Feeling Stuck? Here’s How to Move Forward.

Feeling Stuck

We all get to a point every now and then where we just feel stuck. Sometimes we have something specific that we’re trying to achieve, but nothing seems to be working and we don’t know what to do next. Other times we have trouble even figuring out what it is we want, let alone how to get there.

This happens with our financial situation. It happens with our jobs. It happens with our families, our kids and our friends. It happens with everything.

Feeling stuck can be incredibly discouraging. It can make us feel like we’re not good enough or like our goals are unreachable. We might feel lost, confused, and maybe even helpless. It’s not a fun place to be.

But there’s good news: you don’t have to be stuck forever. In fact, there’s a pretty simple way to get yourself out of it.

If you’re feeling stuck and don’t know what to do next, here are three steps you can take that will get you moving forward with purpose and energy.

Step 1: Talk to someone

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to keep things bottled up inside for way too long. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I would guess that it’s a combination of feeling like I should be able to figure it out, feeling a little embarrassed about needing help, and just being too absorbed in the problem to even recognize that there are other people in the world I could talk to.

Whatever it is, it’s not helpful.

The quickest way to get unstuck is to talk to someone else about your problem. Even if the other person never says a word, the simple act of having to think through your problem enough to explain it to someone else gets you out of your own head and is often enough to relieve your anxiety, spark new ideas, and provide a surge of new energy.

So, who should you talk to? Ideally it’s someone you trust, someone who will listen (really listen, not just wait for their turn to talk), and someone who will be honest with you, even if the truth is difficult.

It’s not always easy to find someone like that, but here are some places you can look:

  • Family and friends – This is often the first place that people look, and for good reason. Your family and friends usually know you better than anyone else, which can make them a great source of support.
  • The internet – There are some great online communities filled with smart people who are not only willing to help but are going through similar experiences. One of my favorite personal finance communities for parents is the Family Finances forum over at Babycenter. But there are communities like this for almost anything.
  • Colleagues – By far the most helpful thing I’ve done for my business is connect with a few other people building similar businesses (like Kate, Mike and Catherine). We talk on a regular basis and those conversations have done more to get me unstuck and moving forward than anything else. If you’re struggling with something job-related, talking to colleagues who know the specifics of what you’re going through can be a huge help.
  • A professional – A good professional who deals with your type of problem every day will have access to knowledge and tools that you don’t. He can help you find the right path forward for your specific situation quicker than you might be able to on your own. Plus, you get the secure feeling of knowing that you have someone who really knows what they’re doing on your side.

Here is some more advice on how and why to ask for help: 4 Good Reasons to Ask for Help.

Step 2: Write down 3 next steps

Immediately after talking to whoever it is you choose to talk to, write down three next steps you can take that will get you moving forward.

You don’t need a complete plan that will solve all your problems. In fact, I think that trying to create an entire plan can be counterproductive because it gets you too far into the weeds and can actually lead to more frustration and inaction.

But at the same time, coming up with three steps instead of just one or two will help you build positive momentum. Instead of finishing the first step and immediate feeling stuck again, you will already know exactly what to do next.

So go ahead and write down those three steps. Don’t worry about whether they’re perfect. As long as they’re moving you in the right direction, they’re good enough.

Step 3: Put your head down and do the work

Once you have those three next steps written down, take them.

No second-guessing. No wondering whether you might be better off taking different steps. You already did the planning. Now you have to take action.

There are two big benefits to simply putting your head down and doing the work:

  1. You make progress. No matter how much planning you do, action is the only way to make real progress.
  2. Action creates energy and stimulates new ideas. Simply getting your hands dirty is one of the best problem-solving techniques out there.

As you work, you will run into new obstacles and come up with new next steps to take. That’s good. Write those things down as you think of them.

But before you veer off in a new direction, complete those first three steps. Too often we make the mistake of getting caught up in those new ideas, running down a new path, feeling productive, but never actually finishing anything.

If you really want to make your situation better, you’re going to have to commit to finishing what you start. This is the time to get things done. Once those three steps are finished, you can get back to planning and start the whole cycle over again.

No more feeling stuck

Honestly, repeating this exact process over and over again has probably been the single biggest factor in helping me reach goals over the past year. I talk to someone, I write down my next steps, I take them, and then I do it all again.

I still feel stuck every now and again. That’s never going to stop happening. But as long as I focus on this process, it’s not that big a deal.

If you’re feeling stuck, I can almost guarantee that this will help you find your purpose and move forward. You can get back to making progress, which is all it takes to make things better.

P.S. If your feeling stuck with your financial situation, I would like to invite you to schedule a free, no obligation phone call so that we can talk things over and you can tell me what you’re struggling with. If that sounds like it might be helpful, click here to pick a time that works for you.

I’m looking forward to it!

Start building a better financial future with the resource I wish I had when I was starting my family. It’s free!

4 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Natalie @ Financegirl October 27, 2014

    All three of these steps are incredibly important. Without talking to someone, we’re often stuck in our own minds, making it worse than it is in reality. And in terms of pushing ahead, having clear, concrete goals (or a plan) and doing the work (no matter how you feel) are tools I’ve learned from T. Harv Ecker in “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, Steven Pressfield in “The War of Art” and John Maxwell in “15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”.

    • Matt Becker October 27, 2014

      Yep, “The War of Art” was pretty influential for me as well. I’ll have to check out the other ones you’ve recommended. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods October 28, 2014

    It never ceases to amaze me how much better I feel about any given problem after talking it through with Mr. FW. I’ll be in a knot all day puzzling over something and then I get home from work, we take a walk with our dog, discuss the problem and it usually either evaporates or I emerge with concrete action items.

    • Matt Becker October 28, 2014

      It’s pretty incredibly how powerful the simple act of talking through a problem is, isn’t it? I think a big part of it is simply that explaining it to someone else requires you to think it through more clearly than when it’s just you in your head. That alone is a huge benefit.

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