Do you find yourself feeling that you are not where you want to be in life and wish you knew how to get to a better place?
Have you recently lost your job during this pandemic? Do you find yourself in a situation that is making you feel stuck?
If the answer is yes then take heart, do not lose courage. This moment too will pass. Losing a job or finding yourself in a slump can be discouraging and make it hard to keep perspective. It becomes easy to feel paralysed, not knowing how to move forward.
When you feel this way, what you need is a set of decision-making tools to make the path forward clear. I have a toolbox that I use whenever I am faced with a challenge or have a tough decision to make. It is a way to “unstuck myself” if you could call it that. I used it when I spent a whole year looking for a job. I used it to stay hopeful and keep perspective when that job was not coming along as fast as I wanted, no, needed it to.
It was so discouraging to be so qualified but not get hired. I had my doctorate in hand, had just moved to a new country, had to learn a new language and had to create a new life, make friends of strangers, all of it. I was doing my best learning the language, and had learnt it quite fast, according to everyone around me. But it still was not fast enough to get me hired. I could read the language and understand some things when talking to people but I was not as fluent as most employers wanted. Even jobs that advertised in English, meaning they wanted to receive English-speaking applicants still wanted me to be fluent in Norwegian. I found this unreasonable because the jobs they were hiring for clearly did not require Norwegian. The hiring managers and teams simply did not want to get out of their comfort level, or do the extra work of having to communicate in English.
So, I continued working on my Norwegian language skills and used my “unstuck yourself” toolkit to keep moving forward. I eventually succeeded.
This is how you can do it too.
1. Write down your desired goal.
Take pen to paper and write down your goal. What do you want to achieve? What does it look like when everything you want has fallen into place? Is it a new job you want? Do you want to start a business? Get a promotion? Any goal you want to achieve but have been feeling too stuck to achieve, write it down. There is something about writing things down that creates a connection in your mind with what is written. It becomes a commitment to yourself that you can read, reflect on and measure. So, write it down.
2. Reverse engineer the path to your goal.
Starting with the end, write down every step and piece that needs to be in place to achieve your outcome. It will look something like this:
Complete iron man < Train for six months < Train 3 times a week < Leave work early to be able to train (and so on …)
Break the process of achieving your goal into simple steps. It is not enough to write down your goals. You need to draw a path to those goals and visualise it. This is perhaps the most important part of the process of unstucking yourself. You need to visualise the journey, to have a map. Once I laid down concretely what exactly I wanted, and then drew the map of how to get there, it was just a matter of time before I started achieving my goals. I am on that journey now, achieving one goal at a time.
3. Draw a timeline
Think and consider how much time each step you have written above is going to take, and write it down. Be realistic and optimistic but not unreasonable. For me, the biggest limiting factor to getting hired was speaking the language. I was honest with myself that given my current language level, this was not going to be remedied in 2 months. Maybe 4 or 6. I was honest with myself that I needed to either find a job that did not require Norwegian, or wait until I could communicate better in the language. Be honest with yourself, without being pessimistic.
4. Be intentional about overcoming friction
You have mapped your journey and drawn your timeline. Now it is time to write down what the points of friction are. What are those bottlenecks along your path that might make it hard for you to achieve your goals? Write them down. Is it that your network is too small or you do not know the right people? Or that you lack the money you need? Do you not know how to present yourself at an interview, or are you afraid of public speaking? Write down whatever it is might stand in your way. Writing these things down is your way of confronting them. It is a way of saying, “I see you, I acknowledge you, anticipate you even, but I will not be discouraged by you.”
Make a plan on how you are going to overcome this friction along the way. Expect it and prepare for it, while remaining optimistic
5. Start, now that the way forward is clear to you.
Will yourself to start. Mapping your journey is also a way for you to overcome analysis paralysis. Send that email, do whatever it is, just start.
6. Keep a written progress log.
Mark your progress as you go along. This will help you stay the course of the journey to your goal, and serve as a reminder every time you feel discouraged or feel stuck.
Good luck on your journey, you got this!