Unstuck in Action: Living more purposefully

Name: Michael Abata

 Age:  30

 Location: Minneapolis

Occupation: Trend and competitive intelligence manager for Target. “I spend much of my day combining the empathy and data of consumers with macro environmental, economic, and competitive trend research to develop relevant and innovative business growth strategies for many of our internal business teams at Target.“

Passionate about: The arts, kayaking, and volunteering. “I’ve been volunteering for nine years with Ten Thousand Villages, which works with artisan groups in third-world countries to bring their products to stores. Right now, I’m helping with their social media strategy for the St. Paul store.”

How did you hear about the Unstuck app?
At the PSFK Conference [in October 2011] when Keith Yamashita spoke about it. I was sitting next to him for most of the conference, and didn’t realize he was speaking there. I was like, ‘Holy buckets! That’s what I need!’ When somebody can put together a framework to help you identify what’s going on in your head, I get it. In my job, there’s so much going on that things can get fuzzy. Unstuck sounded like a great way to take a step back and really think about it.”

How often do you get stuck?
“People think getting stuck is a big life decision. At the [PSFK] presentation I had a realization that you can have stuck moments every day, and you need a break to step back to figure out why you’re thinking about something in a certain way…. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, you just need a different perspective.”

How do you know when you’re stuck?
“For some of my bigger life moments — like what do I want to do when I grow up — if I’m thinking about it more than a day or two or it crosses my mind more than a few times in day, it’s a red flag for me.”

What’s it like to get unstuck?
I have some clarity. I’ve gone into my head, sorted some things out, and identified what the feeling might actually mean. Sometimes nothing’s there, it was just a lot of noise. Or, I’ll see where I’m at, and can start thinking about how I want to proceed. It feels pretty awesome to be able to do that. I think a lot of people just ignore it.

What’s your latest stuck moment?
“Two months ago, I was doing a lot of traveling West Coast cities for work. Being in these cities rehashed feelings I had a year ago about wanting to explore new opportunities on the West Coast. When my travels died down, I started to question if Minneapolis and Target was still the right place for this moment in my life. So I went to a local coffee shop to sort through my thoughts using the [Unstuck] app.”

How were you acting in this stuck moment?
“As a Deflated Doer. I needed to get restoked. I was up in the air, uninspired, and hazy. I had promised myself I would live with more intent and purpose, and the app said to me that it might time to re-evaluate.”

What did you do next?
“I went through the Shake Up Your Routine tool to think about what I wanted to stop and what I wanted to start doing differently in my life. Beyond the app, I revisited some of the notes I’d taken a year ago about where I wanted to go in my career.

“I’ve definitely re-evaluated my attitude at work and about Minneapolis. I took on new projects that intellectually challenge me and make me excited. And my mindset has shifted in a way where I’m thriving and staying motivated. At the same time, I’m intentionally being spontaneous with friends to explore Minneapolis, traveling the world, and staying consistently active in my career exploration.” 

If you could change one thing about Unstuck, it would be:
“I’d love for it to be on the iPhone. I find yourself in moments like standing in long coffee line or on the bus, and my mind starts to wander. The tool could be really helpful then.”

If you would like to be interviewed for the Unstuck in Action series, contact us at ideas@unstuck.com.

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