What to Do When You Are Stuck
We have a number of members of the Career Pivot online community who are just flat stuck. They are paralyzed by indecision because they either have too many choices or are not knowledgeable enough to make a decision.
They choose to stay stuck. Yes, doing nothing is a choice.
Why do we choose to do nothing? It is an easy decision.
What prevents us from getting unstuck? It is usually either inertia or fear.
Inertia is powerful and often is difficult to overcome.
Fear is something that we can overcome by just trying stuff and seeing if our fear is rational.
What Are My Choices?
When you are stuck, there are 2 logical choices:
- Get more educated, but put a deadline on making a decision
- Just make a decision
When making a change, there is often no right answer. There will be many shades of grey, and when we are looking for the right answer, it will never appear. What we need to do, is a risk versus reward analysis, and then make a decision.
I do not know about you but I was raised to be risk-averse. I was always told to make the safe decision but the problem today is playing it safe is the new risky.
When Stuck You Just Need to Start Poking
Years ago, I taught a problem determination class to technical support employees.
I would teach the concept of just start poking when you are stuck. It is kind of like the doctor, who pokes their patient while saying:
Does this hurt? No. Then does this hurt? No….
The doctor will keep poking until he/she discovers something.
By continuing to poke, you will discover something new that makes the decision a little less risky.
A good example of this is finding people who look, taste, smell like you AND had made the same kind of change. What did they do? Did they take a direction that you did not expect? How did it turn out?
Several years ago, I was approached by a gentleman who had lived in Africa for 10 or more years. He was translating bibles into obscure languages, and the theological significance of the work was very important to him. After a family member became ill, he returned to the U.S. and did not know what to do. He was stuck.
This gentleman has a Ph.D. in Linguistics. I told him to search LinkedIn for people who had Ph.D.s in Linguistics, who graduated 5 years before and after his graduation. He could then search their profiles for keywords like theology, religion, or any other word that represented what was important to him.
He should then reach out to these people to find out what decision they made and why. It is a very surgical way of poking. He was probably looking for a needle in a haystack but still, he needed to just start poking.
I have had, at various times in my career, became stuck. In the late 1990’s, I was working in an IBM product briefing center. I was bored, and the IBM business unit where I worked, was in trouble. The product line was stagnant (I should know as I was doing confidential product briefings for IBM’s top customers). I narrowed the choices down to going to work for a former manager as an IBM consultant, or moving to a sales support role in the Lotus division of IBM.
Boy, was I stuck. I spent a lot of time with my psychologist working through my decision and finally made a somewhat random choice to become a consultant. This turned out to be one of my biggest career failures. It was a miserable experience, but I learned a lot and recovered.
As it turns out, if I had taken the position in Lotus, I would have been laid off as the entire department was eliminated a year or two later.
Neither choice would have turned out well. I could have stayed at the briefing center but would have made myself miserable.
Sometimes, you just need to choose.
Sometimes it is very helpful to employ chaos theory. Just try stuff, whether it makes logical sense or not. You may discover you like doing something that you would not have believed.
I have had several closet creative clients who I have had them randomly try creative endeavors. This might include taking a jewelry making class, an improv class, or going to iFly Indoor Skydiving. By trying something that you have never done before, could get you unstuck.
Being stuck is a very unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, it is often perceived as the only logical choice, because making the decision to change is scary.
You just need to make a decision and do something!
Are you stuck? What are you willing to do to get unstuck?