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I'm Stuck

"I’m Stuck."

I hear this phrase from so many coaching clients, friends, and family. It’s a familiar refrain with innumerable variations:

  • “I’d love to do something I’m excited about but I’m stuck in this job because…”,

  • “My team keeps trying to solve the same problem, over and over again - we are stuck in a rut.”,

  • I really want to lose weight for good but I’m just stuck in this cycle of losing and gaining the same 10 pounds.”

  • “Why does the same thing keep happening to me? I feel like I’m stuck in this pattern.”

Do any of these phrases resonate with you? Why are so many of us staying in situations that are not productive and no longer serve us? In Daryl Conner's book, Managing at the Speed of Change, he talks about a change management concept known as the Burning Platform (read more about the origin of the phrase and a more complete description of the concept here). The concept refers to jumping from the burning platform of an oil-rig into the frigid North Sea and alludes to the fact that we seldom initiate a change unless the pain of staying “stuck” (the burning platform) becomes greater than the pain of the change (the freezing ocean).

Think about the changes you have made in your life, whether those changes were relatively minor or frighteningly major. What was your burning platform? In other words, what did it take for you to leap from the burning oil-rig platform of discomfort, frustration, or unhappiness into the risk of the cold sea of change?

What would have made that leap a little less scary? A few powerful techniques can help you the next time you are in the midst of the sea of change.

5 Powerful Ways to get Unstuck

1. Change your frame

When you are considering making a change, it can sometimes feel like you

r brain is like a hamster on a wheel: asking the same questions and getting the same answers over and over again. An effective way to get off that wheel is to change your frame or perspective of the issue. For example, asking yourself what is the best outcome of the change? On a scale of 1-10 what is the possibility of that happening? What is the worst outcome? What is the possibility of that scenario? Changing your frame from hamster-on-a-wheel, to a problem-solving-mindset can allow you to think through the possibilities and make a decision.

2. Be curious

Instead of focusing on how painful the upcoming change will be for you or those around you, find your inner Curious George. Approaching change with curiosity allows you to explore the possibilities with an open mind. Rather than thinking, "this change is going to be so stressful", be curious about what might happen if you made the change.

3. Reflect on Past Successes

Think about the last time you successfully made a change similar to the one you are currently facing. What did you do? What did you learn from that situation that you could apply to your current situation? What is it about you that made you successful last time? Could that characteristic be relevant to this change?

4. Breathe

Yes, you will breathe whether you intend to or not. However, when under stress, you tend to have a shallow breathing pattern - even holding your breath for short periods of time. Shallow breathing brings less oxygen to your brain and makes it more difficult to think, compounding the stress. Mindful, deep breaths bring oxygen to your brain and help you gain clarity.

5. Hire a coach

Well, you knew that was coming, right? Honestly, though, as a coach who has her own coach, I can attest to the power of having someone ask you the questions that you need to be asked, hold you accountable to what you say you'll do, support you through the change by reminding you to trust yourself, and generally being in your corner. How is a coach different than your friends and family? A coach has no agenda of her own and no need to convince you to do one thing or another. How is a trained coach different than a therapist/counselor? A coach is focused on the present and the future while a therapist helps you work on your past.

If you are stuck and deliberating on whether or not you should make a change, and what that change should be, a coach may be exactly what you need. A professional coach can offer you a sounding board, be a cheerleader, or help you to recognize the blocks that keep you from making a change. To see if I am that coach for you, contact me for a complimentary, no obligation (truly!) 30-minute conversation.

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