Revitalise Your Work – What to Do When You’re Stuck

We all have dreams – outcomes we would really like. But often the obstacles seem too great. So they stay dreams, never making it into reality.

We feel stuck, so we try to get on with day-to-day tasks and struggle to ignore the frustration. This is a heavy brake on our performance. In his brilliant book ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ Tim Gallwey first showed a new way to look at this:

Performance = Potential – Interference

Gallwey found that, as a tennis coach, his clients improved their game much more as he told them less what to do. Giving instructions appeared to interfere with their learning.

Instead he focused on helping the client increase their self-awareness, finding then more of the player’s potential automatically became real. Moving on from tennis, Gallwey’s approach has been applied in many other fields. It seems universal, so we can apply it too.

This means that if we are unable to reach the goals that really matter to us, we can turn the situation around by reducing the interference we experience.

This interference can come in many forms and when it rises to a certain level, we become completely stuck.

Here are 4 key principles to getting unstuck:

1. Start from where you are

It’s easy to set conditions and prerequisites, such as “I’ll start when I’m qualified” or “I’ll start when I’ve finished the project” or the classic “I’ll start when I’ve got more time”.

Remember you’re aiming to start, to become unstuck. That means taking some action now. You can only start from where you are, otherwise you remain stuck.

2. Be yourself

We can fall into the trap of thinking that we can only start if we follow the example of someone else. This example could be a real person or a more general sense of the ‘right way’. In either case, we impose a major constraint on ourselves.

By all means use a role-model when it helps you towards your goal but if it hinders you, change the role model!

3. Be kind

It’s amazing that we sometimes give ourselves harsh and damning treatment that we wouldn’t dream of giving to another person.

If you’re stuck, beating yourself up about it is unlikely to help. Sure, you can be determined but be sensitive. Use rewards and encouragement just like you would to get the best from another person.

4. Use your natural motivation

If your car was stuck in the mud, getting it moving again would be more important than the exact direction you take. You can always correct the course later.

Take the first steps where you have motivation to do so. This builds some momentum which you can then turn more exactly towards your goal. This is the secret behind the wisdom “If you want something done, ask a busy person” because that person already has loads of momentum.

Once started, you will begin to move towards your goal. If things ever get ‘sticky’ again you can revisit these principles to free up your progress.