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Feeling Stuck

May 8, 2010

A number of my favorite blogs talked about feeling stuck this week. Kelly Diels has survived, persevered, succeeded. Bur right now? In this moment, she feels stuck. Jess, of Jess LC, has made huge steps to ratchet up her business and now that she’s starting to see the fruits of that labor is having a hard time following through with those last final steps.

And me? Well, April has been one hell of a month. Friends in town when I was desperately homesick. Moving homes and offices. An amoebic infection and three night stay in the hospital. But once my friends left town, the office was set up and my antibiotics were completed, I was stuck. I had a million things to do and no desire to do them.

What does that mean? And, how do you respond to feeling stuck? How do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and just get over it? And, should you?

Stuck As A Warning Sign

Back in my theater directing days, I would always tell my actors to listen to their tension. Instead of fidgeting, making unnecessary movement, or otherwise trying to dissipate it, really listen to the tension. What is it trying to tell you?

Usually tension is a sign that you’re not following your instincts. That is, you’re not acting authentically. In some cases, stuck is the same as tension. Stuck is a warning sign. A danger sign. A big, wait a minute, what are you trying to do? And, why? Because maybe, you don’t really want to do that.

Like in the case of Kelly, who took a moment and realized she didn’t really want what she was going after. So much of what we are trying to do –as people, as entrepreneurs, as dream builders in developed and developing countries- requires so much energy and will, that the things you don’t really want aren’t worth doing. The things that drain you but offer no benefit? Breathe a giant sigh of relief and remove them from your horizons.

Stuck As A Result Of Feeling Overwhelmed

On the other hand, Jess really wants what she’s going after. She wants to expand her business and found some specialty stores who love her designs and want her jewelry. Fantastic, right? Well along with the increased business comes increased rules and regulations. Bigger businesses (which I know from my own experience) are very particular. They want items shipped in very specific ways with very specific paperwork. Those retailers have their reasons – keeping warehouses organized, streamlining the receiving process, etc.

But that doesn’t mean it’s any less new or overwhelming for Jess, or other small business owners. I may not own Push Pull Cambodia, but as the person who’s on the ground coordinating these types of concerns, I get exactly why Jess feels at a loss.

This kind of stuck is about feeling overwhelmed. It’s about now knowing something. It’s the fear of having to learn something new and potentially making mistakes.

This, I also understand. It’s the reason I sat on new expense reports and the new accounting worksheets that I have to complete and send to the CEO. It’s part of my new responsibilities of the new company we’ve formed. Let’s be honest, my personal finances were a hot mess for a very long time. I’m not inherently financial savvy but I’m learning. I’m incredibly afraid. I don’t want to eff up. I didn’t completely understand the new forms or how to fill them out.

I was overwhelmed and afraid. I worried and fretted and spent a lot of emotional and mental energy worrying about these reports. But beyond thinking, do I do anything? No, I let myself be stuck.

Jess and I both learned that doesn’t really work. Embracing stuck is no tool for success. So, what do you do? Face the fear. Embrace the fear and just sit with the guidelines (in Jess’ case) or expense reports (in mine) and try to work through them. Look at the samples and accompanying materials. Make an effort. Start somewhere. You can always go back and fine-tune and finesse before you mail the package out or e-mail the expenses to the CEO. But if you don’t start? Well, you’ll never finish. And that’s a lot of time and energy to waste on an avoidable circumstance.

Stuck is a feeling I know intimately, something I understand. A feeling I let linger too long too often. But stuck is also an incredible teacher and tool. The next time you’re feeling stuck? Sit with it. Figure out what stuck is really trying to tell you. Then let me know how it all worked out!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2010 6:50 pm

    I believe that feeling stuck, and being restless, is a great motivator.

    • May 8, 2010 7:03 pm

      right! There’s almost always something happening behind the scenes. It usually signals a time to make a move, any move, and get off the old arse to do something!

  2. May 8, 2010 7:25 pm

    I think some people are naturally restless too and being stuck is torture to them.

  3. Emily permalink
    May 9, 2010 2:35 am

    I love that you say “listen to your tension” and I’m totally right with you. I hear a similar phrase in my yoga class, the instructor is always directing us to “notice” the tension, but not evaluate or judge, I think it goes more to what you’re saying that its a wake up call to us. I have no doubts that you will meet all the challenges of having a start up just like you have managed the challenges of living and working across the world in a different culture. Thanks for the updates!

    • May 9, 2010 3:45 pm

      I love the part about not evaluating or judging it… that’s pure gold!!


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