Posts tagged: Hazy

This year, let’s get stuck

Get stuck

What? Get stuck on purpose?

As counterintuitive as it sounds for a group called Unstuck to promote stuckness, we have a sound reason.

Yes, getting stuck hurts. It’s uncomfortable. Embarrassing. Shameful, even. Or is it?

What if we looked at getting stuck as a starting point rather than a stalled one? What if getting stuck was a sign of better things to come? What if never getting stuck meant that life never got better?

When you think about it that way, being stuck takes on a more positive light. It means we have the courage to admit that something is wrong. It means we have the drive to solve that problem, even if it’s a little bit at a time. It means we can be heroes in our own life.

What’s your lingering stuck moment?

Since we’re at the start of an untarnished new year, it feels like a good time to identify a stuck moment
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You’re doing everything right — but you still feel stuck

How accountable are you?

Stuck moment: I can’t believe she thinks I’m not pulling my weight. I’ve done everything that’s required — what more does she want?

*  *  *

Think of it as the silent stuck moment. There’s nothing wrong, really. What needs to happen happens. Deep down, though, you know something is off. And on the surface, it feels like treading water — tiring and not all that inspiring.

Take it as a sign that it’s time to reflect on your level of accountability in the situation.

There is responsibility — I do what I’m supposed to do — and then there is accountability — I do what it takes. It may seem subtle when put into words, but the difference is palpable when it comes to achieving our goals.

When we’re truly accountable, we’re all in. We’re motivated. We pay attention. We communicate. We battle obstacles and seek solutions. People see it in our facial expressions
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Question: How do you know when it’s good enough?

We can justify just about anything, can’t we? It’s a stand-in for lack of patience or a tired imagination or a distracted agenda. It’s good enough, right? Maybe. Sometimes.

Whenever you’re ready to sign off but you have even the slightest doubt — you know, that visceral nudge that can be easily ignored — pay attention. If you can wait an hour or a day until you’re more refreshed, revisit it later. You’ll know what needs fixing, and you’ll have the energy to do it.

If time is not on your side, find your reserve forces by asking yourself if finishing now will bother you later. Will someone else point it out what you instinctively knew could have been better? Will you be relieved that you summoned the extra
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Question: What does it feel like to be in the weeds?

It can be quite satisfying working on a micro level. We’re immersed. We have our finger on the inner-mechanisms. We understand — and control — the details. That kind of familiarity makes us feel like we’re substantially part of something.

Then there are the moments when it stops making sense. Are we doing it just to do it? Are we doing the right thing? Why are we doing this at all? When the weeds grow too tall, it’s a sign that it’s time to zoom out. To step back and cast a dispassionate eye on what is and then ask the broader
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Question: What’s your safety zone?

Comfort zones are critical. They let us replenish energy levels, shore up confidence, and relax. Without them, we’d probably operate in a state of manic stress or utter exhaustion. And that’s not good for anyone. But neither is shrink-wrapping yourself in safety.

Try something different every now and then to expand your world. It helps to start small (take a new route to work; attend a half-day conference) and feel your enthusiasm for the unfamiliar build.

One of our favorite stories about pushing limits is the extreme case of James Bradley, who was told after his surgery that sport activities were no longer in his future. That was not a safety zone he would stay
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Find fresh possibilities in a stale situation

Tunnel Visionary

Getting stuck as a Tunnel Visionary can be trickier to recognize and solve than other kinds of stuck moments.

We think we have all the information, yet we don’t feel fully informed. We puzzle through what we know again and again, but can’t find a satisfying solution. Deep down, we long for the missing link, that tidbit that will instantly make the pieces click together — yet our gaze never strays from what’s already in our line of sight.

Yes, indeed, we’re hemmed in.

And we aren’t the only ones. Oprah Winfrey, Milton Glaser, Rachael Ray, and other famous folk were each famously stuck operating within the limits of what was. But when they shifted their perspective to what could be, great things happened.

There are at least three different ways Tunnel Visionaries burrow into their stuck moments (take our mini-quiz to discover your tendency). Once you understand your approach, it’s a
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You’re the fixer — but you can’t fix it. Now what?

Tunnel Visionary

We are the problem-solver, the fixer, the emotional handyman of our tribe. The world runs more smoothly and smartly because we’re in it.

Keen understanding is the secret to our prowess — looking at all the information and knowing what to do with it. But, on rare occasion, a few pieces of the puzzle are missing, and then we’re stuck. It’s an unfamiliar sensation. We don’t have much practice at this stuck thing, so we feel like we’re stumbling in the twilight, unable to see what we need to make sense of it all.

In this half-blind moment, we’re acting like a Tunnel Visionary, operating without enough information to give us wider perspective.

How do we open our aperture? First, we need to understand the current mindset that we can’t seem to shake. Are we guarded? Fiercely determined? Unduly influenced?

Take our mini-quiz to find out.

Tunnel Visionary mini-quiz
First, think of a time when you were
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7 ways to get to know yourself better

Sometimes life gets in the way: Between work and friends and home obligations, it’s hard to find time to just think. And sometimes, we let life get in the way to avoid thinking. That’s a sign that something has you stuck — and you need to start listening to yourself. One of these ideas may help you do that.

  1. Spend a weekend alone.
  2. Challenge your beliefs.
  3. Forgive someone.
  4. Spend time in nature.
  5. Look at old photographs.
  6. Listen to classical guitar music.
  7. Stop rushing.

Thanks to Karen Amster-Young and Pam Godwin for this list. You can find hundreds more ideas in their book The 52 Weeks: Two Women and Their Quest to Get Unstuck, with Stories and Ideas to Jumpstart Your Year of Discovery.

Learn more about how Karen and Pam got unstuck at read more

3 ways status gets us stuck

Stuck moment: New car — check. Personal trainer — check. Impressive job title — check. I am so on track for the good life. But where’s the joy? At the end of the day I just feel…unsatisfied.

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Status, like so many human inventions, has a stuck side.

In its purest sense, status is a coping mechanism, a way for us to make sense of our world by assigning value to all sorts of things. It’s not a moral compass exactly, but it does give loose guidelines about what’s considered important and not-so in our culture.

Status also greases our economic wheels. The flip-phones we were so jazzed about six years ago are now embarrassing artifacts that have us lining up to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest smartphone.

We crave status, whether it’s bought (penthouse apartment) or not (accomplished children) because, as Alain de Botton strongly posits in his book
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Obstacle breakthrough: How to stop being stumped

You can try to stare down an obstacle until it goes away — but we don’t recommend it.

Actually, we like obstacles quite a bit. When something blocks our path, it sparks us in a couple of good ways.

First, it fires up our problem-solving skills. We get to flex parts of our brain that aren’t required when everything runs as expected. It’s not comfortable, but makes us feel alive in the moment as we puzzle through it. Then when it’s solved, well, that’s reason to rejoice that we’ve learned something.

Obstacles also remind us that it will get better. As Frank Clark, an author and military historian, once said, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Time and confidence show that things almost always work out. Maybe not as we planned, but we’re more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for. Except when we’re stuck acting
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