Four years ago I was feeling completely stuck. I was at home with two small children after having left my successful corporate career behind a few years earlier. I didn’t know what my true calling was, I didn’t have a clue what my next career move would be – and I did not know how to get unstuck.
I kept reading blogs about finding your passion and living the big life. We’ve all been there, reading those amazing stories of women who do it! The titles would promise ‘5 Easy Steps To Success/Happiness/Life Balance..’ and ‘Success Made Easy..’ and ‘One Week Course To Make Million Dollars’ and so on.
They all promise an instant solution. Just take the magic pill and you’ll be fine!
I was desperate for the answers but even in my darkest hour I realised that it just wouldn’t be that simple. Self-help literature would only take me so far!
Looking back, I was suffering from the following symptoms of ‘stuckness’ (It’s not a medical term but I’m sure you can relate.)
Expecting there to be one right answer
Even though I had already been through various career shifts, struggles and personal transformations, looking back now, it’s amazing how I couldn’t see my way through. I was still waiting for that one right answer to appear so I could avoid exposing my vulnerability.
Many people expect that if they just think hard enough, if they research long enough, they will find the one answer that will end their struggle. Good luck with that. It certainly didn’t work for me!
If you see life as an end goal – one perfect situation that has to be attained – you are in for a long and stressful ride. Life evolves all the time. It is a journey of chaos and constant change. When you find that one answer you should already be asking for more questions.
Expecting I could figure it out sitting on my sofa
We feel stuck because we don’t want to admit that we don’t have all the answers to our life. We look at other people around us and think they must have all it all figured out, so we keep quiet.
The news is, everyone struggles at some point in their lives. Struggle is not the same as failure. And failure is not fatal! Looking for answers is part of transforming your life and finding new avenues. You have to take that risk and be vulnerable.
Expecting I don’t need any help
The fear of exposure keeps you from not telling anyone you are stuck. I tried that too. I used to be this successful branding consultant. So if I would have asked for help it would have meant I wasn’t perfect, right?
But one day I did, and it changed everything. It was this one single opening, that one call to a friend to say I was struggling to find my path that lead me out of that corridor to a wide open space. I was introduced to Jennifer and together we came up with the idea of DrivenWoman. And the rest is history. Can you risk not asking for help?
Expecting I could keep it a secret
The more you mull things over in your head and keep your struggle a secret, the bigger the monster becomes. Not letting out steam may develop into depression or physical problems. I know, I broke my gut trying to figure things out in my head!
Thinking I wasn’t enough
Tying your self-worth to your work, your success or the lack of it, to the people you know, the way you look or the fashion labels you are wearing is simply the ego protecting itself. I had created an identity based on external validation, an identity I was desperate to protect. Such identity is like an armour, it gives you this false feeling of safety but in reality it keeps you stuck and separates you from finding your next step.
So how to get unstuck then?
The only remedy I know for getting out of ‘stuckness’, tried and tested over the years by yours truly, is – doing. With this I mean stepping out, trying things outside of my comfort zone, exposing myself to failure, being vulnerable and taking emotional risks.
You can start with a very small dosage and take the smallest possible step to get the motion going. For me it was a call to a friend and asking for help. That day I stopped pretending everything was fine. This small action changed the direction of my life, it gave me oxygen – it got me out of stuckness.
I have to add a health warning though. ‘Doing’ can also become stuckness. Some people are compulsive doers and fill their every waking hour with stuff to do so they don’t have to ‘be’. That’s another extreme and will keep you equally stuck. Try to balance ‘doing’ with simply ‘being’ and you can move forward in an authentic and stress-free way.
I don’t believe in ‘5 Easy Steps Out Of A Stuckness’, but I do believe everyone can do it.
Take the first step, brave up and show up. You will be surprised of the compassion and support you will receive. And that everyone you talk to, even those who seem to have it all figured out, have been through stuckness at some point in their lives.