“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde
Overwhelmed, stuck, spinning wheels: many people struggle in some way in taking the reins of their own personal or professional life. We want change, but can become paralyzed by options, choices, and competing interests and agendas, not necessarily all our own.
When we are edged up against something new, a vision, a longing that’s just beginning to emerge, we often put on the brakes, act like deer in the headlights, or get a little crabby. The opportunity, however, is whether fear of change, the unknown, will trump your vision of the changes you want to make.
It’s OK to be afraid: in fact there is usually some wisdom in the fear, overwhelm or procrastination. Rather than becoming paralyzed, waiting for circumstances to change, or looking to outside experts to give you “the answers,” my experience is that the most meaningful path to what you seek usually exists, in some form, within you already.
By looking inside to what really matters to you, the some form of the answer is already there. Even knowing that you’re longing for change is a guidepost.
And while it may seem harder initially to take on this type of introspection, it is ultimately more rewarding and fruitful in creating the types of change you actually want. As a bonus, the decisions you make when they are truly your own usually stick with you longer than following someone else’s well-meaning advice. Know that daring to take the reins of your own life or career is truly a courageous and powerful choice.
When you find yourself stuck or overwhelmed, try this:
1) Name it. What’s the change you are longing for? What’s important about it to you? Naming the change and why you want it clarifies your vision, and helps create a reason more compelling and motivating than fear, inertia, overwhelm, etc.
2) What values do you honor if you were to make this change?For guidance in uncovering your own values and using them in decision making, download my e-workbook “Unfold Your Road Map” by signing up in the upper right hand box.
3) What’s the cost of not making the change? To you, your understanding of your purpose, what you deeply care about.
4) What’s the crazy wisdom in being stuck? Imagine that some part of being stuck was adaptive, and you were stuck for a reason: what about being stuck works for you? Naming the part of being stuck that works – even that it means you don’t have to do anything right now – can help you honor where you are, so that you can decide how long you’d like to stay stuck.
5) Overwhelm, and its cousin, Procrastination, is usually a signal for taking a break. Rather than descending into despair or giving up entirely, see where you can take a small break: a walk around the block, or 5 minutes of deep breathing. See how actually allowing yourself to rest briefly when you feel overwhelmed helps refocus and shift your perspective on the situation.
In the comments below, tell me how do you know you’re stuck What helps you get out of it?
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been updated for content and relevancy.
Photo credit: iStock
Jean Johnson says
Great article, Hanna! Your tips for getting unstuck are right on. For me, the key is to notice the stuck, then stop so I can regroup.
Hanna Cooper, MPH, PCC, CPCC, ORSCC says