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There are times in everyone’s life where we need someone to coach us through small (and sometimes big!) moments. Here’s an example. I’ve struggled for most of my adult life with consistently flossing my teeth. I was a sometimes-flosser, not a daily-flosser. *Gasp!* I know. I was familiar with the lecture from the dental folks that I only had to see twice a year on how it’s important and healthy and blah-blah-blah. I knew the right thing to do. I was lacking in the action department.

When you see dental floss commercials, they always show someone flossing as they get ready for bed. Same on TV sitcoms. I naturally assumed that the only time of day to floss was right before bedtime, since that’s what I’d seen. Here’s the issue. I’m a morning person. I do my best work and have my highest energy in the morning. At night I’m tired (and sometimes grumpy!) and have no interest in expending effort on… well, anything… but especially flossing!

Enter the dental hygienist who successfully coached me through the issue. I shared with her that I was a morning person and was too tired at night to floss every night (a lame, but very true excuse). Instead of telling me I should try harder or that it’s important and healthy, she gave me an easy positive action to take. Floss at the time of day that works best for me. 

Wait. What? Do it when it’s convenient for me? Like pretty much everyone else in the world, I LOVE things that are convenient for me! How has this idea never been mentioned before?!?!

Pretty simple (and obvious) right? But it had never occurred to me because I believed flossing was part of a bedtime routine. That simple insight to get me unstuck completely changed when and how often I floss.

Unless you’re in the tooth cleaning industry, this probably sounds insignificant. It’s just a little more minty freshness in the world. No big deal. But it was the exact insight I needed to finally take positive action to do something different to get a different result.

The same is true for a coach in any other aspect of your life. They will ask the hard questions and point out the sometimes obvious insights to help you get unstuck. It’s one of my favorite parts of working with clients when I can help them move past an issue that’s been holding them back. Remember, coaches come in all different forms, sometimes with an official title, but more often in the form of a friend or co-worker or dental hygienist willing to point out an alternative course of action for you to try.

#PositiveAction What’s that small thing you’ve avoided changing, even though you probably know what to do? Find a way to reframe by asking a friend for ideas to get unstuck.  

 

 Image by 2396521 from Pixabay

Are you feeling bored at work? Stuck doing the same tasks over and over without feeling like you’re making progress? Mindlessly following the same dull routines? It’s time to try something new. 

I’m not saying you need to start looking for a new job – there’s a lot of factors that go into that decision – but you absolutely need to get out of the rut you’re in. And here’s the great news if you’re not enjoying your job: the something new should be something completely unrelated to your day job.

In fact, the more unrelated it is to something you already know, the better!

That’s because our brains are infinitely complex. Science has only started to scratch the surface on understanding that complexity, but here’s the rationale: the new thing you try wakes your brain up by creating new neural pathways. So learning something new literally creates new connections in your brain, activating it in a way it hasn’t been before. Regardless of age, humans have the capacity to grow more pathways. How fantastic is that? New and improved go hand in hand!

In my own life, I work to keep learning a priority. This year, I made a commitment to try one new thing a month. It doesn’t take a ton of time, but it does take a little planning to make sure that a month doesn’t go by without scheduling something! I know that everyone is already overscheduled and overworked, which is why it’s especially important to have something on the calendar you actually WANT to do vs. all those have-to-do items.

Try to pick something that sounds interesting to you, or is on your bucket list of things to try “someday”. I don’t typically have a plan before the month starts on what type of activity I’m going to try. It depends on what’s being offered, what my schedule looks like, and how much time I can carve out. Sometimes, it’s an excursion to a museum sans my interrupting cows… aka alone. Sometimes it’s a free or low cost class. 

This month I tried a painting class at a library where the supplies were provided so all I had to do was show up. One month I watched a documentary and participated in a group discussion afterwards. Another month I went on a naturalist-led hike. There are endless possibilities to choose from, but know that you can’t choose incorrectly. Anything new will work. You don’t have to fall in love with a new hobby in order to reap the benefits from creating new neural pathways in your brain.

