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Last Updated on February 28, 2018

The Only Time That Change Doesn’t Make You Better

The Only Time That Change Doesn’t Make You Better

Tom’s always liked cooking, and his friends have always backed him up on how good he is — especially some of his homemade pizzas. So he pulled together a few pieces and decided to open a pizza place.

    The first year of business was good. Lots of customers went to his restaurant to try his pizzas.

      But after a year, a taco place opened up nearby and was becoming popular. Their lines seemed longer and their business seemed more robust.

        As this was all happening, Tom was scrolling through Facebook one day. He saw that one of his old friends, who currently works in banking services, just bought himself a new car.

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          Doubt was creeping in.

          “Why do I have to be so persistent in this business?”

          “Why can’t this be easier?”

          We all do this to some extent: we struggle, we compare to others, and we think about whether we should give up.

          Chasing the Perfect Treasure Chest

          The perfect treasure chest is a concept many human beings chase. What it means is this: when we don’t have something, we imagine this concept of a perfect treasure chest others may have. The chest is beautiful, ornate, and has all the “right” things inside of it.

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            We think about our own treasure chest and it seems ugly, faded, and containing metals and stuff with no value.

              We are comparing but doing it wrong.

              The problem is this: a lot of things we want or see others having (rewards, nice cars, big houses, etc.) can be attained by us too at some point. But once they’re attained, the fantasy associated with them is gone. Once the fantasy is gone, it’s easier to see downsides. This is why many people don’t feel satisfied even when they accrue lots of possessions.

              Now let’s turn back to Tom. Tom could get that luxury car.

                But he would need to deal with a lot of uncomfortable clients to promote his financial plans to satisfy their clients needs, and do a lot of networking to connect with different business men. It would be a lot of tough work too behind that luxurious car.

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                  Eventually he’ll see the downsides of this car. Once that happens, what will he want? The next perfect treasure chest.

                    The cycle just keeps going. ON and on. You’ll never find that perfect treasure chest.

                    What can you do, though?

                    Embrace the Flawed Chest

                    Reward is important, but you need to understand the downsides of opportunities too. In reality, every chest contains something you don’t want. Maybe half of them are gold and jewels, and the other half of them are crappy metals.

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                      Look inside any theoretical treasure chest. Some may have more “gold,” others more “diamonds,” and most might have some degree of rusted, crappy metals. The gold is great and seems valuable (huge house, flashy car). But do you really need the “gold” in this perfect treasure chest? Potentially not.

                        The truly important aspect is looking at the crappy old metals and thinking, “How could these become gold in my eyes?” In other words, what is needed to turn them into new opportunities? How can the downsides become the next upsides?

                        There are two approaches: you can either ditch the old treasure chest in pursuit of the new perfect chest, but that will become a lifelong circular struggle with no potential resolution.

                        Or you can figure out what elements of the old chest can be turned into new opportunities, and you might get closer to personal fulfillment.

                          The Perfect Chest Never Exists, Stop the Endless Chase

                          Consistently chasing the next beautiful, grandiose thing will not bring you closer to fulfillment. Think more on what you really want, not the flashy elements of the next perfect treasure chest.

                          You have the ability to make the right choice here. Don’t quit easily. If you choose to pursue a treasure chest, remember that you can learn a lot more from the old, ugly metals than the flashy gold you smile at. The ugly metals are the opportunities you need to grow.

                          Read more in my other article how to stay motivated all the time: You Can Never Taste the True Value If You Give up Too Early

                          More by this author

                          Leon Ho

                          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

                          Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life? How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over?

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                          Published on November 12, 2018

                          10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When You’re Feeling Extra Stuck

                          10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When You’re Feeling Extra Stuck

                          We have all felt stuck at some point in our lives. Perhaps you feel stuck right now.

                          Maybe you’re feeling a little stuck working on a creative project, like writing an article or painting a piece of art. Perhaps you started a new business, took on a major project at work or began a new health or fitness regimen.

                          Your initial excitement has worn off and you’re now feeling stuck, confused or overwhelmed by how to keep progressing forward. Or maybe, you’re a lot stuck. You feel trapped in a job you hate, a relationship that isn’t working, a boatload of debt, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you’d imagined.

                          Let’s be honest. Regardless of how stuck you are, it’s a terrible feeling. Feeling trapped and unsure how to move forward can lead to feelings of, confusion, angst, hopelessness, insecurity and overwhelm.

