Here's seven strategies to move you forward when you feel stuck.
Regardless of your situation, I have a strategy I use with my coaching clients called F.O.R.W.A.R.D. that can help you break free from being stuck and make progress. Each letter of the acronym represents one of the seven steps.
What do you do when you’re stuck? Our journey through life can wind through difficult territory and sometimes we get lost or struck. Our dreams may have died or maybe we’ve tried everything we know, but nothing is working.
It could be that you have a goal in mind but just can’t figure out how to reach it. “Stuck” can look like being in a job you don’t like, a relationship that’s not working, a creative project that’s hit a wall, or financial debt. After being stuck for a long period of time, we may feel confused, overwhelmed, or like giving up. Don’t lose heart, you can find a way to move forward! Keep reading and I’ll share a seven-step strategy to move you forward when you feel stuck.
One evening not long ago, my husband, son, and I were driving home after going out to a restaurant for dinner. We had a nice evening and our stomachs were well satisfied with our entrees. But as we drove home, much to our dismay, we saw flashing lights ahead of us and the road was backed up with traffic. As we got closer, we could see that a semi-truck hauling a trailer had tried to turn around on the road and had gotten stuck in the mud on the shoulder. The whole truck and trailer was length wise across the entire road. A few trucks had attempted to go around behind the semi but they had also gotten stuck in the mud. A deep ditch paralleled the road, so no one could get around the front of the semi. Now, we were all stuck. The semi was grounded, and the other stuck trucks blocked any way around. Sitting in the dark in our vehicles, we realized we now only had two options: wait for a wrecker to arrive and pull out the semi and other vehicles or turn around and take a different route that would add another twenty minutes to our drive.
In this scenario, we were all stuck for different reasons, yet stuck as we were, we still had options to get “unstuck.” Regardless of your situation, I have a strategy I use with my coaching clients called F.O.R.W.A.R.D. that can help you break free from being stuck and make progress. Each letter of the acronym represents one of the seven steps:
O: Organize the obstacles and options
R: Resolve obstacles and conflicts
W: Write it down
A: Ask for help
R: Realistic Steps
D: Do it!
Faith that Moves You Forward
Moving forward begins with faith. If we cannot visualize or hope for a future that is better than the present, then how can we move towards that future? You must believe that change can happen in order to move forward. Faith has to do with how we see God and how we see ourselves. Even in situations that seem hopeless or very challenging, do you believe God is able to bring change? We must remember that God is greater than our struggles and obstacles. Jesus said in Luke 18:27 that “what is impossible with men is possible with God.” We must also see ourselves through a faith mindset, believing that we are able to move forward because of who we are in Christ—more than conquerors and loved by God. (Romans 8:37). Faith is ultimately looking to God and relying on his power and grace so we can move forward and take action.
Organize the Obstacles and Options
What are the issues or obstacles that are keeping you from moving forward? Usually its not just one thing, and we have to begin to sort through the issues. For instance, maybe you want to make a career change, but several issues are holding you back—you need to have more training or education to move into a different career, the current job you have takes up too much time for you to continue your education, and you are fearful or anxious about trying to make the change. Once you recognize the issues that are holding you back, you need to consider your options. Don’t just assume that you have no options or that you only have a few options. Consider all possibilities and options. Look at things from a different angle. A friend or life coach may be able to help you see possibilities you might not have considered previously. Make a list of the issues or obstacles and possible options for each one.
Resolve the Obstacles and Conflicts
Once you have clarified what the issues and obstacles are, you have to take the next step and resolve them. Its great once you have recognized why you are stuck and have explored your options, but you will have to resolve the obstacles so that you can actually move forward. What action steps are you going to take to bring resolution? External obstacles are typically more straightforward, but you may have some internal blocks or conflicts that must be resolved, like fear, unforgiveness, lack of confidence, or a limiting belief. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall, it might be that you have an internal block that you have not resolved.
Write it Down
Psychologists and neuroscientists have recognized that the process of writing uses all the parts of the brain. Writing down your thoughts can help you better process, and once you have something written down on paper, you have something concrete to look at and provide greater accountability. I recommend writing down a list of obstacles, then for each obstacle, write down possible solutions. Next, write down your goals and the steps you will need to take to reach those goals. What resources will you need? Write those down as well. Keep writing and you will have a written plan to get to where you want to be.
Ask for Help
Sometimes we’ve done all we can do alone and need to ask for help, but don’t feel ashamed. It takes courage to ask for help, and most successful people have had the help of others. We can learn from others and we need other people. Consider the semi-truck and other vehicles stuck in the mud in my first illustration—the drivers had done everything they could, but now needed someone to pull them out of the mud. At times we need encouragement, and at other times it might be helpful to learn from the experience of others. We might also benefit from delegating certain tasks to others. Whether its an expert in your field, a friend or family member, counselor or life coach, reach out for help. Don’t assume people know that you need help or how to help you. Try to be specific about what you need when asking for help.
Even if your goal is grandiose or challenging, be sure the steps you plan to take are realistic. You can plan to climb Mount Everest, but be sure to be realistic as you are planning your steps! You will need to prepare, have the right resources, create a plan, and then literally get there one step at a time. What do you realistically need to do to prepare? Step one might be doing physical training for a few months to get your body ready. Step two might be researching the proper gear. Step three might be talking to others who have made the climb. Step four might be purchasing the right gear. Whatever the case, break your goal into realistic steps. Take into consideration how much time, money, or resources might be needed.
One reason people stay stuck is because they never take action. You might have figured out why you are stuck, discovered options, resolved your obstacles, and created a plan, but until you actually put you plan into action and take the steps to move forward, you will stay right where you are. You’ve just got to do it! You can know all the right things to do, but that won’t do any good and until you do it.
So remember how to move F.O.R.W.A.R.D: Faith, organize obstacles and options, resolve the obstacles, write it down, ask for help, have realistic steps, and do it! Follow this strategy and you’ll be “out of the mud” and moving forward into your dreams!
Dixie Thomas is a wife, mother, shepherdess and life coach. Check out her website at www.TheCompassLifeCoach.com.