Here’s what I love about trying something new. When my brain wakes up, all of me wakes up. I end up living life more fully and authentically because I’m not on autopilot. It also helps jumpstart my creativity. Taking a break to try the unrelated new things often leads to breakthrough ideas of how to solve some of my tough work problems. Most importantly, trying something new is fun (once you get past the fear getting outside your comfort zone). I’ve met cool people, learned fascinating things, and said yes to a wide variety of activities as a result. And if we’re being honest, most of us need a little more fun in our lives!

If you’re looking for a way to make your current job more interesting and exciting, trying something new is a great way to get unstuck. Pick one thing and get started!

 

My “office” (pictured above) is also where we eat meals, play board games, do homework, create artwork, and so many other activities. As a matter of fact, a realtor would probably call this room the dining room or eat-in kitchen. Our house doesn’t actually have a dedicated office space.

Here’s a list (and photo evidence below!) of some of what I had to remove from my office in order to take the first picture: swimsuits and towels dried, but not yet put away from swim lessons; an incomplete to-do list; a quantity of crumbs unparalleled by Cookie Monster; Trolls movie soundtrack CD borrowed from the library (I like my kids to experience older technologies to better appreciate new ones!); and a water bottle with food still caked on the side. I could continue the list, but you get the idea. Plus, it only occurred to me to take a picture after I was about halfway through cleaning it up!

I know what you’re thinking: I should stop trying to do work in such a crazy place! But here’s the thing, although it’s imperfect, it works for now. Would it have been more ideal to start my business when I have a dedicated office space (preferably with several layers of sound proofing and a mini fridge… which, when installed my family will likely never see me again, BTW!)? Sure, but then I probably never would have started, because there would always be something else imperfect holding me back.

The same is often true for people in their careers. We wait for the perfect job description, the perfect timing, or the perfect company. And because none of those things actually exist in the funny little place we call reality, we never take action. 

In order to break out of the perfectionist mindset, here’s a few ideas:

  • If you think a job posting sounds interesting… apply! 
  • Just because the timing is inconvenient in taking on a new opportunity is no reason not to go for it anyway! 
  • Stuck at a company you hate because you figure they’re all the same? You may be surprised to discover that there are lots of great places to work that probably are a better fit for you than your current employer.

So, do I give up the dream of an office of my own someday? Definitely not! But I also don’t let it hold me back from doing what I need to do to be successful today. And you shouldn’t either.

P.S. If you’re feeling especially stuck, you may enjoy reading this.

Stuck 

Adjective

unable to move, or set in a particular position, place, or way of thinking


Do any of these definitions of stuck describe you?

  • be fixed in a particular position or unable to move or be moved
  • be unable to progress with a task or find the answer or solution to something
  • remain in a static condition; fail to progress
  • be or remain in a specified place or situation, typically one perceived as tedious or unpleasant

There are times in our careers when all of us have felt stuck. It could be that there was no further room for advancement in a role. Or maybe you had a ton of personal stuff happening in your life that didn’t leave a lot of mental energy for giving 110% at work. Or maybe it was a mismatch of skills and expectations that made it difficult to be successful in that role. 

Being stuck doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are seasons in life when you need your job to be more on auto-pilot. I’ve talked to lots of people who need exactly this in situations like when providing care to small children or aging parents or when the storms of life are rocking the boat (death / divorce / drama). If that’s the season of life you find yourself in, know that you’re not alone. Make sure you have a solid support system in place to help you get through it.

Meanwhile, if you’re in a role right now where you feel like you’re “phoning it in” vs. giving it your best effort, do you feel stuck? How long have you been feeling that way? There’s no shame in getting stuck. The key question you need to ask yourself is, “What am I willing to do to get unstuck?”

If you’re ready to start living your best life and doing your best work, I’m here to help!