                          Sometimes we just want to throw in the towel and give up. But don’t give up just yet.

                          Whether you feel just a ‘little stuck’ or like you’re stuck in dry concrete; trying to make a small or big decision; wondering what you’re doing with your life), feeling trapped in a job, overwhelmed by debt, unhappy in a relationship or life that isn’t the one you want to live, these 10 strategies can help you move forward again.

                          1. Take a step back

                          Your first step forward when you feel stuck is to take a step back. Often, we try to get unstuck by pushing forward with sheer force or just trying harder. But as Einstein said,

                          “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

                          Access a different level of thinking by assessing your current situation from a new viewpoint. Whenever I’m working with clients who feel stuck, this is the first thing I ask them to do.

                          I have them think about where they are, what got them here and what they really want. When you step back from your life, career, and challenges and look from a bit of a distance, you see things from a different perspective.

                          Your Turn:

                          Imagine you are lost in the woods. You could keep moving forward looking for your way out. You could panic and go in circles. You could head back the way you came. You could, as I learned in camp, just sit still until help arrives.

                          Imagine instead that you could stop, take a deep breath and zoom out from your situation. Imagine you could fly above it all as if you were in a helicopter and look down at yourself among the trees.

                          What could you see or notice differently from this perspective – a different route, people there to support you, the way out is closer than you thought?

                          Another way to ‘zoom out’ is to look at your situation as a neutral observer. Imagine you’re a fly on the wall watching your life. What insights or advice would you give yourself?[1]

                          2. Get specific

                          It’s hard to move forward until you fully understand why you are stuck. You have to get specific and identify what’s really going on. You must name it to tame it.

                          A great mentor of mine once said,

                          “A well-defined problem presents its own solution”.

                          If you want to find a solution, you must truly understand the underlying problem. This is one of the premises of coaching. When you dig a little deeper to the real issue/challenge/blockage, solutions tend to present themselves.

                          For example, there are big differences between, ‘I feel stuck’ and ‘I feel stuck because I’m overwhelmed with the details’ or ‘I feel stuck because I’m worried what people are going to think of me.’ Once you name it, you are more likely to be able to tame it.

                          One of the most important questions I ask clients is, ‘What’s getting in the way?’ When they answer, the next question is always, ‘What else?’ We continue along this route until we feel we’ve gotten to the real, underlying issue(s).

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                          Your Turn:

                          Seek to uncover the underlying issues that are getting in your way and stopping you from progressing. You can do this by journaling, talking to someone who knows you well, or simply taking the time to ask yourself these questions.

                          Once you name it, perhaps the solution will then present and tame itself.

                          3. Reconnect to your ‘why’

                          Feeling stuck is often because you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture and what’s important. You’ve lost your why.

                          Why did you start this in the first place? What reasons, values or passions drove you to make this change in your life? What picture do you have for yourself, your business and your life? Why are you wanting to achieve or accomplish this?

                          By reminding yourself of your original intention and purpose, it gives you the intrinsic motivation to get back on track and move ahead.

                          Connecting to your deeper ‘why’ will be the fuel that keeps you going, even through tough times and roadblocks.

                          Your Turn:

                          Whatever you’re stuck on right now, grab a journal and ask yourself, “Why is this important to me?” ,”Why did I start this in the first place?” “What am I trying to achieve here and why is that important to me? “

                          4. Brainstorm Your Options

                          We often feel stuck because we don’t see any way out from our current situation – we feel we don’t have any options.

                          By brainstorming ideas and possibilities, you expand your mind and open your thinking to finding a new solution. When you can see potential options, you won’t feel so trapped anymore. 

                          This is not about deciding the one thing or making the right choice, it’s about allowing your creative mind to expand and see all the potential possibilities. We often dive straight into finding the right one and eliminate anything that doesn’t feel perfect.

                          That’s why so many people feel stuck. They are attempting to find the next right career, the best way to handle a situation or the one perfect idea. This can lead to a lot of stress and analysis paralysis.

                          The reality is that there is no single best or right. There are many possibilities that could work for your situation. It’s about the next step right now.

                          If you hate your career, what new potential careers are on your mind? List them all out – even the ones that seem unrealistic or silly.

                          If you’re unhappy in your relationship, what can you do? There are likely a lot more options than you’ve considered. What are they?

                          Your Turn:

                          Make a list of options for your current situation – as crazy or ‘out there’ as they might be.

                          When you think you’ve thought of everything, ask yourself, ‘What other options are there?’ This allows you to dig deeper and see ideas you might not have otherwise explored.

