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Darkness was quickly consuming the light as we stood, eyes fixated on the situation we had somewhat intentionally gotten ourselves into. The Jeep Rubicon that we rented begged us, no pleaded for us to take it off-roading.  So we obliged her with an afternoon of impulse infused off-road adventure. And then it happened. Stuck.  Not in the over dramatic, inconvenient and frustrating type of way. We were stuck like Winnie the Pooh’s head in a jar of Honey type of stuck. Did we bring water? Yes, but it we didn’t have a lot.  Did we have a cell phone to call for help? Yes. But our adventure had led us to a place without cell reception.  Did we have any type of survival gear? No. Our afternoon of adventure and fun did not include trying to survive.

We were stuck and only had two options. 1) Start walking. 2) Figure out how to get unstuck.  We quickly realized that option #2 was the only real option. Why? The rental car company, more than likely, wanted their vehicle back.

There is nothing like the feeling of being stuck.  There is certain degree of helplessness as any good options, or even semi-mediocre options, are limited in availability. The reality of the situation, and what you did to contribute to it, keeps reminding you of failure. With all your strength, you try to get unstuck. But that has left you exhausted. Ignore it and it will go away? Yes, you have tried that too.  How has it worked? Ignoring your situation only exacerbates it.

Are you stuck?

  1. Are you stuck in a job that is not fulfilling or is at a dead-end?

  2. Are you stuck in an unhealthy relationship that is emotionally stifling?

  3. Are you stuck in an addiction that is consuming everything about you?

  4. Are you stuck in self-doubt, never thinking you are good enough to accomplish something significant?

  5. Are you stuck in negative thinking – constantly seeing the cup as half-full?

  6. Are you stuck in a guilt-inducing vortex because of your past actions?

Maybe a better question is this:  Where are you stuck? Go ahead, write it down.

I have developed a tool to help you get unstuck.  (Click the image to download.) Use it as you make your way through these five steps. (Begin with “I am stuck . . .”)

Stuck? Plan to get unstuck

Now that it’s written, look at it. Face the reality that you are stuck in an area of your life.  Once you have identified specifically where you are stuck, use these five steps to help get you unstuck.

1. Remove “I want to”

Stop and think about these three limiting words: I want to. How many world-changing dreams have crashed into the mountain of “I want to”? There is an enormous chasm between these two phrases: 1) I want to lose weight. 2) I will lose weight. The word “want” leans towards self-doubt and disbelief. The word “want” sounds like you are half-hearted, pessimistic, and if any obstacle surfaces, you will cave.  The word “want” has built into it a 10% chance that you might accomplish what you set out to do. The toxic combination of self-doubt, lack of commitment, and fear makes up the other 90%.

Instead, start using these powerful, forward moving, fear-conquering words: “I will”.  I will face the future. The past won’t keep me captive. Today, I will take the needed steps to face my addiction.  I will forgive.  This will eliminate the bitterness that is ravaging all my relationships. Procrastination? I will wake up and put on my running shoes now. I will eat to live. Not live to eat.  I will embrace that I have more to offer this world. Because of that fact, I am going to start plotting a course to change jobs and start doing what I was made to do. I will!

Action: Envision the future of not being stuck.  “I will ________________”

2. Engage the +1

Say this out-loud: “I can’t do it myself.” No, seriously.  Say it now. (Don’t worry about the people sitting beside you. They will get over it.) This culture is screaming that you don’t need anyone else except for you. You have the will-power. The determination you posses is powerful. You are wise. And there is some truth in that thinking. But we also know that we, as human beings, have self-destructive, limiting, and fear driven limitations.

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, has been vulnerable and transparent about his journey over the past 4 years. He has talked about the people in his life that has helped him get unstuck. People like Ray Lewis who gave him the book Purpose Driven Life.  His mother, the constant source of encouragement, love and support who continues to speak into his life.  Bob Bowman, his long-time coach, that stayed committed to him even when he didn’t want to get unstuck.

Embrace the reality that you need a +1 (or +2 or +3) in your life to help you get unstuck.

Action: Write down a name (or two) who is your +1.

3. Take one step

Being stuck is an overwhelming experience.  “How did I get here?” and “I should have known better.” consumes your mind.  You try to see what life is like when you aren’t to stuck, but the convoluted collage of what life might look like after you are unstuck emerges and begs you to throw in the towel.   Hold on to this: Perseverance is not about the finish line, but the next step.

Today, take one step. Tomorrow, take another step. When you get tired and discouraged because the step is too exhausting, you have your +1 to link arms with you.

Action: Write down in box #3 one specific step that you are going to do today to help get unstuck. 

4. Repeat #3

Take another step. Then take an additional step. Don’t stop until you are unstuck. And when you are unstuck, don’t stop taking steps. Don’t stop engaging your +1 and always say “I will”. (Because if you stop, you just might get stuck again.)

Action: Use the additional space to plan out your next steps. 

5. Make it Visual

Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. One of the most powerful steps in any goal setting process is to write it out and then look at it every day.

Action: Print and hang it in a visible place. (Or save it on your computer’s desktop.)

It is up to you whether or not you want to get unstuck.  They journey might have ups and downs, twists and turns.  You might find yourself wondering if you will ever get unstuck. Just remember that life is so much more about the journey than some specific destination. And like the great philosopher Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

You have great places to go. You have lives to impact. You have so much to offer this world. So don’t stay stuck.

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