Any which way but stuck
One of the great privileges I have as a coach, is being witness to clients as they open to a new awareness, experience a breakthrough or have one of those magical ‘Ah-ha' moments. It can be very inspiring and I often find that what they discover has relevance and sparks a new thought for me. One client's recent realisation struck such a chord with me, that I asked if I could share it.
It was one of those very wet mornings where traffic grinds to a halt due to puddles so deep even police cars could get stuck. She arrived at my office a little soggy but excited, and recounted the start to her day: she always takes the same road to work, but sitting there trapped in the line-up, waterproofs not exactly living up to their name, today she decided to do something different. She detoured off the main road and took the wending, scenic, by-streets, some she'd never travelled before. She said that while the distance may have been a bit little longer, she knew which direction she was headed and it just felt good to be moving.
That's when it dawned on her that this was in fact a metaphor for her life ... not always taking the clear-cut path but creating her own route to get where she's going. Her journey may not be what others expected but she has always kept moving, kept her momentum and continues to achieve what she ultimately wants.
This is a fabulous metaphor highlighting how we can all get stuck in our lives and how important it is to ‘un-stick' ourselves when we do.
Anxiety and frustration that can arise when we're stuck in traffic won't be entirely unfamiliar to most. In life, we can sometimes find ourselves with a similar sense of being trapped or thwarted in a situation. We feel like we're not going anywhere; the sticky, restless, discontented and often down-heartened sensation of being ‘stuck'. It can creep up on us and we may not even realise we're stuck until we suddenly around and find ourselves at the bottom of a deep rut.
‘Stuckness' comes when we stop taking action or moving forward, toward what we want. We might still be busy working away but at some point we got a little derailed or off-course somehow. We become attached to the process and somehow lose sight of the result, getting caught up in the minutiae and small details while petty incidents and small setbacks absorb our energy and attention. We're going, but not going forwards, and just like car wheels on soft ground, when they are spinning fast but not moving, what happens?
Some reasons we get stuck might include:
— Wanting to do things the ‘right way' and getting caught up in perfecting a task rather than getting to the result.
— We hold a limiting belief about the situation or the way the world works which leads us to think there is ‘only one way' doing something.
— We have become attached to our ‘strategy' and even though it's not working, instead of doing something else, we continue beating our heads against the wall.
— We may be trying to fulfil someone else's expectation, or what we think to be their expectation.
— What we are doing has become habit, we are ‘comfortable' in our actions (or lack of action) despite the discomfort they are causing. Our need for routine and ‘the devil we know' seems preferable to making change.
In Bermuda we all have our clear-cut roads to Hamilton (generally one of three). I personally spend the majority of my travel time going up and down virtually the same route everyday. It's ‘the way I go', what I know ... my habit. We could almost feel like our paths are defined for us.
But, there are many routes to a destination.
Whatever our goals in life, often they are not a straight and direct line ahead of us. We can meet resistance, and obstacles arise that we must navigate. Just like in sailing, we need to practise the personal flexibility of ‘changing tack' when necessary, adjusting our course to accommodate the conditions, while always keeping our destination in sight.
What's key is knowing what the destination is and being clear about what it is we want. In any situation it is helpful to know: What am I really trying to achieve here?
What are my desired outcomes?
How does this fit into my vision for my life?
Revisiting our list of goals we can ask ourselves:
What is important about what I am striving for?
Is it how I do it, the end result, or even what it gives me, that is significant to me?
Who do I want to be as I do this?
If I am, what has me so caught-up in doing it this particular way?
How else could my desired outcome be reached?
Who am I doing this for?
For example if the desired end result is simply to get to Hamilton, does it matter if it's via north shore, cross-country or even by helicopter?
Practical ways to help unstick ourselves:
— Make a choice to ‘let go' — this may mean letting go of the situation, job, relationship or even idea that we might be clinging to, even though it is not working for us and is therefore keeping us stymied. Alternatively we can choose to let go of our expectations that the situation, job, relationship (or whatever) is failing to meet.
? — Stretch our comfort zone — stuck can come with habit and routine, so shaking these up every now and then tests whether they are actually still serving us. If not, we can adjust. Practising flexibility and expanding our potential keeps us psychically agile and less likely to seize.
? — Check in with what we believe — asking questions like: how do I know this is true? Who says? What is the evidence that this is the only one way to do this? Has anyone else done it differently and succeeded? What could I try? What would I be willing to try?
— Don't allow ‘victim speak' — we empower what we talk about and complain about. If we find ourselves sounding like a broken record and repeating similar negative talk, this can be a good indication of a possible ‘sticking point'. Recognise the pattern and decide to take action to make a change rather than continue complaining and feeling disheartened by it.
— Keep moving — if one road is blocked, do we just stop and wait, or try another? As Tony Robbins says: “If we always do what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten.”
Taking a step, even if it ends up being in the wrong direction, will at least tell us where not to go and might inspire a much better solution. And who knows, what we learn by taking ‘the scenic route' might make all the difference to us in the end.
Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner with Benedict Associates Ltd. Telephone (441) 295-2070 or visit www.juliapittcoaching.com for further information.