                          Then, and only then can you start to identify the way forward.

                          5. Take a brain break

                          Full disclosure, I’m stealing this strategy from my 7-year-old daughter’s second-grade teacher.

                          The other night I was helping my daughter with homework, she was getting super frustrated and wasn’t sure what to write in a letter to her big buddy. She was on the verge of tears when she looked up and asked, ‘Mom, can I take a brain break?’ She got up from the table, walked downstairs to her room and played with her stuffed animals. When she came upstairs a short time later, she was as happy as could be and jumped right into her writing.

                          We could all use a brain break when we’re stuck. A chance to shift focus gives our brains a chance for quiet; it takes the pressure off so we can come back with a fresh mind and new perspective.

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                          When we take a brain break, it refreshes our thinking and helps us discover another solution to a problem or see a situation through a different lens. The brain break actually helps to incubate and process new information.[2]

                          A great brain break is to do something physical that gets you in flow. Take a hike, a run, a walk around the block. Another well-known brain break is meditation – which has so many proven benefits I can’t even begin to name them all. Try it, it works.

                          I have one friend who says taking a shower helps her get unstuck. ’Somehow good thoughts come up in that silent space.’

                          Your Turn:

                          What kind of brain breaks can you give yourself? Which would be most helpful?  It’s not just for second graders anymore.

                          6. Let go of what’s not working

                          Have you ever walked through the mud and had your boot get stuck and your foot fly out? When this happens, you usually have two choices: either put your boot back on and keep plodding through, repeating the frustration as it continually gets stuck, or you can take off that boot and move forward.

                          The same is true in life. When we get stuck, we often stay in the mud and try to drag our boot along. We keep doing what’s clearly not working. The boot represents limiting beliefs, old habits, or stories you’re telling yourself.

                          Remember in the movie “UP” when Mr. Fredricksen is trying to get his house to fly? It was too heavy. He had to dump out his belongings until the house was light enough to lift off.

                          Same is true here; you’ve got to get rid of the emotional baggage you’re carrying so you can move forward and fly.

                          Take my client *Lucy for example. She was stuck trying to figure out what she wanted next in her life and career. She was having trouble finding a job she was interested in. Through our work together, we uncovered that Lucy had an interesting belief: that having a job and being happy were mutually exclusive.

                          She believed she couldn’t have a job and be happy at the same time. This meant she was either going to be jobless and joyful or employed and miserable. In order to move forward in her career search, she needed to take off this ‘boot’ and believe she could find a job where she could, in fact, be happy.

                          Your Turn:

                          What’s holding you back? An old habit, limiting belief or story you are telling yourself? How can you reframe your thinking in order to change the direction you are headed?

                          7. Know what you need to get unstuck

                          We all have a way in which we operate that is unique to us. When you understand how you’re wired, you can understand more specifically what you need to get unstuck. It’s like your own personal formula for moving forward.

                          For me, I need a crystal-clear picture of what I’m trying to achieve and a big, tangible goal to reach for.  When I don’t have a clear picture of the end result or challenging target I’m trying to hit, I feel stuck and demotivated. 

                          Here are some common needs: 

                          Astep-by-step plan, to understand why something is important, deadlines and impending pressure, unconditional encouragement and support, to think things through, connecting to a deeper meaning, freedom, and flexibility, and certainty.

                          Do you relate to any of these?

                          Your Turn:

                          What do you need to get unstuck? If you’re not quite sure, you might want to check out the I.D.™ (Instinctive Drives™). It’s a tool I’ve used for almost 20 years (and have all my clients take). It helps you understand what you need to be at your best, including what will help you get unstuck.

                          8. Shift your state

                          When you’re in a stuck state, it actually creates a cycle of ‘stuckness.’ Get yourself out of there!

                          Instead of placing all your focus and energy on the problem, shift your focus and energy to another area of your life. Go do something that brings you joy; spend time with someone you love.

                          Do anything to shift your state and mood. This will switch your downward cycle of ‘doom and gloom’ into an upward cycle of ‘hope and possibility’.

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                          A great way to shift your state is to practice gratitude. So, you hate your job. Practice gratitude for other areas of your life. Does it support your family? Allow you to work remotely?

                          I’m not saying you should stay in a job you hate, I’m just recommending that you get perspective. A state shift brings energy, hope, and positivity into your mindset…keys to getting out of that dreaded stuck cycle.

