You’re doing everything right — but you still feel stuck


December 12, 2014
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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?

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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 (open) and our body language (leaning forward). We bring our best selves to the table and do the best we can. Being and acting accountable is a choice we make because we care — and no one can do that for us.

That’s not to imply that taking responsibility is slacking off. There are enough people who shirk their duties to make those who don’t look like superstars. But we’re talking about more than following the rules. We’re talking about bringing the energy and the creativity to surpass the usual. To make something better. To get truly unstuck.

Are you stepping up?
Accountability is as much about attitude as it is about action. In accountability mode, focusing on the goal and how to get there makes it easy to stay on a determined path. But sometimes, our all-too-human emotions and desires distract us. And that’s when we start to get stuck, often without realizing it.

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

In the back of your mind, you know you should be working on it, but you’ll wait until someone asks before you hop to it. If this sounds like you, read “Something’s got to give,” below.

You do everything you’re told to do, and you do it well, so you don’t understand why no one’s giving you a gold star. If this sounds like you, read “See what’s missing.”

Your partner is so very into the project that you let him handle most of it. If this sounds like you, read “Get in the game.”

It wasn’t your idea initially so you don’t feel ultimately responsible for how it turns out. If this sounds like you, read “Get over yourself.”

If there are five iPads and six people, you’ll volunteer to go without. If this sounds like you, read “Take what’s yours.”

Something’s got to give. You don’t have the time or the energy to give it everything you can, so you give just enough. Maybe you’re overextended or maybe you’d rather do something else, but either way, the result is the same: stress and resentment. You’ll shine brighter for all concerned if you take something off your plate.

See what’s missing. If you really care about the outcome, this is when you need to look up from your checklist and search for gaps. Gaps are the areas that people rarely talk about that could use improvement. Take on just one and you’ll stand out from the crowd. Make it a habit and you’re on your way to hero status.

Get in the game. It’s hard to get motivated when you feel like a tag-along. Alpha Dog has it handled, you tell yourself, so why bother? Because you’re doing yourself an injustice by passively standing on the sideline. When you handle your role well (and maybe a tiny bit more), your part will grow naturally. But if you sit back and watch things play out, you will always be a spectator.

Get over yourself. Have you heard the phrase “Not my circus, not my monkeys”? This saying evokes the sullenness that surfaces when you’ve got issue with who’s in charge, how it’s run, or who’s getting the credit. It’s not your problem. But your obvious hands-off approach just might be making you look like the monkey in this case. Squelch the “what about me” feelings and join in. If you can’t, politely excuse yourself.

Take what’s yours. This is a tricky one, because your thoughtfulness for others can mask your lack of accountability to yourself. If you’re often doing without or making do, how can you be your best self? It’s not selfish to take what you need so you can, in turn, give your all. 

Next week: How to keep going when you really don’t want to
Last week: What to do when you can’t decide

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