frustration at some point.

What’s more, you don’t really stand to learn much from staying stuck. That’s not the case for some of the other challenges you’ll face in your journey. Failure, fear or rejection at least offer you lessons – things you can learn to help move you forward. But being stuck is different. It somehow eats away at your motivation without offering much in the way of learning.

Moving Beyond Stuck

What’s the antidote for being stuck? Action. To move beyond feeling stuck, you must do something. It sounds overly simplistic, but that’s part of the beauty.

Do something. Anything. Really.

Make a decision. Take a class. Volunteer for a new assignment. Reach out to a colleague. Take action.

When we’re stuck, it seems like we need to get clear – to find the path again – before we start moving. So we sit and think and plan and worry, but nothing changes. Nothing seems clearer and we don’t seem any less stuck.

It’s not true that you need to be clear before you take action. When you’re stuck, you may feel like you’re lost in the woods, but you aren’t and the old advice about staying put until the rescuers find you doesn’t apply. Instead, it’s up to you to find the way out. And that way will only start to reveal itself when you begin to move.

Will you make a mistake? Probably. Will you waste some time? Maybe, but it will be less than the time you would have spent just waiting for your “stuckness” to pass.

Once you begin to take action and start moving again, a funny thing is likely to happen. You’ll start to feel motivated. Your sense of self-confidence will begin to filter to the surface again. Little snippets of clarity will begin to emerge.

From this new place of motivation and confidence, you’re much more likely to be able to see a path forward. The tiny actions you take move you incrementally forward until you’re able to build real momentum – the momentum you need to leave the stuck spot behind completely.

What’s more, relying on yourself to get going again builds your self-confidence in powerful ways. The next time you hit a roadblock (and you will), you’ll be much less likely to get stuck. And if you do, you’ll likely be able to move on much more quickly.

Maybe you’re in the middle of a stuck spot right now. If so, start moving. Find one action you can take today to move yourself forward. Tomorrow find another and keep going. Before long, the way forward will become more clear and you’ll be surprised to find yourself back on track.

If you’re just coming out of a stuck spot, what helped you move on? Can you identify the actions you took to get going again?