                          Your Turn:

                          What always puts you in a good mood? What brings you joy, happiness or fulfillment?   Do it! And make sure to practice gratitude. Try this: each morning for the next week, write down three things you are grateful.

                          9. Take action

                          Getting into action is critical to getting unstuck. There’s no substitute for momentum. Action enables further action, while inactivity creates inertia, self-doubt, and confusion.

                          I love this quote from Simon Sinek:

                          ‘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.’

                          My client *Marcus had just made a career move and was setting out to start his own wellness business. The biggest problem getting in his way? Inertia.

                          The more he thought about what he was going to do, the bigger the endeavor began to feel. The more he explored the risks, challenges, and his extensive to-do list, the more he felt overwhelmed. He was stuck. 

                          However, once he took action, starting with quick wins, he gained momentum and was able to move forward and tackle bigger and more challenging steps. Once he broke through his inaction, he was on a roll.

                          My grandfather always told us: a path leads to a path. We can’t know what the future holds and trying to figure out everything before we start is a recipe for disaster.

                          Know that a path will lead to a path, a step will lead to the next step, but you have to start walking first. 

                          Your Turn:

                          What’s the next step you can take to move forward? Where is there a quick win?

                          When you think about your first (or next) step, keep it small and achievable to get the momentum going.

                          10. Reach out for help

                          This summer, my Dad took his new truck and my twin daughters on a trip to the Oregon sand dunes. Only a few minutes into the adventure, they got really stuck. They tried shoveling sand and getting out on their own, but they couldn’t. Nearly an hour later, (which felt like an eternity stuck in the middle of a pelting sandstorm), a little dune buggy came along. My Dad’s truck was six times its size, but all they needed was a little pull. They hooked up the wench and within minutes, they were free.

                          We can all use a little help when we’re stuck. This might be talking to a good friend who knows and understands you or reaching out to get advice from someone who’s been in a similar situation to yours.

                          Maybe it’s hiring a coach who will ask powerful questions to help you see things from a different angle, a therapist who can uncover hidden roadblocks or a consultant to share opinions and experiences.

                          When you’re on your own, it can feel hopeless, overwhelming and just plain impossible. But, just a little push or pull from someone can quickly change your trajectory.

                          While this may seem like one of the easiest strategies, it is actually one of the hardest to do. Why? Even though we are biologically wired to help each other, many of us find it challenging to reach out.

                          There’s a reason for this:[3]

                          ‘Asking for help exposes us to numerous possible social threats, which is why it’s so uncomfortable. It can feel like a tacit admission of weakness, which lowers our status, and can be an invitation for scorn. It creates uncertainty, and invites the possibility of rejection.’

                          Your Turn:

                          Who is your dune buggy? Who can you reach out to ask for help right now?

                          Not ready to reach out to someone just yet? Maybe you can try asking the universe. Some call this prayer, others spiritual guidance,  others faith.  Whatever you call it, reach out to someone, somewhere, somehow…now.

                          Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

                          Bonus: When all else fails, be patient

                          Sometimes when we’re stuck, we just need to practice patience. Patience that the answer is coming; the shift is going to happen. Patience that you’ve done all that you can and now, it’s time to wait and see what comes back to you.

                          I’m not suggesting you wait for months or years; but sometimes we expect things to change quickly, yet things take time. This is especially true for big life decisions and transitions or when there are others involved, like your relationships or job.

                          I love the line from Max Ehrmann’s’ Desiderata:

                          ’…whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.’  

                          Trust the unfolding and know that sometimes it may take a little longer than you’d like.

                          There’s usually a good reason, even if you can’t see it. Maybe it’s not time to move forward or make changes just yet. Maybe you don’t have all the information you need, and when you do, you’ll quickly make progress. Maybe you’re actually stuck where you need to be right now.

                          When I was in my most recent major career transition, feeling stuck and wondering if I would ever figure out my next step, this quote from Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu was exactly what I needed:

                          ‘Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?’

                          Stay strong. Be patient. The more stuck you are, the greater the freedom will feel.

                          You’re going to be okay. It won’t always be like this. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Hang in there and trust the process. Your breakthrough is coming.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Which of these strategies feel like they will work best for you and your current stuck situation?

                          You don’t have to use all of them, it just takes one.

                          Remember, any movement, momentum or shift will help get you unstuck and moving forward again. Besides, it’s never too late to start things over! Here’s the proof:

                          How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                          Featured photo credit: Michał Parzuchowski via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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