Stuck or not stuck… that is the question.

From the very beginning of my PR firm, Wasabi Publicity, I’ve been no stranger to being stuck. As I look back on those different “stuck” experiences, it seems pretty obvious why and how they all happened. But at the time, none of that ever occurred to me. I knew everyone naturally experiences obstacles during their lifetime. But I later realized that being stuck is a state people accidentally drive themselves into.

It’s like being stuck in quicksand; the more you try to get unstuck the more stuck you become. Why not just stop when you know you’re not making any progress? Everything you do drives you deeper into the quicksand. Is it your mindset or your emotions getting the better of you? When we’re stuck we often take the wrong approach, using the wrong equipment. All of those things play a role in the larger state of being stuck.

Here’s the secret: Getting unstuck is all about awareness and being totally present in the moment. That’s it. Nothing more. And if you and I could do those two things really well, even 10% of the time, we wouldn’t need to read on! But most of us aren’t fully present and aware even 1% of the time, and most of us relate more to the stuck symptoms than what it feels like to be unstuck.

We get so wrapped up in this alternate reality of being stuck that we don’t even notice what is around us. If we’re lucky, every once in awhile, we wake up for a moment and notice. Paying attention to the clues provides the insight, awareness and access to being unstuck.

Clues You Are Stuck

“But, hey! I already know when I’m stuck.” Really? Have you noticed how easy it is to spot someone else banging their head up against a wall or spinning their wheels in the sand? What’s easy to detect in others is not so easy to pinpoint in ourselves. You know what I’m talking about. It’s a part of our human nature. We’re wired to think we’re running pretty smoothly. But that other guy…

You can’t get unstuck if you don’t recognize you’re stuck in the first place. For me, the signs that are most important are thoughts, feelings, energy, and the results around me. If you’re stuck, your job is to look for the signs. I like to think of them as the road signs of life. If you pay attention to these signs, they’ll guide you along the right path and tell you when you’re off that path.

Any of these physical symptoms can be signals from the subconscious that you’re stuck and something needs to give:

You feel uninspired. You wake up in the morning and just don’t feel jazzed about the day ahead. When someone asks you what’s going on with your business, you reply, “Oh, you know. Same old same old.” You don’t feel bad – but you don’t feel as good as you once felt working your business. We have this preconception that stuck means you don’t have results, but stuck is an energetic state of being. You can be successful in what you do and still be stuck.

You’re busy, you’re getting some results, but the scenery doesn’t change. You think you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing, but you’re bored and asking yourself, “Is there more to it than this?”

It’s happening, but it doesn’t feel good. It’s all coming together. You’re reaching the goals you’ve set and you’re seeing results. Your vision seems to be manifesting, maybe exactly as you hoped it would. But somehow, it just doesn’t feel good. You feel antsy, frustrated, maybe anxious, generally pissy – but you can’t explain it. Everything is going so right, so why does it feel so wrong? That vague sense of disconnect and discomfort is oftentimes the harbinger of more deep, internalized unhappiness.

Your mind keeps spinning. Have you become indecisive, constantly second guessing yourself? Paralysis by analysis? Entrepreneurs are smart rats. I know because I’m one of you! If you couple that with OCD, it’s truly a winning formula for being stuck. You know that old saying, “we teach what we need to learn?” Hello!

You feel nervous, angry, depressed, sad, anxious – any number of emotions that don’t have an obvious source. In contemporary life, I think there’s a lot of low-grade depression (often masked as apathy) along with the ubiquitous stress we’ve become so familiar with. If you can’t connect these feelings to a particular situation, odds are your subconscious is trying to signal you.

It’s not happening fast enough. I’m not talking about impatience here – when you want something to happen right now, this very minute. Despite our microwave, fast food, overnight success culture, things take time and I believe everything happens for a reason and exactly when it’s supposed to happen. But even knowing that, you might have the instinct or intuition that things are not moving as quickly as they’re divinely ordered to be moving. You know that famous saying, “it takes 10 years to be an overnight sensation?” We often forget about the 10-year part.

How it’s always worked isn’t working. One reason we entrepreneurs get stuck is because we’re really smart rats and we’ve figured out how to get the cheese! But when someone (or the economy or technology or current market trends) moves that cheese, your old strategies may no longer work. For instance, are you putting in the work, doing what you’ve always done, but not getting the results you’ve always gotten?

Your relationships are off kilter. Sometimes being stuck shows up in how people are reacting and interacting with you. If co-workers, family, or friends seem upset or irritated by you (or you feel uncharacteristically upset or irritated by them), you might be stuck without knowing it. Maybe suddenly, you find yourself surrounded by personal drama and misunderstanding. Conversations that used to be easy are difficult. Collaborations that used to be smooth are bumpy. Your external environment and relationships are always a reflection of your own state. So if your external environment and relationships are suddenly not working as they used to, it’s time to uncover if the problem is you and if you are in some form of stuckness.

You think you are NOT the reason your business is not successful. The ultimate sign of being stuck is pointing your finger anywhere but at yourself. I know, sorry about that. But one of the reasons we’re entrepreneurs is because we love to play our own game, right?

What Does Unstuck Feel Like?

When you finally find yourself unstuck, you know you’re living your life to the fullest.

You feel like you’re moving within the flow of life; like there is wind beneath your wings.

Instead of worry or anxiety, you feel a sense of power – power to take those actions you know you need to take in each moment, or to get the resources you need, or to get yourself sorted out so you’re in the right mindset to fulfill on what you want to fulfill on.

You know you’re unstuck when obstacles seem more like challenges or opportunities. They are just new currents of air that take your game to the next level. They don’t throw you off your game. You don’t let your history define your destiny and you don’t let fears of an unknown future stop your forward motion.

Unstuck is firing on all cylinders in your career, your relationships, and your spiritual/emotional/physical health. When you’re in the flow of life and doing work you love with real purpose, all of those emotions – the excitement, inspiration, and gratitude – will be present a vast majority of the time. They are the surest indicators that you’re unstuck. It’s good. Very good.