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Five Steps to Get Unstuck at Work and in Life

Take action to get out of your rut.

Jan 18, 2021

By Sunny Jordan, Strategic Partnerships Manager

2020 had its share of ups and downs and if you scroll through social media threads, you’ll find that people are already requesting a refund on their trial period of 2021. 

In less than three months, we will arrive at the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 shutdowns in America and its associated loss, frustrations, and fears. Many things are still out of our control, including our normal routines of driving to work, grocery shopping, and gathering with friends. 

It’s normal to feel frustrated or stuck when faced with uncertainties. Many are asking, “How do I get unstuck?” “How do I move forward in my career, goals, and life despite all that’s happening?” 

I believe the way to get “unstuck” is to start at your point of control. Following are five steps to get unstuck at work and in life. 

1. Shift your mindset.

There is a saying, “What you think about, you become.” The more you think about negative situations, the more you create negative outcomes. The ability to move forward in life greatly depends on your attitude and thoughts. Mindset shifts don’t happen overnight. Incremental steps are required to make lasting change. The first step is to acknowledge that negativity may exist within you. Then you must desire to change the negative thought or behavior. 

Action: Send yourself a recurring email to arrive on Monday mornings. The email can simply be a quote, a positive affirmation, or an intention you set for the week. No longer look at Mondays as the worst day of the week but instead as an opportunity to start anew. 

2. Use your experiences to grow stronger.

We might not be able to stop hardships/setbacks from happening, but we can change how we respond to them. You decide whether hardships make or break you. How do you develop the attitude to keep moving forward? Use challenging experiences as opportunities to grow as a person. 

Action: View your challenges as lessons and learn from them. Allow setbacks to become a teacher that creates new meaning to your life. This will keep setbacks from breaking you and instead, provide you with value and meaning. 

3. Don’t be a magician, face your problems.

If you’re like me, you’ve wished for a magic potion that would make COVID-19 vanish, as if this would take away all of life’s problems. Truth be told, some of the problems you’re facing existed pre-COVID and possibly would have shown up along your path anyway. We must face life’s challenges head on. Although it may be painful, confronting our problems is necessary. 

Action: Be honest and stop hoping things will change magically. Grab a notebook and pen. Write down all your problems or challenges. As you’re writing, you might discover that your perceived problems aren’t as bad as they seem. Writing down your problems allows you to release the overwhelming pressure of hiding them. Do this daily without attempting to create a solution. This can be a very freeing exercise.

4. Know what you need to get unstuck.

For me, I need a roadmap of what I plan to achieve. When I don’t have a clear picture of where I’m going, I often get stuck and feel unmotivated. Within my roadmap, I define my goals and set a clear vision. Without a clear picture, the end results might seem far off. 

Action: Create a step-by-step plan, define your vision/mission, and set goals and deadlines. In addition, write down potential setbacks, your support system, and how you will measure success. 

5. Use micro-habits to create new behaviors.

The quickest way to get unstuck is to take micro-actions daily. This helps build the momentum required to achieve desired life outcomes. Read any self-help book and you’ll see that successful people continuously venture out of their comfort zones. This quote from Simon Sinek resonates with me: “If we think of everything we have to do, we feel overwhelmed. If we do the one thing we need to do, we make progress.”

Action: According to the Pavlok Habit Model, there are three steps to developing micro-habits.

#1 Establish a micro-habit (e.g., Set your alarms to cue you to journal daily, drink water, exercise, etc.)

#2 Create a meaningful routine that encourages you to execute the new behavior. For instance, instead of setting a 15-minute time limit to write a proposal, set a smaller task to write three sentences. The goal is to build upon the micro-habit and eventually, you will “overcome overwhelm.” 

#3: Reward yourself each time you achieve your micro-habit. A reward could be watching your favorite show, enjoying a nice meal, etc. The reward is not as important as establishing positive reinforcement to reach your goal. 

I am reminded of this quote from the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann, “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” 

It’s impossible to make long-lasting changes overnight. Remember to take one step at a time. Practice the art of patience, which is necessary for gradual change and moving forward. Good luck, and stay positive in 2021!

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