8 Questions to Ask When You Feel Stuck

Posted on Jan 16, 2020

get unstuck

I talk to a lot of people who feel stuck, unable to make a career change. Something about their work isn’t satisfying?it may even be life-draining?yet they just can’t seem to move forward.

“I want to do these things for myself, but I keep focusing on other people’s needs.”

“What keeps me from leaving my job? If I’m honest… fear.”

“I have these big ideas, but I’m surrounded by people who me tell me I can’t do them.”

“I’m so distracted. I wish I had the time to step back and plan what’s next.”

Pick a number between 1 and 8.

You want to know why, amirite? Just trust me. What’s the worst that can happen?

Got it? Good. You’ll need that number in a moment.

Get unstuck with questions

Questions are powerful. They invite curiosity, exploration, growth.

Seems obvious, right? And yet, how often do you “explain” a challenge without ever formulating it into a single, clear question?

Your coworkers can’t help you if they don’t understand what exactly you’re asking them for, and neither can You.

In The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, he tells of an interesting scientific study. Psychologists convinced three-year-olds to do something naughty (peek at a toy), then asked them if they?d peeked. About half of the kids who peeked denied doing it. Most of these “Not me!” kids, however, could immediately and accurately answer, ?What?s the toy?? ?

The author’s conclusion? “There?s usually something else there waiting to be unearthed by the simple act of asking.”

Ask, then actively listen

Earlier I asked you to pick a number between 1 and 8. In a moment, I want you to read the associated question in the list below. Then journal for a few minutes. Write down any and everything that comes to mind?no edits.

Seriously, no edits! Think of this as Active Listening, but towards yourself.

Why no edits? It can be hard to hear You when a fearful, analytical, problem-solving brain is getting in the way, busily gathering more evidence for it’s stories. Stories like: “We’re stuck! We don’t know what to do! We better just stay where we are, where it’s safe!”

Ask these when you feel stuck

OK, it’s go time. Here are 8 questions to ask yourself whenever you’re feeling stuck. Pick one and listen to what You already know.

  1. Am I willing to move forward? Why or why not?
  2. How would Future Me handle this situation? 
  3. If I did know, what would the answer be?
  4. What do I need? How could I give myself 1% more of this?
  5. What is it about this situation that I?m afraid to see?
  6. What is it about this situation that?s important to me?
  7. What?s the worst that can happen?
  8. Where have I seen this challenge elsewhere in my life?

Then what?

Maybe the act of journaling loosened something up for you, and you know your next step. You might re-read what you wrote right away. Or maybe you want to step away for an hour (or a day) and come back to re-read your ramblings.

The key, I’ve found, is to feel what stands out. By that I mean: notice what words trigger a sensation in your body. A fearful racing heart. An excited flutter. A sudden numbness. These are the words You want You to hear.

What are these sensations trying to tell you?

If, after this, you’re still feeling stuck, not to worry.

First of all: You’re not doing anything wrong. You don’t have to hurry up and figure it out. And wherever you are is exactly where you’re meant to be.

Second: Feel free to shoot me an email and let me know what’s going on. What you want is absolutely possible. I’d love to help.