The critical first step to getting unstuck

When you hit a stuck moment, do you admit to it?

Most of us don’t. It’s human nature. Our brains find better pleasure in avoiding the things, people, and situations that get us stuck—and all the feelings, thoughts, and actions that come with them

It took Leonardo da Vinci 16 years to complete the Mona Lisa. Writers Truman Capote and Dorothy Parker were famous for missing deadlines. And if runner Roger Bannister followed his first impulse, he may have never set a four-minute–mile record.

We all have a tendency to distract ourselves from our stuck moments. For instance, when you hit a snag, do you find yourself:

Running lots of errands or otherwise filling up your day (“See, I’m not procrastinating)?

Eating your way to happiness (“But I like cake”)?

Volunteering to head up the fundraising benefit at your kids’ school (“Nothing is more important than my child’s education”)?

Exercising like crazy (“I’m not letting my gym membership go to waste”)?

Dreaming of pleasant but implausible scenarios (“When I hit the lottery…”)?

Making good on your resolution to learn the new tax laws (I need to know this!)?

That’s why admitting you’re stuck is the first step in getting unstuck. It sounds simple, but it can lead to great things. And you can do it right now.

First, write down your stuck moment.

Next, lean into it by asking yourself:

• How does it make me feel?

• What fears and hopes does it trigger?

• How is the stuck moment affecting my life?

Jot down your answers and sit with them. Don’t try to solve anything. Don’t brainstorm or try to fix it. Just be with it for a bit, and admit you’re in a stuck moment.

It’s a powerful first step. It opens the door for reaching out to others. It stirs the imagination. And it starts the positive cycle of getting unstuck.

Here’s why getting stuck is good for you.

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